Thursday, May 29, 2008

Toll roads and ideas

Every day on my way to work I pass a sign that simply says, "No Tolls on 540" and has the website of the No Tolls on 540 organization. As a person who doesn't travel on the areas they are suggesting making a toll road with any frequency, I don't feel it necessary to choose a side immediately. However, as I consider "what if they make my section of 540 a toll road" and it changes my opinion. Overall, I am a fan of use taxes in that individuals can decide not to use the item if they do not want to pay the taxes instead of every penny coming out of taxpayers pockets. However, when the roads were built through my tax dollars I am a bit split. I understand the maintenance and creation of more roads costs more money and don't want that to also come out of my wallet and agree its reasonable to expect those who drive on that road consistently to be the ones to fork out the money for it. However, I don't want to simultaneously be paying taxes for someone else to be driving toll free from a different direction. I think my primary problem becomes how do you select where to start and how is this fair?

In general, I have only one problem with toll roads. Having grown up frequently using one of the oldest toll roads, the Pennsylvania Turnpike, I guess I was always alright with paying tolls. My single problem with them are that they don't follow logical supply and demand constructs. The toll roads should adjust their prices accordingly for how busy the roads are. Of course, doing this dynamically all the time would be difficult so its best to do statically such as have a weekday 6 AM-8 PM toll of $1.00, federal holiday toll of $0.50, and weekend/off-hour rates of $.0.25. Why shouldn't I be able to use the toll road for cheaper when there is no traffic on it? That would work best for my situation now too. Its easier to say okay to a toll that I use to go to and from work as its a necessary expense but it is more difficult to accept that same toll over nights and weekends when there is no traffic on the roads.

If I must pay tolls locally, I want this sort of adjustable rate that has me paying more for normal work trips and less for nights/weekend trips which are generally more for social reasons. Are there any toll roads like that?

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