Give them no quarters

The Golden Gate Bridge is going to electronic toll collection, which, Bill Quick reminds us, will be a pain in the neck for tourists:

The GG Bridge is one of the great tourist attractions in the entire world. It connect two other monumental tourist attractions — Marin County / Wine Country and San Francisco.

Now, what is the primary characteristic of tourists? Easy — they aren’t from any of those places. And so they don’t know things like, for instance, that the pile of small bills and change on their front console, used for paying whatever tolls they happen to come across in their travels through distant, unknown climes, will be useless when they try to return to their hotel from a day trip up to Napa and Sonoma to slurp the vino.

Inevitably, since this is a California project, the question arises: “How do they do this in Texas?This way:

Drivers without an electronic toll tag are also welcome to use the express lanes on Austin area toll roads. When a driver does not stop to pay at a toll booth, cameras above the toll lanes will photograph the license plate, and the vehicle owner will receive a monthly bill for toll charges. We call it “Pay By Mail.”

The Pay By Mail toll rates are one-third more than TxTag rates to offset the costs related to processing the license plate information. Also, a $1.15 fee is applied to each monthly bill for non-tag customers.

Segments 1 through 4 of State Highway 130, now $5.40 for TxTag holders, will rise to $6.75 around the first of the year. An out-of-state tourist will therefore pay $9 per trip, plus that $1.15 for the monthly billing. I grant that TX 130 is not as scenic as the Golden Gate, but it beats the hell out of looking at Interstate 35 for two or three hours, and the speed limit is as much as 80. (The extension toward San Antonio, not yet open, will be posted at 85 mph.)


  1. Bill Quick »

    20 September 2012 · 10:00 pm

    Sweet racket. They get to nick the touristas for an extra one third, plus processing fees. I assume SF/GGB will get there soon enough.

    God forbid they should leave some human toll takers there to let the poor bastards do it the old fashioned way. Can’t steal enough using that method, I guess.

    The GGB situation is especially galling, since the tolls were only supposed to be collected until the original bridge debt was paid off. Of course, when they reached that point, they started up a bus company which loses money hand over fist (Golden Gate Transit), and so it was not only necessary to keep the tolls, but increase them.


  2. CGHill »

    20 September 2012 · 10:14 pm

    Here in Soonerland, all the toll receipts from our enormous number of toll roads are pooled, so the idea that some day one of them might be paid off — specifically, the Turner, which celebrates its 60th anniversary next year — can be routinely dismissed.

  3. McGehee »

    20 September 2012 · 10:16 pm

    God forbid they should leave some human toll takers there to let the poor bastards do it the old fashioned way. Can’t steal enough using that method, I guess.

    Oh, the problem is that the high-seniority members of the Greater Bay Area Local of the International Brotherhood of Toll-Takers, Extortionists and Knuckle-Crackers steals it all before Aunt Minerva can get her share.

  4. Scott »

    21 September 2012 · 7:24 pm

    TX130 has toll-takers, I’m pretty sure…they at least have the lanes where you can pull over. I use that route occasionally. It’s a very long loop around Austin, though…very, very long, even at 80, which is really more like 90. Lately, I takes my chances, and if traffic is bad, well, that’s a good time for a beer and a cheeseburger.

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