Monday, January 03, 2005

Some good stuff, then a rant.

So, I had a wonderful drive out to the farm this weekend. Turns out that when I left, around 9 on Saturday morning, probably 3/4 of the 8 million people in the Chicagoland area were probably at home, either hungover or having not slept enough. The roads were empty- and it took me only 1 hour 55 minutes to make the trip from my house to my grandparents'. That's not too bad, as it usually takes about 2 1/2 hours to get there- all thanks to traffic.

(In case you were wondering, here's where the big but comes in...)


I had forgotten about a certain rate change going into effect on 1 January, 2005. It now costs twice as much to drive on Illinois Tollways, unless, of course, you have purchased I-Pass. Of course, not owning a car, and usually renting or borrowing other people's cars, I have no I-Pass. This is not the issue. The issue, friends and readers is, that, they're touting this rate hike as a method to relieve congestion. Um, folks, the problem isn't that not enough people are using I-Pass. The problem is how tolls are collected in the first place.

We here in Illinois have toll plazas at various intervals throughout the tollway system. The issue is that in order to pay your toll, you have to bring your vehicle to a complete halt to pay said toll(with I-Pass, you are expected to slow to as low as 5 mph to pay). And although they make those toll plazas several lanes wide, you can see how it can cause trouble- much like a stoplight on a freeway would severely curtail any kind of traffic flow- it's a little asinine.

Ever drive on the Ohio Turnpike? When you enter the tollway, you're issued a card from the toll plaza. This card records when you enter the tollway, how many axels your vehicle has, etc, etc. You're free to drive after that, until, of course, you exit the tollway, at which point, you hand your card to a tollbooth operator, who then calculates your toll and collects your money. At no point during your trip do you have to stop- unless you choose to do so- to pay your toll. Rates, by the way, are conveniently located on the card, so if you know which exit you entered on(marked on said card) and which exit you're leaving the tollway, you can figure out what you need to pay before you get to the booth.

It seems so sensible. I don't understand why we've got this backwards system.


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