Sunday, August 12, 2007

And so on for the next 99 years

If I doubted the wisdom of selling Indiana toll roads to Australian public companies, a recent trip to Michigan confirmed my worst fears. On a Saturday morning, usually a time of easy unobstructed traffic, there was a massive traffic jam at the toll plaza. After waiting more than half an hour, we saw that, rather than having eight computerized lanes for processing traffic, there was just a single person person, manually processing a single lane of cars, each paying thirty five cents.

My memory turned back to other times when the toll plazas had experienced computer failures. Before the Australians took over, employes would simply wave the traffic through. Every driver was probably a voter, and with the toll authority was under the nominal control of the government, the staff could expect a severe reprimand if they wasted a half hour of a customer's time in order to collect a thirty five cent toll. A foreign corporation, of course, wants to maximize revenue in every way possible, and the only alternative available to those who don't like the way they run their business is to lobby our government to build another toll road or highway.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Agreed and amen barrow. But whether it's Aussie or Illinois, the slowing and waiting in fossil fuel spewing conveyances to pay a toll is barbaric and shows a catastrophic lack of collective civic imagination. Who remembers the ballyhooed promise deliverd circa-Ike times that these great concrete arteries would be paid for in under a decade? It simply became normal to stop every thirty or fourty miles and perform a penance of constriction. Are there studies on this? Are there classified studies on this?
My own sense is that the tolls on I-90 in Illinois are now underwriting profligacy projecting generations in advance.
Nevertheless, one adjusts to greater affronts and sadness than the arbitrary deaccelerations, the ribbed speed bumps, the brightness of colored codes.
And I, for one, could accept the Aussie's part were a loudspeaker to boom Waltzing Matilda, a rousing number at those appointed stations in which the pound of flesh is levied.

8:05 PM  

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