The Pain of Tolls

The payments involved in a running a car seems never-ending, maintenance, insurance, tax. But most annoying of these is probably tolls. It is always important to know how to pay a toll before you travel on a specific road: the onus is on you, should you wish to travel from one state or another or through a number of states.

The term toll road is mainly west coast terminology. In the east tolls exist but they’re called turnpikes.

Shunpiking – is the term for cheating tolls by running tollbooths or concealing tags (RFID). It has unfortunately increased, especially in areas where the toll is thought to be too high or when the road isn’t managed properly. Shunpiking – from shun meaning to avoid and turnpike which is the old name for a toll road. Of course, people have been trying to evade tolls as long as they’re have been tolls to avoid.

History of Tolls:

In Nevada, 100 toll roads were laid between 1850-1880. This was to finance stagecoach companies and mining countries, though it is now run by individual organizations such as Transportation Corridor Agencies in Florida 

In the east, the highways were nearly all toll-roads by 1950s, only 10% of road funding came from taxes. So, it’s a long-held tradition.

Legal Ways to Skip Tolls:

A boycott occurred at the James River Bridge in Eastern Virginia, starting from 1955. Trucks of the Smithfield Packing Company who always used the bridge before, were told by their employer to take a different route. This continued for twenty years until finally the toll was dropped.

Legal ways of skipping the toll exist. With a little bit of research, you can route around them. Take the Delaware Turnpike and similar ones in Pennsylvania and Oklahoma. In fact, some toll roads exist merely as a shortcut to bypass a congested artery.

Sometimes a private landowner fights government attempts to acquire their land for a road but succumbs to an opportunity to make far more money by leasing the land to a developer who builds a toll road across it. Want to get there for free? A way exists. Want to get there fast, pay a little and you can.

Paying Tolls:

When it comes to paying the tolls there are easy way to do it, such as the E-Z Pass on the north- eastern roads. In some cases, the license plates are registered, in other cases, drivers pay after they used the road. Some sites such as a FasTrack account (which works in California, including San Francisco’s Golden Gare Bridge) allow for the addition of a temporary number plate, e.g. from a rented car.

Transponders are a common way to pay tolls; they record your badge to charge your tolls, either by check or by debit cards. Sometimes by prepay and other times after each use. These are a good way of saving you money if you regularly pay tolls. Look at the math and see what the best option is. (Why this method of payment is called a “transponder” is a bit of a mystery., it’s some kind of wireless device, nothing to do with transport or the internet as such).

When using a manned toll booth take some time to count your cash. An unmanned toll booth tends to use a basket, it’s important to have the correct change.

As well as toll roads you need to pay extra money to use High Occupancy Toll (HOT) lanes or express lanes. Much like the private toll roads mentioned earlier, these lanes exist to allow you to skip the congestion for a small fee. It’s probably worth it if you are trying keep to a deadline.

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