By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
By Eric Nicholson
Ethics, schmethics: Starting Wednesday, the parking lot that is the Dallas North Tollway toll plaza at Wycliff Avenue might become a little less congested, which is good, because it greatly lowers the chance that Buzz will spend the rest of his life face-down in a pillow at a state penitentiary, having killed a fellow motorist. (Here's a clue for the clueless: If you purposely drive past three signs that say "right lane closed ahead" so you can jump ahead of a long line of traffic, you are, in fact, an asshole, and people hate you. Die. Die. Die. I'm talking to you, bee-yotch in the silver Lexus SUV.)
Ahem. Where were we? Ah, yes. The Tollway and ethics. See, starting this week, people who don't have tolltags—aka slow-moving Luddite scum—will not be mucking up traffic for virtuous tolltag possessors—aka people who live in the 21st century. Instead, the North Texas Tollway Authority is starting its ZipCash program, in which cash-payers won't have to stop. Their license tag numbers will be recorded by video cameras in the cash lanes, and NTTA employees will record the plate numbers and send drivers a bill for their tolls. They'll wait until drivers collect several 75-cent tolls before mailing the bills. Tolltag owners will get charged 60 cents automatically, as usual.
NTTA spokesman Randy Evans tells us that the Wycliff plaza records 75,000-80,000 transactions each day. He didn't immediately know how many of those are cash customers, but let's just say for the sake of argument that it's around one-third, or 25,000. Does the NTTA really have the time, staff and equipment to record all those license plates? Evans says yes, but we had our doubts. For instance, say you had a tolltag, but instead of using it at Wycliff you stuck it in your glove box and zipped through the cash lanes. Is it likely that you might get through for free, your license plate unrecorded, we asked? (Not that we'd ever do that, of course. Besides being unethical, it'd make us feel like a huge cheapskate. But still...)
"You will be responsible for the tolls," Evans replied.
Bravo for that answer, Mr. Evans. Notice how it ignores the question asked—Can we screw the NTTA?—and offers a textbook nonresponsive response—"Don't screw the NTTA."
Dunno about you, but Buzz is going to keep paying our tolls, just to support Evans' salary. Otherwise, next thing you know, he'll be representing the Bush administration.