During our recent jaunt to Boston we crossed the Tobin Memorial Bridge. The last time we did so, a few years ago, there were real people taking real cash at a real toll booth. But no more. The bridge is still a toll road, but no more toll booths. Instead regular users obtain an EZPass subscription, and occasional users are charged using PayByPlate and receive an invoice in the mail a few weeks later. While I lament both the loss of jobs and the human touch – giving directions etc. – I am impressed with the technology.
With just a couple of reservations. The image below shows the envelope that arrived yesterday containing my $3.00 toll fee and instructions on how to pay it. No problem, I crossed the bridge, I will pay the toll. But could they have done a better job of making the envelope look like disposable junk mail had they tried? A simple white or brown envelope, with appropriate warnings, seems more likely to make it up from my letter box, and less likely to be immediately dumped in the recycling box.
I also wonder if it is economically viable to spend $1.20 on postage – and I assume some handling costs as well – to collect a $3.00 fee? According to the Boston Herald, in the first two months of use the City is owed $700,000 in outstanding tolls (that can now be revised downward to $699,997 with my payment)!