Thursday, December 29, 2011

The Phantom Tollbooth

Does anyone remember this book? It was a children's book (and, according to Wikipedia, a "modern fairytale") about a boy who receives a magic tollbooth, which, when driven through, transports him to a magical land called The Kingdom of Wisdom.

That is much more fun than real tollbooths.

Tolling began today, after many months of false starts and mishaps, on the 520 bridge that connects Seattle and Bellevue. If there's one thing that didn't change throughout my two years in New Hampshire--and many things did, including my fundamental feelings for the state itself--it's my hatred for tolls.

Raise the taxes! Charge more for gas! But for heaven's sake, don't take my seventy-five cents every time I need to drive south on Highway 16. Who just has 75 cents lying around regularly?

What's even worse about the toll over the 520 bridge is that it is $3.50. Each way. The fact of the matter is, it is now going to cost me $140 a month to drive to work, not including the gas I pay for regularly (and this, coming the same month that my hefty student loans go into repayment). The fact of the matter is, this doesn't affect the wealthy, the people who can afford spontaneous expenses, the people who won't effectively be surrendering over a day's pay in order to drive to work. It affects people like me, who live paycheck to paycheck and don't have room in their budget for an added $140 every month. It affects the people who can't afford to live close their jobs, who couldn't find jobs close enough to their homes, the people who sometimes don't go out for a much needed drink because tomorrow is payday, and not today.

I cross 520 every day, twice. That is seven dollars a day, just to make it to work and back home again. I found a job in Bellevue, not because I wanted to. Not because I love driving to work. Were the bus system more user-friendly, if I did not have to wake up at 5:00 am in order to take three buses and still have to walk over a mile to work, I wouldn't be driving. From WSDOT to me, this holiday season: yet another reason to get out of Bellevue.

1 comment:

Chelsea said...

Jesus, I had no idea it was going to be that much!