Transit users pay fares. Highway users (sometimes) pay tolls. Transit users have often wondered how much of the fares they pay go to the fare-collection system. For highway tolls, now we have some idea of how much of the toll goes not to highway maintenance or construction, but simply to collect the toll itself.
The costs of toll collection, it turns out, are not inconsiderable. The New Jersey Turnpike Authority runs the NJ Turnpike and the Garden State Parkway, and has disclosed the costs of toll collection; this was reported by Mike Frassinelli in the Star-Ledger (June 27). Not surprisingly, tolls cost less to collect when paid electronically by the E-ZPass system: just 16¢ per toll. When motorists pay cash, the cost of collection rises to an astonishing 65¢ per transaction—more than the toll itself in some cases.
Fortunately for the Authority, E-ZPass usage is rising, to 76% on the Parkway and 79% on the Turnpike. This means fewer jobs for toll collectors, who have seen their salary cut to $49,500 per year. Now we need to know how efficient is the fare system on mass transit.