I've heard economists say that tolls roads are a very inefficient way of collecting taxes (you have to build tollbooths and hire people to collect tolls, etc.). Gas taxes, vehicle registration fees, even sales tax are more efficient collection methods.
Some states are addressing that with “Tolltags” or other automated methods that you can sign up for. I use a “Tolltag” for airport parking at DFW, which is very efficient for me (I barely have to stop and I get invoiced/billed automatically). Most toll automation schemes I've seen, such as “Open Road” tolling in Illinois give you the automated option but still have toll booths for those of us (say, from out of state) to stop and pay our 80 cents or whatever.
In the Dallas area, though, we have a new toll road, referenced in the article above. If you don't have a Tolltag, the state takes a picture of your license plate and mails you a bill. The state saved the money of building toll booths, but wow this seems like a very inefficient system.
The state is paying 30 cents to mail out a 25 cent bill to drivers. The driver then spends 39 cents to mail a check in. I'm not sure which is more wasteful, the state “forgetting” to add the $1 processing fee or having that processing fee (or the processing itself) to begin with. Also, with the current system, Texas cannot bill or collect from out-of-state drivers.
Such waste. I'm not endorsing him for President, but do you think “lean government” proponent Tom Vilsack could do a lot to promote lean thinking, waste reduction, and just plain common sense to government around the country?
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