Shitmove(r): The Penna Turnpike

What the fuck is wrong with the Pennsylvania Turnpike?

Confession: shitmove.com is attempting to be the first website to pop up when you Google this phrase.  Prior to this post, nothing shows up as an exact match for this query.  Let that no longer be the case.  Citizens everywhere will have their answer.  Go open a separate window and try it out now!

Prime shitiots: You and me, every time we travel on the good old Pennsylvania Turnpike, affectionately known as the “Penna Turnpike” or “The Old Dirt Road of Old PA.”  Air quotes were indeed called for.

Ah, the lessons of history. You're not just driving: you are contributing to the story of America. And paying for the privilege.

Final vote: An eventual unanimous verdict from our crack panel of 101 judges: 101-zip.

Ixnay on the itshay: At the opening of the debate, one dumb judge stated that she’s never been on the Pennsylvania Turnpike and therefore could not rightly rule on its shittiness.  Said judge was swiftly given a “simulation” of the turnpike experience in the parking lot.  After being force-fed a “Number 4” from Roy Rogers, having $76 lifted from her person, her shoes thrown in the nearest drainage ditch, the gas siphoned from her car and spit in her face by the plus-size driver of a domestic mini van and her ass kicked squarely several times, all while just twelve inches from a hungry wolverine who could most definitely smell the peanut butter we smashed in her hair… she ended up on the majority side of the aisle.

Shitum majorum:  Paying for a service is not shitty unless the product offered is shitty.  So is the Pennsylvania Turnpike a shitty product?  We must consider not only if our experience is awful but view this experience through a relative lens, comparing it to other roads and the cost we pay for traversing them.

Our crack panel of judges convened and did just this and have come up with…

Seven Stellar Reasons Why the Pennsylvania Turnpike Is Both Absolutely and Relatively Shitty:

1)       You are a captive audience.  Like an airport or the hotel bar, when you’re on the Turnpike, you are assumed to be a member of a “captive audience.”  Don’t take it from us: Companies that offer shitty products and/ or shitty prices for these products are clamoring for contracts with your local turnpike.  And that’s not just Roy Rogers, Cinnabon and Sunoco.  There are exclusive contracts for towing companies, the purveyors of fine toilet tissue and those who peddle in quality trash receptacles.  Why do they want in so bad?  This is nearly rhetorical: so that they can jack their prices based on limited competition.

As an example, you pay an average of 12 cents more per gallon for gas on the Turnpike.  Again, don’t take it from us.  Jump in your ’86 Buick, roll up on the Penna Turnpike and see for yourself.

2)      The Turnpike bathroom experience.  Holy shit.  You’d think if you won an exclusive contract to provide sanitary services for the Penna Turnpike, you’d put your sharpest shitter architect on the project.  Or at least provide a modicum of sanitary service.  Why then must men take a whizz four inches from other men without the benefit of a divider? Ladies, do you understand what happens in the men’s room?  One of our judges traveled over the Thanksgiving holiday and had little choice but to touch elbows with another dude while using it.  Guys don’t get that close when they’re bro-hugging let alone standing with their Ben Jones in hand.  Also, this judge reported that the other guy “shook” on his shoe.  Accident or no, this is not a standard side effect of using the loo in civil society.  We should also note that this judge attempted to take a photo of one of the stalls but his camera melted in the process.  Unacceptable.

We get it—you must cram a bunch of urinals in a small space or face an even longer fucking line.  But couldn’t you provide a divider?  Would people really get stuck?  I suppose if they continue to eat Turnpike food, that’s a real possibility.  But shit, we’d accept cardboard dividers.  Turnpike people: we have the technology….

This could take anywhere from 2 hours to 7 days to clear up.

3)      Two lanes for tens of thousands of cars.  Over 50% of the Turnpike mileage between Monroeville and Breezewood has only two lanes to manage traffic in your direction.  Occasionally, this does expand to three lanes.  You’ll know when this happens, as it will seem the traffic you’ve been mired in for 40 minutes has suddenly disappeared.  And that asshole tailgating you will treat the exit lane like the Autobahn (sans the superbly designed roads).

 4)       Construction (refer to reason #3).  Construction is a good thing, a necessary thing.  But when you only have two lanes to navigate and you subtract one of them, you oddly end up with thousands of legitimately pissed off drivers.

 5)      Accidents (refer to reasons #3 and #4).

 6)      Certain death is two to thirty-six inches away.  For some reason, the Turnpike—that road you pay more out-of-pocket for than any other road—has a problem with concrete abutments.  These dividers are supposed to keep you safe from opposing traffic and avoid the prospect of a head-on collision.  Undoubtedly, they do this.  Undoubtedly, they could provide the same function from a safer distance from your own vehicle.  At any given moment, your driver’s side mirror is within inches of a divider.  Fortunately, your top speed rarely hits more than 55 mph due to the traffic, so “certain death” may be fairly called a piece of hyperbole.  Nevertheless, you stand to lose something not insignificant if you swing your Buick into that concrete.  Your margin of error is significantly less than on most other roads.  Next time you take a curve on the Turnpike, try to see how many fools have rushed in to the side of the abutment before you by counting the bumper marks (do not despair if you don’t have enough time to count them before you join their number).

Your toll dollars hard at work for you. Just remember: it is unwise to blink or sneeze when driving on the Penna Turnpike.

 7)      Poor math.  The original bonds that made the Penna Turnpike possible have been paid off for years.  By which we mean, like, 50 years.  A conservative average yearly estimate of funds collected on the Penna Turnpike is $80,300,000 in tolls alone.  The math would bore you, but look up the average daily traffic and costs… yadda yadda yadda.  This is a conservative year of earnings for the Turnpike.

So where does this money go?  It pays for the maintenance of the road, right?  Actually, a good 20% of it ($16,060,000) goes to pay for the cost of collecting your toll.  Tell me what you think of the following proposition: you give me one dollar in order that I can collect an additional four from you.  That is, you’re paying not for the infrastructure of the road itself but for the toll booths, the gates, the EZPass signs, etc as well as the toll booth workers.  Here we go, whackos: shitmove.com is starting to attack the job creators at the Pennsylvania Turnpike.  Alright.  Let’s just drop that one and assume this burden is well worth it for all the other benefits we reap.

So yeah—what about the other 80%?  Maintenance of the Turnpike roads, right?  Well, the wheels fall off here (see: http://www.paturnpike.com/toll/toll_faq.aspx).

 It appears the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission (PTC) also has a daddy—the Pennsylavania Department of Transportation (PennDOT). And what a demanding daddy it is: payments in the amount of $450 million annually must be coughed up from the PTC to PennDOT from now through at least 2057 in order that it may be reallocated to other infrastructure needs as PennDOT sees fit.  So when you travel on Penna Turnpike, you’re not just paying for the pleasure of getting “shaken” on to a soundtrack of hell farts after eating a tray of overpriced garbage, you’re also paying for other amenities in the great state of Pennsylvania. And this answers the unasked question: Why pick on just the Pennsylvania Turnpike?  Wherefore New Jersey?  Ohio?  These other states will get theirs in due time.  For now, suffice to say that Pennsylvania actually has you paying for other shit in their brilliant and beautiful state.

Which makes us want to take aim at good old PA’s liquor laws (said the grumpy judge who wanted to get his drink on without notice at 10am on a Sunday morning)…

Now, when we discuss the shittiness of the Pennsylvania Turnpike, we do so through a consumer lens.  The question here is “Does our toll payment yield us any benefit on the Turnpike?”  We’re looking simply at the consumer experience, much as we would at Best Buy or Home Depot after wandering their aisles.

For the seven above reasons and many more that would make this post too long for you to want to read, including indecencies in the Ladies’ Room, the answer is a resounding “Nope!”

What if every road was like the Pennsylvania Turnpike?  Roy Rogers would go to jail as a sex offender after sporting a boner so large that the little kids standing in line would use it as a diving board to jump into a pool of Pumpkin Spice Shakes.  Sunoco would be the first corporation to become President of the United States (which follows logically from the fact that corporations have the same legal rights as individuals).  Oh and…uh… fares?  They’d have to go up.  To have that quality of road across the entire nation?  That’s… gonna cost ya.

You will also pay for the pivilege of paying more for gas and waiting in line at 9pm on a Tuesday. Great deals to be had all around!

How to stop this shitmove in its tracks: Take alternate routes.  Interstate 68 runs a slightly southern parallel to the Turnpike and boasts 3-4 lanes for most of the ride.  And while you may not escape the domestic mini vans or the tailgating shitiots of the world, at least you won’t have to pay more for the pleasure.  See, they have this concept on Interstate 68 that the taxes collected from citizens in the relevant states can cover the cost of maintaining the road at or above reasonable expectation.  And it works.  Also, they’re high-class down on 68: they’ve got McDonaldses and there’s a rumor that a Cracker Barrel is on its way (don’t get carried away, it’s just a rumor).  Give it a shot.

Shitometer rank: Somehow this one slipped into the thousandth percentile.

Future shit: Tune in next week when we deliberate the attendant social ills of owning feral pets.

In the meantime, you can join us on our new Facebook page by clicking the above “like” button (they were out of “Fucking Love This” buttons), follow us on Twitter @shitmoves, submit your shit (criticisms included) to shitmoves@gmail.com, and sign up to get your shit sent straight to your inbox (top right of this page).  So many ways to wade in it!

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