Saturday, January 7, 2012

How Much is it Worth To Travel on the New Jersey Turnpike – About $20 an Hour on One Stretch

And Gov. Christie Blames Toll Increase on his Predecessor

January 1 always brings with it new rules and regulations and other stuff, and in New Jersey it brought with it sharply increased tolls on the New Jersey Turnpike.  Although these increases happen a year after Republican Gov. Chris Christie took office, he was quick to blame the former Governor,

New Jerseyans knew the second step was coming, and as 2011 ended, Gov. Chris Christie made it clear that he had had nothing to do with the increases.

“Oh, and by the way, I’m not raising tolls 50 percent,” he said on radio station WFAN-AM on Dec. 23.

“Who is?” the interviewer asked.

Jon Corzine did,” Mr. Christie said, referring to his predecessor, who favored the plan to raise money for road and bridge work.

Notice of course a couple of things here.  First of all the current Gov. made no effort to repeal the increase, because in this way he can reap the benefits of the higher revenue and place the blame elsewhere.  Classic politics, regardless of party.  But also notice that while the toll increase may or may not be too high, it supports a pretty good principle, namely that the people who use the highways need to be the ones to help pay for their construction and upkeep.

But the real news here was an experiment done by two reporters from the New York Times to see how much time was saved by taking the Turnpike as opposed to the local roads routes 1 and 9.  Here is the result.

Extrapolating the difference in driving times, and throwing a couple of weeks of vacation into the calculation, a driver could save about $3,200 in tolls by avoiding the turnpike all year, but would spend about 160 hours doing it — or $20 an hour, if the driver’s time really is money.

Of course the best of both worlds is to car pool or use public transportation, the costs go down so the time savings is almost free and our transportation system is better utilized.  Maybe that will happen, but if it does don’t expect Mr. Corzine to be given any credit.  After all, the role of Democrats in politics is to take the blame for the cost of things, and for Republicans to take the glory from the benefits that are provided by taxes. 

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