Monday, 25 April 2011

Call for electronic free flow for New Jersey Turnpike Authority

Map of the two New Jersey toll roads
The advantages of electronic free flow tolling over manual tolls are obvious.  On heavily used toll roads such manual booths are obvious bottlenecks which can create long tailbacks and delays to motorists.  However, a growing issue is cost.  According to the Gloucester County Times, New Jersey (USA), 90% of toll booth staff of the (state owned) New Jersey Turnpike Authority (responsible for the New Jersey Turnpike and Garden State Parkway) are earning US$65,000 per annum (which compares well to the US GDP per capita average of around US$47,000).

That means that moving to electronic free flow tolling not only would remove the cost of delays through time and wasted fuel, but also administrative costs.   Apparently 70% of trips now use the electronic EZ-Pass system that avoids this, no doubt mostly being locals who prefer to get past the queues where the toll plazas widen.   However, there is every good reason to go further and fully automate toll collection.

The paper reports how the Turnpike Authority is to vote on Wednesday 27 April whether to privatise the collection and operation of the toll roads, which would allow any company responsible to adopt whatever techniques it wishes to deliver such efficiencies.  The Gloucester County Times supports it, as so it should.  Electronic free flow tolling is not cutting edge, it is proven technology.  As long as New Jersey has access to the enablers to make it work, it should proceed so that New Jersey toll roads are no longer working with 19th century technology.

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