The ScudderFallsBridge Experiment
New Jersey and Pennsylvania governors, Christie and Rendell respectively, have hatched a scheme to lease the ScudderFalls bridge on I-95, just north of Philadelphia, to a private firm which will, for the first time there, charge tolls.
Since both governors refuse to require proper taxation (especially of the wealthy) to adequately cover necessary state expenses for public services, the states can't now afford to build and maintain that bridge"and much more. Those officials caused the problems, now complain about them, and propose private, not public, "solutions". They are indistinguishable from arsonists getting paid to put out the fires they started.
Why that bridge, part of the federal highway system, can't get federal funding to help rebuild, and prevent tolls, is an overlooked topic.
A most troubling part of this plan is that there will be no human toll collectors or even basket-drop toll booths. No money required. This will be for E-ZPass customers---or else cameras will take a picture of your license plate and a bill will be mailed to the address of vehicle registration whether or not the driver is the car owner, or if the driver/owner even plans to be home until next Christmas to get that mail in time to avoid penalties.
There are some questions about this idea:
- The pay-toll-by-mail-or-credit-card system involves private businesses collecting the name, home address, phone number, social security number perhaps, credit card number, auto registration details, and more, from the owners (not necessarily the drivers) of tens of thousands of cars a day that cross that bridge.
Police no longer need Probable Cause to check those papers because they can do it from their car, without a court order, by computer. ACLU, where are you? But the private bridge business administrators have no police authority and are not deputized, yet will do that search (without Probable Cause, as if that matters) anyway. Ordinary citizens or even un-authorized government employees cannot go that far into Motor Vehicle records and the personal information they contain.
Many, for understandable reasons, do not want any persons (including, or especially, corporate "persons") being able to trace their name and addressjust from license plate numbers.
- What absolute assurances, enforced by what penalties, are there to forbid the private bridge leasing firm from using the information for anything except toll collection?
What penalties are established if the information was used for commercial purposes for, say, advertising tourist or automotive services? What about using it to enforce auto insurance patronage or to find parking ticket scofflaws or those in default of alimony or student loan payments, or on and on? Can the info be used to find immigrants, Mexican or Irish or etc., who have over-stayed their visas? Will Homeland Security use this to monitor road travels of those on "no fly" lists or whatnot? Will opponents of this idea be branded "pro-terrorism"? Of course they will.
- If the toll for cars is to be a dollar, or two dollars, (it's not settled) that fee is increased not only by the 44 cent (for now) stamp needed to mail the toll payment (unless done by revealing credit card info to this private business on-line), but also there is to be an added "administrative fee""how much, not mentioned in the news"for those who don't patronize the E-Z Pass business.
Yes, there is to be a penalty for not patronizing E-ZPass, a private entity, not part of any public highway department or other agency. To restate"public government officials will penalize drivers for not contributing to the profits of a private business.
- In a time of unemployment problems, it's a slap in the face of workers to eliminate toll booth jobs. Where do toll booth attendant unions stand, or stomp, on this?
- Toll collectors are not just toll collectors. They are also often invaluable for providing directions. Lost or confused drivers are not recommendedon highways. Having to stop to open the window and pay a toll provides a distraction to drivers from "highway hypnosis". It's a breath of fresh air...exhaust fumes notwithstanding. That benefit will now be eliminated.
- Does this camera-toll system have reciprocal agreements with motor vehicle departments in every state and every Province of Canada? Will all those states and Provinces do this info retrieval favor for the bridge leasers for free?