Tollway vs Freeway: Difference and Comparison

While travelling by road, we come across several types of roads, such as highways, earthen roads, Gravel roads, and local roads. Some highways we come across charge tolls.

The toll charged on some roads is meant for the maintenance of the streets and also for building new roads. To maintain the safety of the road, a certain amount is to be paid for the stops constructed at a certain distance on a particular highway.

Such places are called toll stops or toll plazas. Thus, two types of roads based on whether a toll is charged while travelling by them are 1. Tollway 2. Freeway

Key Takeaways

  1. Access and Control – Tollways are highways where motorists must pay a fee, while freeways are free to all drivers without charge.
  2. Location and Purpose – Tollways are built to generate revenue for road maintenance and improvement, while freeways are built for faster travel between destinations.
  3. Design and Construction – Tollways are designed with multiple entry and exit points, while freeways have limited access points to prevent congestion.

Tollway vs Freeway

A tollway is a road that charges users a fee to use. It is a form of road pricing applied to help recoup the costs of road construction. While a freeway is a route where traffic is restricted from entering the road. Ramps are the only means for motorists to enter a controlled-access roadway.

Tollway vs Freeway

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To sustain the well-being of the road, travellers must pay a certain amount depending on the modes of transport they are using. In some countries, the toll levied on the travellers varies on the ways of transportation they use while travelling.

A freeway, also known as a controlled-access highway, motorway, expressway, or through way, does not charge any taxes to the travellers while travelling. It is mainly constructed for less traffic travelling and transportation.

Comparison Table

Parameters of ComparisonTollwayFreeway
DefinitionA road used for transportation or travelling where a specific toll is levied for the welfare and construction of the road is called a tollway A road that is used for travelling or transportation but primarily for the transportation of commercial vehicles but where a toll is not charged is called a freeway
Also known asturnpike, toll highway, toll road, express toll routea controlled-access highway, motorway, expressway
First built on/inThe 1830s21 September 1924
PurposeTo levy tolls for the maintenance of roadsFor faster and quicker travelling using different lanes built through it
ExamplesSydney Harbour Bridge, Sydney Harbour Tunnel, M1 Eastern Distributor, Liefkenshoek Tunnel, Coquihalla Highway, A. Murray MacKay Bridge, Angus L. Macdonald Bridge, Ambassador Bridge, Ontario Highway 407, Mumbai Pune ExpresswayWabash freeway, Escondido freeway, Temecula Valley freeway, Arroyo Seco Parkway, John J. Montgomery Freeway, San Diego Freeway, Santa Ana Freeway, Golden State Freeway, Ocean Beach Freeway, Mission Valley Freeway, Kumeyaay Highway

What is Tollway?

A road meant for travelling and transporting passengers and goods, where a certain amount of toll is levied for the betterment of the road, is called a tollway. The toll collection stops are also called toll stops, toll plazas, toll stations, toll bars, toll booths, toll houses, toll gates etc.

Nowadays, automatic toll machines are introduced for less manual labour in some parts of the world. The toll levied differs from the modes of transportation used by the passengers.

Examples of tollways are Mumbai Vadodara Expressway, Delhi Gurgaon Expressway, Sion Panvel Expressway, Mumbai Nashik Expressway, Ganga Expressway, Casablanca–Marrakesh, Sheikh Zayed Road, Severn Bridge, Indiana Toll Road.

Before automated toll payment or electronic toll payment, in the days when toll collection had just begun, the toll was charged to the passengers who used mountain passes or other places for travelling purposes.

In the early 7th century, the travellers who used the Susa-Babylon highway were also charged with a toll. In the Middle Ages, travellers who travelled by Via Regia and Via Imperii highways in Europe were offered protection whilst their travelling experience in exchange for the toll they paid.

Many European roads were constructed by the toll collected in the 19th century to build a potential transport link. For instance, the A5 route between England and Ireland had a toll plaza for toll collection. It created a more vital transport link and maintained the A5 highway.

The increased and developed technological inventions changed the traditional method of handing tolls physically to the toll collector. The electronic and automated system for toll collection was introduced in several parts of the world.

People find paying tolls unnecessary and are prone to criticise the entire system. There are several critical interpretations by people about the toll collection system. Some people interpret it as a waste of time or claim that toll collection is a form of regressive taxation.


What is Freeway?

A freeway is a road used for travelling or transportation but primarily for commercial transportation but where a toll is not charged. A freeway is a less traffic road, and most commercial transport occurs there.

Examples of freeways are Santa Monica Freeway, San Bernardino Freeway, Ontario Freeway, Mojave Freeway, Barstow Freeway, Hollywood Freeway, Santa Ana Freeway, Ventura Freeway, John J. Montgomery Freeway, Antelope Valley Freeway, South Bay Freeway, San Vicente Freeway, Ted Williams Freeway, Martin Luther King Jr. Freeway.

Many countries follow the Vienna convention, and according to the convention, only vehicles can use freeways and pedestrians, and parking vehicles are strictly prohibited.

The foundation of freeways evolved in the first half of the 20th century, but the first open freeway road was available for people on 21 September 1924 in Italy, A8-A9, between Milan and Varese. The rapid growth of the usage of vehicles led to the creation of freeways in the 1920s.

They created a hassle-free and faster travelling experience, so they were also called “dual highways”. A race track, now known as a freeway in Berlin, is the oldest freeway in the world.

Freeways are the safest roads to travel by, and the safety rate of freeways is much higher than many other roadsThe death rate in different countries has lessened due to the usage done by people.

  1. Freeways ought to give a better experience to travellers rather than tollways because of the toll-free system used by freeways.
  2. Freeways are considered safer roads than tollways.
  3. The toll collection system of tollways has been used since 2700 years ago. On the other hand, the ideology of freeways was brought into practice in the 1920s.
  4. Primarily commercial transport is done by freeways, but on the other hand, local transportation of passengers is mainly done by tollways.
  5. Less traffic is seen on Freeways as compared to tollways.
Difference Between Tollway and Freeway

Last Updated : 11 June, 2023

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