Beginning May 2014, the local toll roads no longer accept cash. Drivers can either have a FasTrack transponder, or sign up for an ExpressAccount. One-time visitors can use the toll roads but must visit the website within 48 hours to pay.
What’s so inane about that you ask? In the months prior to this event, TheTollRoads was advertising “Cash tolling ends in X days”. Tolling. A toll is a fee that you pay. Toll as a verb is what a bell does when you ring it. You cannot just add “ing” to the end of a noun and “create” a verb. An easy test (if you are too lazy to use a dictionary) is to try adding “ing” to a synonym (word that means the same). Toll is a fee. So, does it make any sense to say “Cash feeing ends in X days”? Hmm… seems awkward, doesn’t it? The toll levied is also the price for passage, so let’s try that: “Cash pricing ends in X days”. Nope, that doesn’t work either, does it?
Just in case you are curious, the toll roads (133, 241 and 261) were built with loans that can only be paid back by tolls. For the fiscal year 2013, operating revenues were $129.4 million representing 56,173,061 transactions. As of December 2013, the outstanding bond debt was $2.3 billion. Just doing some basic math shows that (not including interest), the principal will take 17.8 years to repay at current usage levels (2031). Interest will push this out several more years, and the debt is now due in 2053, but with no pre-payment penalty. It will be interesting to see if the toll collection system is dismantled (as one would hope) when the loans are paid. Government does have a nasty habit of keeping revenue collection going even when it’s no longer needed, and they are simply making a profit with it.