Opinion: The tolls went up like a thief in the night
Call me a Luddite but I don’t use E-ZPass. It’s not the technology I have a problem with. It’s the principle.
When New Jersey’s toll roads were built years ago there was a pact with the public. The agreement was tolls would be charged only long enough for construction bonds to be paid off. Once the road was paid for those tolls were supposed to come down and they never did. The NJ Turnpike Authority, if pressed, will give you a bureaucratic smoke and mirrors answer but what it comes down to is for decades they skirted the elimination of tolls by constantly expanding both the roads and agency to remain perpetually in debt therefore perpetually in existence. Sort of the quasi-government form of California’s Winchester Mystery House.
One thing I don’t like about E-ZPass is the tolls come out of your prepaid account. You feel it less. The tolls seems less real that way, and trust me they like it that way. In fact they like it so much the Turnpike Authority is doing the bare minimum to make drivers aware the tolls went up Sunday in a massive hike. Those big overhead signs that yell at you about wearing a seatbelt or let you know Murphy will be over-brining the lanes? Not a word about the toll hikes.
In fact according to NJ.com the only warnings to drivers at all came from a few poster-sized signs at certain toll plazas that were apparently not very obvious. I’m sure it was the legal bare minimum. Many drivers will have no clue that tolls went up by 27% on the Parkway and 36% on the Turnpike until they see their E-ZPass statements and find out their accounts are more depleted than usual.
In other words this toll agency thrives on you not thinking about it. In fact, when by law public hearings have to happen for any toll increase, they decided to hold sham public hearings during a deadly pandemic when the government was telling us not to go out and study in our homes. And the governor allowed this charade.
So welcome to the latest hit 2020 has for you, and if you so much as blinked you missed it I’ll bet.