Sunday, September 27, 2015

Who Pays The Toll?

Paid toll solutions are popping up on the freeways and bridges all around the greater Seattle area these days.  This weekend I-405, the thoroughfare that moves traffic along the east side of Lake Washington, was closed from Friday evening to midday today to re-stripe the roadway.  The new arrangement will have paid toll lanes in both directions.

Paid toll lanes on a public freeway seems a curious solution for a Progressive place like Seattle.  If you want access to the fastest path on the road, you must pay, a-la-carte.  The fees that you pay will vary based on an algorithm... potentially varying every 5 minutes.  Hard to budget that kind of a cost.

Isn't this discrimination, by the state, of those who happen to live at the lower end of the economic spectrum?  People with the spare cash to (a) pay the bill and (b) absorb whatever that fee might happen to be are able to get where they are going faster and with less stress than those without the same economic resources... but everyone paid for that road to be built in the first place.

Seems this would also set up a perverse incentive for the government, too.  Building less efficiency into the non-toll lanes would drive more usage of the toll lanes.  Increased congestion in the toll lanes would allow the algorithm to bump up the usage fees.

Would be curious to hear thoughts on how these tolls actually promote equality...

** Update **

One wonders how long before a city/state/federal program starts to subsidize the cost of GoodToGo passes for those with qualifying incomes...

No comments: