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What Does a Toll Collector Do?

A toll collector may charge for the use of a bridge.
Toll collectors commonly work in booths set up to allow access to certain roadways.
Tolls are most commonly found on highways.
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  • Written By: J. Leach
  • Edited By: Michelle Arevalo
  • Last Modified Date: 18 October 2014
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A toll collector is a person who collects the fees, or tolls, charged for the use of highways, bridges, and tunnels by vehicles. Someone who collects fares from passengers on a ferry boat is also known as a toll collector. Toll collectors are primarily responsible for collecting money and giving change to consumers. Such a person may also accept previously purchased toll or fare tickets. Toll collecting dates back to antiquity and, in the Middle Ages, it was considered a prestigious privilege if one could earn freedom from paying tolls while traveling.

A toll road can be a privately built road or a road that was built by a government. To pay for the construction and maintenance of the road, the builder collects tolls. In the U.S., a toll road is usually referred to as a turnpike. On these roads, toll collectors typically work from a toll booth that is located in what is often called a toll plaza, toll station, or toll gate.

There are two variations for how tolls can be collected. The first is a barrier toll gate, in which toll barriers are placed at varying intervals on a roadway. The main problem with the barrier method is that it has a tendency to back up traffic and cause congestion.

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Entry and exit tolls tend to be the most popular. To collect fees this way, toll booths are placed at all entry and exit points along a roadway, bridge, or tunnel. When a driver enters the roadway, he is given a ticket, sometimes by a machine, that lists what the toll will be for each exit. The further the driver travels on the road, the more he owes and, when the driver exits the road, he pays his fee to the toll collector.

Toll collection is typically done 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Toll collectors may work shifts that vary widely — from during the day to late at night. Senior employees may tend to take weekday shifts, leaving newer employees to work weekend and late night hours.

A toll collector is usually expected to take money from drivers, give back any change owed, and keep track of the balance in his money drawer throughout the day. At the end of his shift, he will have to balance this drawer by taking out the tolls he collected and leaving what was in the drawer when he started. Most often, the money he collected is either turned over to his shift manager or put into a safe.

Besides collecting money, a toll collector must also ensure that his booth is passable and free of debris. If a car breaks down in his lane, he could also be called upon to aid the driver and to help maintain traffic movement. Toll collectors often interact socially with customers they see on a daily basis.

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