Friday, April 01, 2011

Who's the Fool?

One of Bloomfield's semi-dubious distinctions is that it has more Garden State Parkway entrances and exits than any other town in NJ. So many of us Bloomfielders who rely on exact change lanes found that local media stories on the GSP's new "camera tracking" policy raised more issues than they claimed to have resolved.
The story was one of many in that foolishly seemed to accept the GSP talking points without question.
There are more unanswered questions in this story than I've seen in a long time:

1. Who's to blame when the coin readers fail? Do we have to get out and photograph the jammed receptacle?
2. How can drivers prove that they actually paid the exact fare -- or more?
3. Where can they appeal an erroneous fine?
4. What proportion of failures happen at unmanned Pkwy entrances?
5. Isn't this a penalty for those who will never use EZ-passes because
they're rarely on toll roads, have too many cars to cover,
or are wary of the failures and abuses of a computer driven system?
6. Why can't a dollar bill machine(or a smart phone reader) be installed?

Perhaps, the GSP press release was taken at face value because most reporters use EZ Passes to save time and have never had to deal with the realities and insanities of exact change lanes. (Of course the GSP officials who design these policies NEVER need to use exact change lanes.)

Thankfully, many of the online versions of the story allow for reader comments.
These were a few I found on from Bloomfield drivers:

" Will they allow you to back up and go to the next exit? They might want to put a sign on the main line warning people that exiting without exact change or EZ Pass will cost $50 I hope they are also ready for the backups. Because I'd spend a few minutes looking through my car for the money before paying the fine. 15 minutes of checking under the seats, floormats, trunk, etc would be worth not paying $50."
Or this solution: "Better yet, get rid of the tolls that are expensive to collect, and raise the NJ gas tax by 3 cents to maintain these highways."
"Okay, there was a great comment on The $50 for non-exact change is completely unconstitutional...>>>The federal government states that our money is valid "for all debts, public and private". You can not refuse to accept paper money (this has already been to the US Supreme Court). If the state does not make provisions for paper money then they will lose in court…"
"I seem to find that more and more, I'm having to honk and wait, as my toll money goes down the chute but never seems t register. And to top it all off, the Ledger posts a pic of the plaza in Bloomfield, which could easily be the poster child for busted toll baskets!"

The wisest course for non-pass holders right now would seem to be keeping a piggy bank in your trunk.

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