The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

Local News

July 29, 2013

Turnpike tolls to rise for sixth time since ’09

HARRISBURG — Tolls on the Pennsylvania Turnpike are going up again next year, and cash customers will foot most of the bill.

The turnpike commission on Monday announced increases of 12 percent for cash-paying motorists and 2 percent for those who use the electronic E-ZPass system.

The January 2014 toll boost will be the sixth annual increase since the turnpike began transferring $450 million a year to the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation in 2009 to help finance work on other state roads and bridges.

Many legislators hoped to substantially reduce those transfers as a part of a comprehensive transportation funding plan, but negotiations collapsed and the transportation legislation was left dangling as lawmakers left for their summer break.

The turnpike payments are a holdover from a 2007 law that dedicated billions of dollars to the state’s roadwork and bridge repair needs and authorized the turnpike commission to collect tolls on Interstate 80. Federal regulators rejected the I-80 tolls, but the law continues to require the commission to make the annual transfers to PennDOT through 2057.

Commission CEO Mark Compton said action by the Legislature to reduce the transfers could hold down future toll increases.

“We understand that these recurrent annual increases can create an economic hardship” for some motorists, he said.

The average toll for a passenger car on the main section of the turnpike is currently $4.49 for a cash customer and $2.92 for an E-ZPass subscriber, the commission said. More than 70 percent of turnpike users pay with E-ZPass, it said.

Turnpike officials say E-ZPass users are charged less because the electronic tolls are cheaper and faster than paying a turnpike employee to collect cash payments.

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