IPASS is A Good Thing

Chicago has a lot of tollways. The history of the tollway is kind of interesting. Supposedly the idea of the toll was created so that the toll would be charged to pay for the creation of the tollway. In other words, Illinois would build the road but you would have to pay to use it, at least until the cost of building the road was recouped. Of course, it turns out that tollways need to be repaired and resurfaced every so often so instead of getting rid of the toll when the road was paid off, they kept the toll to pay for ongoing maintenance. So we have lots of tollways in Chicago and a lot of gridlock during rush hour because of all the people who have to look around for change to pay the toll.

A few years ago, IPASS was introduced to the Illinois tollway system. IPASS is a little transponder that you get and stick to your windshield by your rearview mirror. When you get the transponder, you give your credit card number and IPASS charges you $40. The money goes towards future tolls. As you drive through a toll booth, the transponder sends a signal, the toll is charged to your $40, and you cruise right past the booth without stopping. What a great idea!

The first version of IPASS was simple. You use the same toll booth lanes as everyone else but you don’t have to stop to pay, you just drive on through. This was an improvement but you still had to wait for all the nutjobs ahead of you who were still digging around for change. The second version of IPASS was better and is really what we have now. The Illinois Department of Transportation has been going around and creating IPASS-only lanes. These lanes are typically high-speed detours around the toll booth lanes where everyone has to have IPASS. These lanes are great! While other people have to stop and pay the toll, I just zoom past in the IPASS lane.

Unfortunately, there is still a problem during rush hour. The number of cars on the road is so great, and the number of IPASS-deficient cars is so huge, that the traffic going into the toll booth lanes stretches for a mile. IPASS people like me can’t get to the IPASS lanes because of all the slow IPASS-deprived snails ahead of me. Eventually I can get into the IPASS lane but by then the damage is done because on the other side of the toll booth lanes is another jam caused by all those slow IPASS-lacking sloths trying to merge back and get going again.

So the Illinois legislature is considering doubling the toll charged in non-IPASS lanes to provide a financial incentive for using getting IPASS and using the IPASS lanes. I say TRIPLE or QUADRUPLE it!!! Get these people out of my way! Wait, I have a better idea. Let’s go over to Germany and get some of those Gestapo people and have them man the toll booths. Then when you pull up and start digging around for change, the Gestapo will jump out and search you and your car and ask for your “papers”. Give them some nice automatic weapons to really increase that scare factor. Then maybe these IPASS-goofs will finally get with the program.