The latest chapter in Turnpike Follies, will not be the last.
The real story behind the Sunday Pike problem is as follows:
By Christy Mihos
The Massachusetts Turnpike Authority is on a mission. It must put forth the canard that its suffering deep financial ruin, so to win the day for a whopping, highest in the Country gas tax of 50 cents per gallon for the Governor.
Those on the Pike Sunday--became ensnared in this fiasco in real time.
Trust? The Pike admitted that they overcharged a million Fast Lane customers and there is no way to get money back to them.
The Pike has developed minimum staffing levels that were instituted to save money. Unfortunately the minimum staffing levels were affixed to all shifts and when a Holiday with maximum road traffic comes upon us, disaster happens. Add to this there is a provision in the Toll Collectors contract that allows a two  hour notice for a paid vacation day, and sick day designation - see where this is heading.
So too, the MTA is trying to convert drivers to Fast Lane Transponder customers and eliminate manual tolling. Why not? The Transponder is four times faster, four times more cost efficient [7 cents per transponder transaction to over 30 cents per manual transaction], plus the automated transaction does not get vacation days, sick days, or an average $66,000 base annual pay.
Why only 15% want a Fast Lane pass
PROBLEM - only 15% of Massachusetts trucks and automobiles are equipped with Fast Lane Transponders - that means 85% don't have them and don't want them. These drivers don't trust the Pike with access to their checking accounts nor their credit cards. Why the problem? The Pike admitted that they overcharged 1,000,000 Fast Lane customers and there is no way to get money back to them. So you see the conundrum. No Trust- no solution.
The Turnpike has $570 million in safe, secure government investments and their profit last year was over $100 million.
I should disclose that as a former Member and Officer of the MTA Board, in August 2003, I offered a motion to give out Fast Lane Transponders FREE - the cost benefit to the MTA was incredible - a 100 day payback to the MTA for its investment in giving free transponders - any business would adopt a 100 day Return on Investment in a heartbeat - not by Board though as I could not even get a second to my motion.
That was almost SIX years ago - today they're giving them out for free. But what the Pike leadership does not understand is that you can not create demand. If people don't want what you are selling no matter if its free - they don't want it or they don't trust it or they don't want anything to do with your business or organization.
That's the issue here. And when the Pike screams no money - look at their last audited statement - they have over $570,000,000.00 in safe, secure government investments and their profit last year was over $100,000,000.00. Those numbers are disclosed on their website. There is no trust.
This latest chapter in Turnpike Follies, will not be the last. The gas tax will not be enacted. Today millions of people will demonstrate and protest against a system that rewards mismanagement, corruption, and inefficiency and forgets the working men and women of this country. Patriots Day is upon us. Think about it.