Cashless Ipswich

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Great news, Ipswich. Our money troubles are over.

Let me explain.

Have you driven into Boston lately? It’s a whole new world. Forget about stopping to pay a toll on the Tobin Bridge, crossing the Mystic River on 1A into the city. The Bridge is alive, apparently. And it has an accounting degree! It will calculate what you owe — and bill you!

If you’ve equipped your vehicle with an EZ-Pass transponder, you pay $2.50 —electronically, automatically — to get into Boston on the Tobin. (To get your transponder, Google “MassDot” and you’ll probably see an EZ-Pass link. Or use the “Highway” tab at the MassDot website.)

On the other hand, if you don’t have a transponder stuck to the windshield behind your rearview mirror, you pay $3. How? Here’s how. The bridge’s cameras take a photo of your license plate as you wheel through, then they mail you a bill. If you don’t pay, something bad happens. I don’t think it’s actually SWAT teams in Registry of Motor Vehicles jumpsuits converging on you with AK-47s, but it’s bad. Don’t do it. Pay your bill.

So the technology for cashless collections is totally available. Here in Ipswich, it can change everything for us. I suggest we offer a transponder designed to look like a clam, and it would sit like a bobble-head doll on your dashboard. (When you drive beyond New England on vacation, people in parking lots walking in front of your car will say, “How cute.”)

At key points all over Ipswich, your Dash-Clam™ will auto-collect fees. Its work will be silent, instantaneous, and painfully apt.

For example: No more pleading with voters for school money: As you drive through a school zone, if you voted “yes,” you sail through free of charge. If you voted “no,” you get a bill for $500.

Ipswich drivers will be charged the price of an ice cream cone as they pass White Farms heading toward Rowley — because we know, if you don’t stop at White Farms, you’re heading to Down River.

Drivers leaving the downtown area via Lord’s Square have to pay $250 if they stop at High Street. (The first government employee to erect a “DO NOT STOP / KEEP GOING / NO STOP HERE” sign at that intersection gets a night out on the town with the Outsidah, all expenses paid.)

The Town will collect a total of $10,000 a day from drivers who, when the light turns green, make a left turn against oncoming traffic. If you’re the only one who commits this grievous violation of the right-of-way, you pay the whole $10,000 for the day. If you’re one of two, you each pay $5,000. But on a typical day in Ipswich, you can count on getting a bill for something in the neighborhood of five bucks.

And finally, if you go past my house at 45 mph, even though the posted speed limit has been 25 mph for nearly a mile, your Dash-Clam sends you a bill for $1.2 million.

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