A toll road (also called a: tollway, turnpike, toll highway, or express toll route) is a privately or publicly built road for which the user of the road is required to pay a fee, or toll. Tolls are a form of user tax that usually pays for the cost of road construction and maintenance without raising taxes on non-users. Historically, and sometimes today, tolls are collected as a type of tax for the use of the local government or lord. Investor's bonds necessary to pay for the construction and maintenance of the roads are issued and sold with the expectation that the bonds will be paid back over time by user tolls. After the bonds are paid off the road typically reverts to the government agency that owns the land it was built on and had authorized the construction. Access to toll roads are restricted to prevent non-payers from using the road. Toll roads may be built to allow some users to travel faster from one location to another—relieving traffic congestion and speeding up traffic for those who can afford it. These type systems may be one restricted toll lane or more on an otherwise "free" road—all roads have to be paid for somehow and are never "free". Normally, road construction costs are paid for by the taxes on gasoline, diesel, or other fuel. Users of toll roads still pay these taxes and the tolls for using this particular road or lane.
Fees or tolls usually vary by vehicle type, weight or number of axles. Fees or tolls were traditionally collected by hand by toll gate workers at toll booths, toll houses, toll plazas, toll stations, toll bars or toll gates. Some toll collection points are unmanned and the user deposits money in a receptacle which measures the amount and allows passage or entry if sufficient. To cut cost and minimize time delay many tolls today are collected with some form of automatic or electronic toll collection utilizing some sort of electronic communication from a toll payer's transponder and the toll collection system. Toll booths are usually still required for the occasional users who have not obtained a transponder—yet. The tolls are often prepaid or collected "automatically" from an affiliated credit card service. Some toll roads have "automated" toll enforcement systems that take photos of drivers and their license plates for people who do not pay the tolls—these non-payers typically get the toll bill along with a fine.
One of the criticisms of toll roads is the additional time they take to stop and pay for the tolls and the additional cost of paying for all the toll booth operators—up to about one-third of revenue in some cases. Automated toll paying systems help minimize the time lost for collecting tolls and the cost of toll collection operations. Others object to paying "twice" for the same road: in fuel taxes and with tolls.
In addition to toll roads, toll bridges and toll tunnels are also used by public authorities for revenue generation to repay for long-term debt issued to finance the building and maintenance of the toll facility. Some tolls are collected to accumulate finances to build future capacity expansion and maintenance of roads, tunnels, bridges, etc. Some tolls are used as general tax fund for local governments and may have little or nothing to do with transportation facilities. These types of tolls are usually limited or prohibited by central government legislation. Also road congestion pricing schemes have been implemented in a limited number of urban areas as a transportation demand management tool in an attempt to reduce traffic congestion and air pollution.
Famous quotes containing the words toll and/or road:
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—Ron Taffel (20th century)
“How can I go on, I cannot. Oh just let me flop down flat on the road like a big fat jelly out of bowl and never move again!”
—Samuel Beckett (19061989)