As some of you may know from my social media postings, I have recently moved from South Carolina back to my home state of Massachusetts. This was the result of a year-long conversation that culminated in a three-week period of insanity that finds me watching snow flurries out the window of my new home while eating dinner on top of a packing box.
One of the most interesting parts of the adventure was the drive up here. One of my daughters drove the first leg of the trip, overnighting at her home in Washington, D.C. I handled the second stage of the long journey by myself.
Preparing for the trip, Google informed me part of the journey would be over toll roads. Excellent, I thought. I have a SunPass from when I lived in Florida. Surely, in the eight years I had been in South Carolina, the systems among the various states would have been homogenized into one cohesive, interconnected network where any toll pass device from any state would work.
It turns out ours isn’t the only business suffering from disconnected and uncoordinated systems. Despite the fact that you can pay a toll electronically while zipping under a sensor at 70 mph, all the states have yet to find a way to cooperate when it comes to such tolls. Further research revealed that I needed to purchase an E-ZPass device that would work in all of the states from Virginia northward.
So, I plotted out my route and looked for a place where I could purchase the appropriate device. I looked. And I looked. Virtually none of the outlets in Southern Virginia (the first locale where the pass works) were open after 5 p.m. and there was no way we were getting into that state before then. In addition, the few stores that were open late were several miles off the highway.
If I were in a revenue hungry state (and these days, what state isn’t revenue hungry?) and had a way to collect tolls in advance of anyone actually driving on a toll road, I would make these devices conveniently available on demand, 24/7/365! In Japan, they would sell them in vending machines throughout the country.
We finally located a full-service gas/minimart/restaurant just off the interstate. We not only purchased the E-ZPass, we also had dinner, gassed up the vehicle and bought some snacks for the rest of the trip. So not only did the convenience store make their small profit on the E-ZPass, they made the most of an opportunity for a bit of additional revenue.