Rethinking the Toll Increase in NJ

Once again the politicians are discussing raising revenue and once again they want to tax us on services that we have already grown to depend upon and have factored into our daily lives.

For once, couldn’t they give citizens a new or enhanced service that we might actually choose to pay for if given the chance?

I think there is when it comes to the proposed toll hikes that Governor Corzine is pushing for.

Instead of his idea, I propose that New Jersey allows drivers to drive at a higher rate of speed, in return for buying the privilege of driving faster.

With all of our wonderful technology, including the ability to issue tickets based upon EZ Pass data, why can’t we charge a variable toll rate based upon the actual rate of speed during the journey?

This enhanced service would only be available to EZ Pass Customers.

Do you think EZ Pass would like that?

Car safety can be ensured by giving additional safety checks during the inspection process. These additional inspections would be at the expense of the driver including out of staters that could voluntarily get the special inspection.

Do you think that Parsons and all of the small mom and pop inspection centers would like that?

Start small…say the car lanes on the Turnpike and the Express Lanes on the Garden State Parkway. If it works, roll it out to other stretches of road and maybe even build express lanes that would have an ample funding source for once.

How much could they charge for this privilege?

I think they could easily charge a summertime shore commuter $10 extra or whatever it costs to keep the road moving for those willing to pay the surcharge. Extra service vehicles, better roads, video monitoring, whatever. The additional costs could easily be absorbed by the additional revenue…and then some.

Why not vary the rates based upon time of year and projected congestion.  Influence driver behavior like the markets influence buying behavior.

We pay different prices for gasoline don’t we? And we make the decision to buy or not to buy on the spot do we not?

If they post the prices well in advance of reaching the toll a driver can decide if they want or need to go faster or not and if so, how much it’s worth to them.

On the flipside, using our wonderful technology, the State could charge extensive fines for cars that exceed their designated speed limits. No special safety inspection? Pay a fine for speeding.

Is this a perfect solution? Probably not…

Is it worth exploring before we simply tax everyone and they get nothing in return but a higher cost of living?

I hope so.

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