You ever read something that makes you want to bash your face into your keyboard (“this blog” is not an acceptable or creative answer)? Okay, me too. Today it came from an article about the cost of tolls, published in the Dallas Morning News. I managed to evade it when it was first published, but Facebook (my nemesis) kept pushing it to the top of my newsfeed. Dammit.
I love Texas, I really do. But this is A Blog About Things That Irritate Me. Maybe one day I’ll submit “53.5 Reasons Why Dallas is the Best” to Buzzfeed. But here, all is fair — and hearing Texans talk about tolls (whether as consumers or as NTTA representatives) makes me want to cry.
First thing in this article….
The emergence of North Texas as Toll Road Capital, USA, represents failure of government of the worst kind. We have to pay for what we could do for free.
Oh, really? I forgot that the rest of America has free roads. They just appear over night, constructed by the street elves that make each piece of material out of magic, hopes, and dreams. I think the author is a Dallas native, so I’m not pointing the finger at him for this…for some reason this idea runs rampant in Texas. It’s like “the man” has come to destroy our fun and make us pay for our roads. Meanwhile, we don’t have a state income tax — and has anyone else ever made the drive from DC to Boston? Because it is $$$ and each of those states charges income tax to their residents.
I once reported the story of a 34-year-old single mother who spent 27 hours in the Allen jail and then the Collin County Detention Center. Police wouldn’t even tell her, at first, why they were arresting her. It was all about a toll bill for $11 from years before. She said she never got it.
I ended up having to Google it, but this is the case he’s talking about. If we had a debtor’s prison in America, Sallie Mae would be the number one reason people are in prison, not drugs. What genius created the TX provision that says not paying tolls is theft akin to stealing money from a business instead of equating it to credit card debt? Did it seem more likely that people would pay their debts if they were criminally prosecuted, and hopefully subjected to prison? I hear the going rates for jobs in prison are excellent. What does NTTA say about this?
At present, individuals do not go to jail for failure to pay a toll. If a warrant is issued and someone goes to jail, it’s because they failed to appear in JP court to address a citation for failure to pay a toll issued under Section 366.178 of the Texas Transportation Code.
At present? Who the fuck do you think you are, NTTA? Capital One can’t throw you in jail for owing $500,000, but god forbid you owe $10 to NTTA…at present you can’t go to jail…but maybe later. Enough of this bullshit thing where NTTA is publicly run and privately run and no one really knows what’s going on. You can go to jail for not paying fines to the state, but you can’t go to jail for not paying fines to a private corporation. Get your shit together. And why is Texas allowing this to happen? Why not just garnish your wages like REGULAR DEBT?
Here’s the thing. I’m not mad at the article (other than the ridiculous claim that non-toll roads are “free”). I’m pissed off that NTTA abuses its power — and I’m even more pissed off about people bitching about NTTA. I never hear people complain they’re going to jail. That is clearly a small, tiny portion of North Texas drivers. I’m pissed that people bitch and moan that roads should be free, that tollways shouldn’t have traffic, that the LBJ sliding scale HOV tolls are evil, etc. Just pay the goddamn toll. I’m one of a very few people I know of that actually pay the tolls. WHY?!
There’s this myth in Texas that everything is just different there. We get a tiny quarter inch of snow — it’s different than the snow anywhere else. We get a tollroad — it’s different than tollroads anywhere else. Not in the fact that you can, in a backwards sort of way, end up in jail. But because we have to pay the tolls. Let’s just take federal funding, charge an income tax, and call it a day…then we’ll see what you like better. If you’re going to complain about NTTA, complain about the weird public/private power it has, not that you can’t go places for free.