By Peter Samuel
The Florida Turnpike is engaging in an interesting experiment to test the responsiveness of truckers to varying toll rates in a situation where they have a nearby freeway. January 1 through December 31 this year Floridas Turnpike has in operation Temporary Toll Rates for large trucks (5,6 & 7 axle). Rates are about a third lower than normal rates.
The experiment covers a 175km stretch of the mainline of the pike from its southern end at the Golden Glades interchange in North Miami to the Fort Pierce interchange. In the section under study the free I-95 runs almost parallel with the pike at distances from it varying between 1.5km and about 12km. I-95 is almost a local distributor with more closely spaced interchanges than the pike and it generally runs closer to the coast through more heavily populated areas.
There has long been concern that the lack of a toll on I-95 attracts large trucks from the pike. Many of the trucks would seem to be long distance and better suited to travelling the pike if it were a level playing field in price to the trucker.
A bold policy would be to implement tolls on the trucks travelling the Interstates and rebate them other user-charges to keep total trucker costs the same. With weigh-in-motion and automatic vehicle identification by transponder this is technically quite feasible, and would end the distortion of the toll/no-toll situation side-by-side. A similar proposal has been put for I-80 in Pennsylvania and the state turnpike and NY State Thruway.
Meanwhile the experiment of a third-off will provide some useful data on toll sensitivity. (Info: 800-749-7453)