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State & Union Officials Debate Proposal To Privatize Toll Collection In New Jersey

TRENTON, NJ (CBS) — A decision is expected next week on a proposal to privatize toll collection on the New Jersey Turnpike and the Garden State Parkway. On Thursday, State and union officials appeared before an Assembly Committee in Trenton to make their cases.

Transportation Commissioner James Simpson, who also chairs the Turnpike Authority, told the Assembly State Government Committee that he’s got a new proposal from the main union — that staffers are pouring over. But they’re trimming spending, and if that means taking 8-hundred toll taker jobs private, so be it.

“There’s not any ideological bent at this administration to outsource or to privatize at all costs.”

Turnpike workers union head Fran Ehret said that they’ve made millions in cost cutting offers since January, only to be ignored time and again by management.

“We’ve tried to do the right thing and we never got a response to our proposal. Not even once. Not a phone call. Not a letter.”

But there is litigation — and pending labor charges filed. Simpson insists no final decision on privatization has been made. The union doesn’t believe him.

Reported by KYW’s David Madden

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One Comment

  1. Tom Mervine says:

    Most of the country does not have tolls for roads or bridges. Just the north East have these toll roads. I believe that the the toll system should be illuminated. The people working there are political cronies and are paid way to much for the work they do! But since governments get addicted to money sources we should privatize the toll system. Keep the pension burden off NJ’s books.

  2. Vince Bottone says:

    im all for unions ,I think unions are good for the middle class and provide livable wages…that being said toll collectors are overpaid at 50 plus thousand a year and full benefits..its just too much money for something that any grade schooler can do , count up to 2 dollars…union reps need to give a little these are tough economic times

  3. Jon says:

    I don’t care what they pay the toll takers.With gas at 4.00 and two hour commutes to work I want to get rid of the toll stations. This is not the Morris canal. I am glad to pay the toll in the highway speed easy pass lane.Lets get in the 21st century! As far as the toll takers are concerned mail them their pay and bulldoze the booths.

  4. Pat M says:

    If it is privatized the workers will make substantially more, the owner(s) and/or corporate executives will make money hand over fist and NO MONEY will be saved for people paying tolls. This will only serve to further decimate working people and enrich the wealthy, powerful and connected.

    Who wants to bet a link between legislatures and the private company/corporation will eventually be found and we will here “There was no impropriety. There was no conflict of interest.”

    1. Pat M says:

      MY BAD – THE WORKERS WILL MAKE SUBSTANTIALLY LESS. (Why would they make more as they are the ones doing the lions share of the actual work.)

  5. Ryan Sowers says:

    It doesn’t take much brainpower to collect tolls and thus the hourly wage should be very low. We can probably get by with $7.25 / hour but we need to eliminate the unions from the process. If we can do that, the savings will be huge even if we have to give up some of the revenue to a for-profit company.

    1. Pat M says:

      I am unaware of any such similar case where taxpayers saved money. $7.25 an hour is a POVERTY wage. We want to save money as a state but this idea will simply shift proceeds from the workers to the executives. It will not save the taxpayer a penny.

  6. Jim Foley says:

    These are roads that new jersey taxpayers paid for. The tolls on the Garden State Parkway were suppose to stop once the road was paid for. It became a cash cow for politicians and a place to stick their cronies once they were out of office. This is just another political trick to sell the road because they have milked it to death. Now a private vendor will take over and make more profit off the backs of New Jersey taxpayers. This makes me sick , but what would you expect in the most corupt State in the Nation next to Washington DC

  7. margaret says:

    If you have tolls go private, what will happen to the roads Chance are there would be more accidents because of negligence.. And then if tolls are privately owned, the cost to drive our highways, will most likely increase.

    Aren’t the American People suffering enough, with the high cost of gas, food, and families losing their jobs,,homes, and what little dignity they have left. There’s an old saying , “don’t kick a man ,when he’s already down on his luck”.
    It just seems the only time politicians listen to us, is when they need our vote…. then after elected, we are a forgotten voice. Well I say, it’s now time to be heard.

    All decisions made and bills pass,affect all of us, … I just hope those who are making the decisions, can sleep at night with a clear conscious, knowing what they vote on, affects thousands of people.

    So in my opinion, privatizing tolls, will do more harm then good.. At least with the State taking care of the roads, you know the funding has to be there, to maintain them,, when it’s privately own, they can go bankrupt, then what happens to the roads….

    Maybe if the States partners with a private owner, that would be better then ;sole private ownership.

  8. Micugo says:

    How many times did you have to wait in a slow line to pay the tool , only to see collector texting on his/hers phone with somebody?

    1. Pat M says:

      Never. I’ve been driving in NJ for over 25 years.

  9. a franklin says:

    It is a pain in the ass to have to stop and pay a toll. even with e-z pass, the lines are long and let’s not forget how hard the Unions fought to stop e-z pass. Toll collectors are mostly politically connected jobs given to people because they support the pork barrel system. Unions hate the Public and have weilded their clout at our expense. Why we need Toll boths multiple times on the Garden State Parkway is strictly because the Unions want them.

    1. Pat M says:

      Too broad of a brush stroke there saying “unions hate the public.” If any one group on people “hates” the public it would be the wealthiest families and corporations in New Jersey as their taxes help to support social programs that the public 98% of us benefit from….. that is if the multi-million/billion dollar corporation actually pays state taxes. Too bad the wealthiest 2% pay less % wise then the median household in our state pays.

  10. mredder4 says:

    Who’s dumb enough to believe that turning over operations to a for-profit private business is going to bring down costs?

  11. Scott says:

    ALWAYS a BAD IDEA to turn publicly OWNED roadways into PRIVATELY TOLLED ROADS. The citizens of NJ built these roads, and have maintained them- THEY SHOULD NOT BE PRIVATIZED! PERIOD! What sort of an IDIOT believes that allowing another company to benefit from our profits will actually KEEP TOLLS REASONABLE? I would far rather see the tolls removed, than put them into private hands.

  12. guy says:

    LETS GET RID OF THE 60K + YEAR TOLL TAKER JOBS WITH THERE OUTRAGEOUS BENEFITS AND THE ADMINISTRATORS THAT ARE BEING PAID WAY TO MUCH ALSO…. AND LETS GET RID OF THE MAINTENANCE WORKERS TO. THEY ARE PAID WAY TO MUCH AND ARE JUST AS MUCH TO BLAME FOR THE HIGH COSTS… COME ON THEY PUSH SNOW AND PICK UP GARBAGE have you seen the vehicles they drive in and bring home! LETS GET THE PRISONERS AND THE 100K GUARDS THAT WATCH THEM DO IT duuhhh THE WASTE IN ALL NJ GOVT IS WRONG… DON’T WORRY THERE IS KNOW WAY THIS IS GONNA LAST…. LOOK WHAT IS HAPPENING IN EGYPT IT WILL SPREAD TO THE SOILS OF THE USA IT IS JUST A MATTER OF TIME. UNFORTUNATELY

    1. mredder4 says:

      Yeah, I really hate having the garbage removed, and having the snow cleared. I hate having guards to watch over violent prisoners to keep them off the streets. A vote for a Republican is a vote for dirty, snow-covered streets overrun with violent criminals.

      1. Ryan Sowers says:

        In the current political environment, a vote for a Republican is a vote to prevent people from stealing from taxpayers. Public workers steal from taxpayers through unions.

      2. Pat M says:

        Theft by the shrinking, marginalized unions but not by the wealthiest 2% of our states people? Not by the big corporations that do not pay taxes like smaller businesses and corporations. Blissful! The best part is most people who support this rhetoric could die by the side of the road and many of the wealthiest people and corporations would not care. WAIT! That has happened already… approximately 40,000 people (US Citizens) died due to lack of health care. I wonder how many of them were “Patriotic Republican GOD Fearing Nationalistic Birther” party embers?

  13. dean says:

    why are they only outsourcing/privatizing the toll collector jobs? what about management? lets face it, that is where the bulk of the savings would come from. a toll collector earns, maybe, $60,000 a year. sure, too much for the job they are doing, but that is besides the point. i guarantee management and board members are making cushy 6 figure incomes for doing next to nothing. what a farce new jersey.

  14. Guess Who says:

    It’s time to get rid of these make-work union jobs that an be handled by machines.

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