Tollway Bill of Rights

I just spent a lovely week in Orlando with my family doing the theme park thing. The kids (and I) loved it. However, I’m considering not returning and it’s for a number of reasons including the F-ing tollways. In this this day and age, you would think someone could come up with a better way to pay for roads (like the gas tax for instance). I drove 10. 3 miles (according to Google) and it took 45 minutes because of the damn tollway.

Am I angry. You bet. Why? Because traffic was moving along just fine until I hit the damn toll booths. And Orlando, in its infinite wisdom decided that one toll booth was not enough. So they added a second one within 3 miles of the first one. So here I am, 1000 feet from the airport, stuck in toll booth traffic, so the great state of Florida can collect another 75 cents from me. I drove exactly 4 miles of this tollway, spent half-an-hour doing it, and paid a $1.50 for the privilege. Something is wrong here.

Supporters likely will say that it taxes only the users who use it and normally I would agree accept that often you don’t get a choice. Take Chicago’s I-94 for instance. Once, maybe twice a year I travel this route on my way to Iowa. As far as I can tell, there is no viable alternative to the tollway. To avoid the tollway, I’m forced to drive 20 miles South to the next major roadway which of course I’m not willing to do. So I sit in endless lines waiting to pay my 65 cents for the privilege of driving about 3 miles of tollway that I can’t get around.

I suppose I could get one of those FastPass/I-Pass thingys but I live 300 miles away in South East Michigan. I assume there is some cost for setting up and maintaining one of these “passes” and then I probably only works with one car so I’m forced to switch it every time I get a different car (I lease).

And what about out of town visitors like myself? I didn’t even know there was a tollway on my route to the airport until I was practically on top of it. It’s highway robbery (literally)!

I think there should be a Tollway Bill-of-Rights for users. If you’re going to charge people to use your roadway then you should have a standard of care and reliability that meets or exceeds the current public interstate system.

Here are some changes I would like to see:

  • If a toll booth backs-up more than 10 cars, then the tollway operator must let all traffic through unimpeded for 2 minutes
  • Cars with out-of-state plates (or maybe outside a tri-state area like Chicago) should be allowed to pass unimpeded
  • Toll booths must be at least 10 miles apart
  • A national I-PASS type system should be instituted so I can travel effortlessly through out the nation
  • All rental cars should support an I-PASS system for their area
  • All signs routing traffic to a major destination (like an airport) should also have directions for alternative routes that do not require using the tollway
  • Gasoline on tollways cannot exceed the national average

If it were up to me, all tollways would be incorporated into our national highway system. They’re stupid, costly and just plain wrong. Of course I’m not running things so the best I can hope for is maybe a more convenient way to pay the damn tolls.

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