After the toll booths, where did the toll collectors go?
It has been almost two years since Massachusetts implemented fully cashless toll collection. The hope was to improve traffic flow, decrease harmful environmental emissions, increase safety and save money on personnel costs that could be redirected to maintenance or other capital projects.
In 2016, 446 employees operated toll booths on the Mass Pike and Tobin Bridge. The average annual pay during 2015 for Toll Collector I and Toll Collector II was approximately $63,000 and $73,834, respectively. Factoring overtime pay, many employees were making over $100,000 .
In this post-manual toll collection era, many have asked: Where did the toll collectors go?
The Commonwealth gave the toll collectors a few options. Eligible toll collectors were allowed to retire under the Early Retirement Incentive Program (ERIP) or could opt for a cash stipend. Workers also had the option to be trained in another discipline in the public transportation sector, and those who weren’t able to be trained were put on a priority list for alternative jobs.
Through MassOpenBooks, we reviewed toll collectors’ salaries from 2015 until their positions were eliminated, and determined if they switched jobs in the Department of Transportation (MassDOT) or retired from public service. Our sample to review included those with less common first and last names to make sure it was the same person in MassOpenBooks, and not another person with the same name.
Of the 74 toll collectors we reviewed in 2016, 54, or 73 percent of the sample, retired once their jobs were eliminated. We then reviewed the status of the remaining 19 employees in 2016, the year they transitioned to new jobs. The majority of those employees became either maintenance equipment operators or engineering aides.
Those employees who transitioned from working as a toll collector to another job currently earn less money. This pay does not account for overtime.
Amy Tournas is the Roger Perry Government Transparency intern at Pioneer Institute. She studies Government and Global Studies at Colby College.