A Bridge So Scary People Pay $25 For Crossing Help
Some people must have more money than they know what to do with. Attesting to the gripping reality of acrophobia to some, almost 6,000 drivers pay Kent Island Express $25 each way for help crossing Maryland’s William Preston Lane, Jr. Memorial Bridge, more commonly known as the Bay Bridge. That’s $50 each round trip. It’s hard to imagine people could be scared enough to cough up that much dough just to have a driver escort them across a bridge. But, of course, the Bay Bridge is no ordinary crossing.
Rated the ninth-scariest bridge in the world by Travel and Leisure, the five-mile-long bridge crosses the Chesapeake Bay to connect Maryland’s eastern and western shores. Reaching 186 feet at its highest point, the bridge is often subject to violent storms making it nearly impossible to see land from its mid-point.
Kent Island Express owner Alex Robinson and his family saw a potential need emerge from the hundreds of terrified drivers who cross the bridge, some commuting every day. His mother and stepfather founded the service six years ago, and Robinson has since seen his fair share of phobics. In an interview with the New York Times, he described burly construction workers who pulled their hats over their eyes and plugged their ears while crossing the bridge. One woman rode in the back with a blanket over her head, and once a man asked to cross in the trunk of his car. To help calm travelers’ fears, Robinson hires only upbeat drivers and instructs them to talk about anything but the bridge during the 10 to 15 minutes it takes to drive across the Bay Bridge.
As Memorial Day has now come and gone, Kent Island Express is now in its busy season, shuttling travelers on their way to Maryland’s beach towns and sailing harbors. The company’s Web site asks drivers to contact it an hour before they reach the bridge so a meeting location can be coordinated. But business doesn’t only boom during tourist season. One particular customer has paid $50 a day for years to be driven across the Bay Bridge to and from work. For that money you’d think he could pay a shrink to help him overcome his fears. Some people just have more money than they know what to do with.