2007-10-18 / Letters to the Editor

No local pass for the bridge?

In the past two editions of the Press, I have read the articles about the Newport Bridge, i.e. EZ Pass and the PR firm hired to assuage my dissonance about the bridge and turnpike authority. After reading both, my head is about to explode.

At the outset, let me be clear about my agenda. As a component of EZ Pass, there needs to be a component called Local Pass. This would entitle 'local' users unlimited use for a fixed monthly or annual fee. Or, based upon some formula of total trips during a specified period of time - a regressively pro-rated-per-trip amount that would be in a sliding scale somewhere between 30 and 50 cents.

Should be simple enough. As a part of the application process to get the little electronic thingy you need to Velcro to your windshield, if you live in certain communities that would authenticate you as a local… voila… Local Pass. Or, if you can prove you use the bridge every day for work… shazam… Local Pass.

Wilbur Smith Associates is being paid $137.50 an hour for 1,672 hours to make recommendations and provide process oversight? Nice gig! And what about any of the full time employees at the RIBTA? What do they do for the almost $2 million in payroll a year? And now we are being told that a PR firm is being hired at $175 an hour to "position the bridge as a critical component of the state's infrastructure (who cares?)… yadda yadda… responsibly operated, sensitive to the needs of the people…"

Hold on! Stop right there! Sensitive to the needs of the people? You've got to be kidding me! Just slap me and call me stupid. Try this one on for size. I need a bridge to cross that doesn't have to be a line item in my budget. How about being sensitive to that need? Or how about my need to not disproportionately support the bridge compared to other people in the state (or specifically, those who use the Mt. Hope Bridge every day). Feeling the need to maintain revenues? Raise the cash toll to $5… the most I want to pay is 50 cents - less if I have to go to the grocery and the hospital in the same day - I advocate "free" for second and all subsequent trips in a 24 hour period… and EZ Pass can make it all happen. It's a database that will track an infinite number of accounts and anything that can be conceived can be delivered. Actually, it is an extremely simple application. The fortitude and will to make it happen is all that is missing.

There is a window of opportunity here. The technology is available. Hire me for $100 an hour

discount rate due to vested interest) and I will be thrilled to tell you how to do it. I invite, implore and erstwhile challenge anyone / someone from the RDW Group to earn your $175 an hour and tell me why Local Pass is not possible and then have the $137.50 an hour people figure out a way to make it happen… or just ask me, it will only take about ten minutes… and I won't even bill the hour minimum.

Richard Spahr

Bow Street

Return to top