Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Coming Soon to a Freeway Near You

A year ago Florida introduced cashless toll roads. Cameras arranged above the toll ways photograph passing vehicles’ license plates. In due time the auto’s owner gets a bill for the toll charge. The system is at present limited to the Miami/Dade region and south, including the only convenient freeway that gives access to the Florida Keys. As best as I can make out, the only other state that “offers” this new convenience is Texas—but I understand that Missouri is pondering such a scheme as well. Progress, progress.

Here the consequences of a political culture where cutting taxes has taken on the rudiments of a new religion. Just ponder the benefits. Foremost among these, from the states’ point of vantage, is that people employed in collecting tolls at booths may be laid off; in the construction of new toll ways, toll booth construction may also be avoided—although mounting metallic structures to hold the cameras will be a new cost. No people needed. Lenses and computers do the whole job.

What this portends is that, ultimately, all roads will turn into toll roads once cities catch up with the states. As technology makes yet another leap, it may also be possible, perhaps, to measure the intake of air by people breathing as they walk on public thoroughfares, like sidewalks, and air intake will then be tolled next. That, of course, will generate additional exciting industries such as breathing masks with little tanks, the oxygen inside them priced just a mill or so below the cost of the cashless air toll of the future.

Ain’t it grand to be living in our hi-tech times?


  1. They are in use in Colorado too, the E-470:

    My concern is the privacy one: the more of these there are, the more checkpoints the government has to monitor our movements.

    More disturbing is that we will gladly give the freedom up to get the convenience.

    1. Thanks for the addition to the list, russel. There really is a trend here...

  2. You could, of course, just charge a reasonable tax on gasoline and diesel that pays for the infrastructure required to drive motor vehicles, but I'm sure that would be decried as "socialism" by those who have seemed so desperate over the past three years to prove that they have no idea what socialism is.

    1. You are innovation-challenged, John, and clearly unfit to hold the office that you hold. Raising money for simple things like infrastructure has now become a form of "art."

    2. Interesting idea...

      lets see in California, per gallon:

      Federal Fuel Tax $.184
      State Fuel Tax $.357
      State Underground Storage Tank Fee (UST) $.020

      Plus local sales tax, another $.3825 at our current $4.50 rate it is still not enough to maintain our roads.

      So now, on top of the taxes, we have tolls. On top of tolls, we have privacy concerns.

      I guess if you are not part of the solution, you are part of the participate.