Saturday, January 22, 2011

Tolls and cameras and fees

It started simple enough with a toll on the Tacoma Narrows bridge. Okay I can understand that. You need a bridge built and can't get enough bond money so you throw a toll on it. And then another bridge gets a toll but this time its' replacement isn't even started. Then they got creative and slapped an electronic tolling feature that automatically bills you. On the Narrows bridge it was a transponder card that you had to pay a regular fee for. Not much of a problem there unless like most computer systems do they screw up which they have. But the Evergreen Point Floating Bridge takes a photo of your license and sends you a bill. Think about that the next time you lend somebody your car. Then there's the confusion of out of state drivers who have no idea how our systems work. This should do wonders for tourism. Imagine getting a bill in the mail when you're on the East coast. Or worse going through the toll gate because you didn't understand the system and having to try and fight it half way across the country.

But the biggest set back to our area will be drivers looking for alternatives to avoid having to pay to go to work. There's only so many alternative routes which are fairly clogged during rush hour now. The idea has always been to increase traffic flow not slow it down. So to deter these toll avoiders the powers that be want to put more tolls on other roads. Not a good idea. On any given Friday things are slow enough. Imagine an accident anywhere near one of these collection stations and you'll be lucky to get home by midnight. Not that I drive much these days but eventually things will change.

Then there's the cameras. You can just about have a view of nearly any major road from the Canadian border to Oregon. And if that's not enough there's one at every supermarket, department store and mall. Of course there's the ones at the banks both inside and out. And if that's not enough coverage for you every cell phone seems to have a camera. Seems you can't sneeze in this country without it landing up on the internet. This is not good folks. We're turning into a nation of detached voyeurs. The human psyche was not meant for this. And we wonder why mental illness is on the rise.
I understand that the UK has us beat. There are places there where their overlords can look into apartment windows. I can just imagine the boys in blue ogling the babe in 36 D who just stepped out of the shower. And we know they can from the latest fountain dive at the mall that went viral. The thing is is that their cameras are even better than the cheap shop owner variety used to "nab the nickers" as they might say over there. Wouldn't surprise me if they were able to count the hairs on.... I won't go there. Everywhere you go there are cameras. And you have to ask has it really made anybody safer? Has it stopped crimes or terrorism? Obviously not. There are still robberies rapes and murders. And god forbid you should forget your lunch box or backpack because you know the next thing you know you'll see it on the 11 o'clock news being blown up by the bomb squad.
Cameras cameras everywhere and no place to hide to even take a dump. But hey they even have a camera that you can swallow just in case they want to get up close and really personal. Privacy laws? HA! You didn't bother to read the fine print on that one. They always have an out when it comes to violating YOUR rights. Laws governing THEM they just ignore. That would be too complicated and hard to prosecute. Jeez I just read this and I'm already starting to sound like I'm cracking around the edges. But I think you get the picture (pun intended).


Anonymous said...

"I'm ready for my closeup now Mr. DeMeur".

Roger Owen Green said...

yes, London in particular can probably follow you from home to work and back

MRMacrum said...

Sounds like you folks out in Washington could take some Toll lessons from us here in the East. We have EZ Pass and it seems to work fine. Can use it all up and down the Atlantic coast - at least as far as Richmond anyway.

Cameras - well I guess it was inevitable. The urge to poke around other people's lives is one of our species more obnoxious tendencies.

The Blog Fodder said...

Can you still buy a mobile phone that just stores phone numbers and acts as a telephone?

Tom Harper said...

The camera inside your computer was watching you as you typed this post. Every keystroke was transmitted to Homeland Security. The Ministry of Love will be stopping by shortly to ask you a few routine questions.

S.W. Anderson said...

I got confused on the Narrows bridge, heading east at dusk with a couple of big trucks to my right. I misunderstood a sign having to do with trucks, I think. Anyway, there's a wide open area to the left where you can just drive toward the bridge, and the tolls are way over on the right. So, I inadvertantly got too far along to go back and through the toll. I got a bill that amounted to a fine about two weeks later.

Yes, I screwed up. Still, I feel it's a confusing damned setup with no way to slow down or stop and figure things out if you're not familiar with it. I can see where it could hurt tourism.

I grew up with toll roads in the East. They have their advantages. The system Macrum mentioned hadn't been invented when I was there, but I'm sure it greatly reduces the inconvenience.

The thing about toll roads is, you can get the roads you need sooner, have them maintained better, with those who use them most paying the most for them. Meanwhile, Granny Frickett, who only takes her Nash Rambler down to the doctor's and Safeway on Thursday, is spared some traffic and expense using city and suburban arterials.

an average patriot said...

One of my sons is in the steel workers union in Florida and judges a job being worthy by how many tolls he has to pay to get there.

I am really torn with the cameras. I don't like feeling spied on but every day I see a murder or a crime in Massachusetts solved because of surveillance cameras.

Sterling "Chip" Camden said...

Sorry to post irrelevantly here, but Stu Savory recommended I contact you. He said you might have some good insights on this article I wrote for TechRepublic:

BTW, I see you're up here near Seattle, too. I'm on Bainbridge Island.

BBC said...

The cameras out in public don't bother me at all, I'm not doing anything wrong out there.

I don't use the toll bridges much, I think I've been over the narrows bridge twice since it went to a toll.

But you gave me an idea, what is the license number on your truck so I can make a copy of it for when I do.

Demeur said...

Thanks for stopping by Chip. Hope I was of help.

Billy it won't work I don't drive a truck. But you might try smearing mud all over the plate. ;-)

BBC said...

Oh, I was thinking you had a Ford pickup.