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The Cost of Toll Collectors

  Are tollbooth workers economically inefficient? State officials seem to think so. Next summer, Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT) toll collectors are slated to be out of work. So what is the cost of manual toll collection and what are the financial implications of going cashless? According to data from Massachusetts Open Checkbook, 763 full-time and seasonal toll collectors worked on Massachusetts’s roads in 2014.  In a 2013 investigative report, WBUR news estimated that 45 to 50 cents of each cash transaction on the Pike and Tobin Bridge went to pay toll workers’ salaries, costing the state $55 million that year. Open Checkbook records demonstrate that full time Toll Department II collectors made, on average, $88,369 in 2014. A majority […]

Turnpike Inequity: The Time to Fix it is Now

“I completely get we have an equity issue (with tolls) we need to address”, Richard Davey, the then Secretary of Transportation, conceded to the editorial board of the MetroWest Daily in March 2014. He also stated that tolls wouldn’t likely be removed on the Mass Pike west of Rte. 128 as they were slated to be because the highway likely would not be in a state of good repair. Since his candid admission, efforts to fix the persistent highway inequity have stalled. Conversations about MassDOT’s incoming cashless tolling system have renewed the debate. Legislators have yet to seriously tackle the fairness of charging more for some motorists to drive than others. Drivers using the Pike to get into and out of Boston have paid tolls for […]

Promising implications of MassDOT All Electronic Tolling, with a Catch

Efforts to convert all Massachusetts highways to an electronic tolling system are well underway. Awarded a $130 million contract from the state Department of Transportation (DOT), Raytheon Company hopes to replace all manual and existing toll collection systems by the summer of 2016, eliminating barrier tolls as well as the distinction between ticket- and trip-based tolling. Segments of drivers will instead be routinely charged along mainline highways. All electronic tolling technology shows economic promise for the state. Recent adaptations to the program address the system’s initially inefficient billed fee collection process. According to the transportation department’s most recent annual performance report, E-ZPass accounts for over 72% of all transactions taking place at MassDOT toll facilities. Increased electronic toll transactions from […]