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What Is a Toll Booth?

Attendants take money from drivers at toll booths.
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  • Written By: Lori Kilchermann
  • Edited By: Jacob Harkins
  • Last Modified Date: 14 April 2014
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    Conjecture Corporation
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A toll booth is a small structure on some highways and bridges used to collect fees to drive over it. This is called a toll road or bridge. There are typically a number of toll booth structures located at every toll stop, with a person or money-collecting machine manning each one.

Most toll roads utilize a number of toll booth structures at each toll stop in order to maximize the flow of traffic. There are often self-pay lanes for users with exact fare typically collected in coin type currency. These booths are unmanned and when the proper amount of money has been received, a gate is opened allowing the vehicle to pass through. The manned toll booth houses a worker who accepts the toll and can provide change and a receipt if needed. Some toll roads or bridges employ rapid scanning technology that allows an automobile with a sensor to pass through without stopping. This driver either prepays an amount for toll use or pays later. Other toll booths use license plate scanners that send a bill for the fee to the automobile's registered owner.

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In the United States, many toll roads are state owned. Therefore, these tollway workers are state employees. The same is true with toll bridges. These workers typically arrive at a particular site and are then transported to the toll booth by a bus or van. This eliminates the workers' vehicles having to be parked at the toll site and causing congestion. The workers are picked up and transported back to their vehicles at the end of their work shift.

The toll way or toll bridge is intended to be self-supporting. The monies collected are used to maintain the roadway or bridge, offset the initial cost of the project as well as to pay the tollway employees. Most tollway projects have a theoretical time limit of how long a toll will be collected until enough money has been generated to pay for the project. In most instances, however, the end never comes and the tollway continues to collect the toll by extending the time limit.

The toll booth is small and offers just enough room for the worker to complete the task at hand. Most come equipped with a small heater and a seat and nothing more in the way of creature comforts. While some units have sliding windows to help keep out the cold, the typical booth has no sliding window due to the frequency of the worker taking tolls from passing vehicles.

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