They should call it “open wallet” tolling

They should call it “open wallet” tolling

The Nanny State giveth and the Nanny State taketh away.

Instead of fumbling for change or navigating through special lanes in transponder-equipped cars, drivers may soon have to do little more than cruise on and off highways passing under a metal beam spanning the entire width of the road.

At the end of the month they’d receive a bill, much like any other utility bill. Except this bill would log each time they entered or exited a highway system, how far they traveled and how much they owed.

The idea is called “open road tolling” and it’s a key recommendation of a new report on ways Massachusetts can close a multi-billion gap in transportation funding over the next two decades.

Let me get this straight: Instead of paying ridiculous tolls on a few highways, bridges, and tunnels, now we’ll pay for the privilege of driving on all highways. And this is being billed as a convenience?

And all the criticism of the plan, at least as enumerated by the Boston Globe comes from privacy advocates? Where are the folks like me who realize that this is a scam designed to sap every last penny out of the working families of Massachusetts?

Here’s a question the Globe reporter could have asked: Why are gas-tax revenues declining? Could it be that ever-larger tax burdens on taxpayers are pushing them to change their habits? But then liberal, big-government economists never take into account that changing economic circumstances actually affect human behavior.

It reminds me of the recent mantra from local officials in response to all the shootings in Boston over the past couple of years: “We need to get the guns off the streets.” Guns? How about getting the criminals off the streets?

And if you don’t see the connection, think about it for a while. It will come to you.

  • I don’t think it’s fair that anyone paying tolls on a road that was paid off in the 80s. But the Dems couldn’t stand the idea of dismantling the gravy train so they took out new bonds and kept it going.

    What’s not fair is that politicians have squandered billions of dollars on pet projects and keeping relatives and coatholders employed while they let infrastructure deteriorate.

    What’s not fair is that the Big Dig’s cost ballooned over the decades to orders of magnitude more because of corruption and mismanagement.

    And through it all, the average Joe Schmoe taxpayer and worker gets to pay for it. Oh and he keeps voting the hacks back into office, so he’s not off the hook either.

  • Dear Dom,

    Well, as I remember from my school days in Haverhill, there were two states in that area:
    1) Taxachusetts
    2) Cow Hampshire.

    Since then, I have learned other nicknames for the Commonwealth, but I cannot repeat them.

  • We have “open-road” tolling in Illinois and it REALLY is convenient (plus cash payers pay twice the toll that those with the I-Pass pay!).

  • I don’t have a problem with open-road tolling, per se. It would be a great convenience over the current method. My problem is with the proposal that every highway in Massachusetts becomes a toll road.

  • I wonder how long before this will make its way north into New Hampshire.  We keep getting more and more Mass. “transplants” and they keep bringing their crazy governmental ideas with them.  We’re already in for a $0.25 hike in all tolls this budget cycle, I can’t imagine it will take long to move to open tolling if it works in MA.  At least we don’t have an income or sales tax.  Yet.

  • Dom,

    Gas-tax revs are going down because people are buying more efficient vehicles.  They will continue to decrease as more hybrids (there are some very neat goodies in the works…) are put on the road.

    Mass., like every other State, wants to raise revenues, preferably faster than inflation, AND they’re looking only 10 years down the road (so to speak) when gasoline taxes will be in a tailspin.

  • Yuck, the privacy part of this bothers me as much as the constantly getting soaked part. But is the problem really just Democrats? I wouldn’t vote Democrat based on the prolife issues, but I guess I only vote for Republicans reluctantly. The impression I get is that 1. the “life” issues for Republicans are often simply a matter of political expediency, and 2. the differences between them in terms of going for our wallets is diminishing. I’d like to be wrong on this, so if anyone can tell me why this is an unfair assessment of Republicans, please do so.

  • You’re right that the differences between the parties is diminishing, but my point in this blog entry is that a one-party monopoly is not good for anyone, whether Republican or Democrat.