Exploring this Job
Contact state and local departments of transportation as well as state highway departments to learn more about toll collector opportunities. School career services offices may have additional information on such careers or related agencies to contact about the nature of the work and the applicable job requirements. They may also be able to arrange a talk by an experienced toll collector or supervisor. Many such professionals will be more than happy to share their experiences and detail the everyday duties of those involved in the profession.
Toll collectors have two main job responsibilities: accepting and dispensing money and providing personal service and information to motorists. Primarily, toll collectors act as cashiers, collecting revenue from motorists and truck drivers who use certain roads, tunnels, bridges, or auto ferries. They accept toll and fare tickets that drivers may have previously purchased or received. They check that the drivers have given them the proper amount and return correct change when necessary.
When handling money, toll collectors begin with a change bank containing bills and coins so they can make change for motorists who lack the exact change. Toll collectors organize this money by denomination, so they are able to make change quickly and accurately, especially during rush-hour traffic. At the end of their shift, they calculate the amount of revenue received for the day by subtracting the original amount in the change bank from the total amount of money now in the till. Toll collectors also prepare cash reports, commuter ticket reports, and deposit slips that report the day's tallies. Many toll collectors become skilled at spotting counterfeit currency immediately.
In addition to their cash-handling duties, toll collectors have a wide range of administrative duties that provide service to motorists and keep the toll plaza operating at peak efficiency. Drivers may ask for directions, maps, or an estimate of the distance to the nearest rest stop or service station. Toll collectors are sometimes the only human link on a particularly long stretch of highway, so they may need to lend assistance in certain emergencies or contact police or ambulance support. They may also notify their supervisors or the highway commission concerning hazardous roads, weather conditions, or vehicles in distress.
Toll collectors also may be responsible for filling out traffic reports and inspecting the toll plaza facility to make sure that the area is free of litter and that toll gates and automatic lanes are working properly. Sometimes toll collectors handle supervisory tasks such as monitoring automatic and nonrevenue lanes, relieving fellow employees for lunch or coffee breaks, or completing violation reports. They are often in contact with state police patrols to watch for drivers who have sped through the toll gate without paying.
In many situations, commercial trucks have to pay more when they are hauling larger loads. Toll collectors are able to classify these vehicles according to their size and calculate the proper toll rates. These workers also have to be aware of and enforce the safety regulations governing their area. Tanker trucks carrying flammable cargoes, for example, are usually barred from publicly used tunnels. Toll operators are responsible for the safety of everyone on the road and must enforce all regulations impartially. Toll collectors who operate ferries may direct the vehicles that are boarding and monitor the capacity of the ferry, as well as collect fares.