The not-so-obvious thing slowly disappearing on NJ toll roads
A lot has changed over the years that affect our everyday lives in New Jersey. Sometimes it's new developments in our towns, while others might deal with relatives moving into or out of state.
Of course, one of the constants in our state is the ever-rising cost of what feels like literally everything, with property taxes among the top of the list. But there are also those things that change subtly, where it's more like phasing in or out over time.
If you're a commuter, then you know this to be true when it comes to our toll roads. The Garden State Parkway, for example, fits this bill perfectly.
Back in its heyday, the Garden State Parkway was supposed to be more of a casual highway. Not only did it have much fewer lanes and volume than it does now, but it was also meant to be a highway that you would want to stop on along the way to your destination.
One example of this would be the picnic areas. In the beginning, the Garden State Parkway had numerous picnic spots up and down its stretch, inviting you to spread out a blanket and enjoy lunch on the grass.
That slowly changed as time went by with the closures of these very unique rest areas. Fast forward to today, and there's only one picnic area left along the very southern portion of the parkway.
That's not the only thing that's changed, however. Another has to do with the toll fare and how we pay them.
In the very beginning, it was simple. We would pay cash or exact change and be on our way. We would slow down as we approached the toll plazas so we could pay the fare.
Often we had to stop, but on occasion, we might try to do the roll by throwing the change into the basket real quickly. Or for some of us, we simply skipped the change and tossed a fare token instead. That lasted for a good portion of our toll road history.
Then E-ZPass was introduced and slowly, most of us phased away from stopping at a toll plaza to slowly cruising through it. Eventually, high-speed tolls were installed allowing us to maintain our speed as we paid electronically.
Aside from that, the Garden State Parkway also saw the introduction of one-way tolling, which raised the price of the toll but also eliminated half the others. Speaking of price, that's also changed quite a bit over the years, but not at a super fast clip.
But let's stay focused on that fare price for a moment since it's related to what's slowly disappearing now. And it's unfortunate because it points to the ever-rising costs of living here in New Jersey.
For the longest time, all you needed was as little as a dime or a quarter to travel through one of New Jersey's tolls. It wasn't much of a burden and we would often keep that change on our cars.
Whether it was 25 cents or even 50 cents, the tolls were relatively reasonable. But now you'd be hard-pressed to find many tolls on any of our roads that are still under a dollar. Yes, some still exist, but it's slowly phasing out, and that's the not-so-obvious thing that's slowly disappearing on New Jersey's toll roads. Fares that are under a dollar.
And we're working our way toward that even more as we head into the future with the latest announcement of yet another fare hike on our toll roads. It's just getting more and more expensive overall (click here to see just how much tolls will be going up).
So along with physical toll plazas that we need to stop at, fares under a dollar will also be a thing of the past in the not-so-distant future. It's unfortunate, too. Doesn't matter how well or poorly we're doing economically, there will always be a reason to justify a toll hike.