State House Sound Bites

Capitol reporter Mary Wilson covers Pennsylvania politics and issues at the Pennsylvania state capitol.

Turnpike tolls jumping by 2 percent - for cash lanes, 10 percent

Written by Mary Wilson, Capitol Bureau Chief | Jan 3, 2013 3:14 PM
Turnpike.jpg

Photo by PA Turnpike website

For the third consecutive year, the annual Pennsylvania Turnpike toll hikes are higher for cash-paying customers.

Starting Sunday, motorists handing money to toll takers will pay about ten percent more to use the Turnpike. The rates for drivers with E-ZPass are going up by only two percent.

The Turnpike is in the process of converting to all-electronic tolling, and Bill Capone, spokesman for the PA Turnpike Commission, said the reason for the disparity is research showing that’s what it takes to spur more customers to use E-ZPass.

“A lot of the people who had been reluctant to get E-ZPass for one reason or another indicated that if the differential got to be around that [a 20 to 25 percent higher toll increase], they would seriously consider enrolling,” said Capone.

The good news for drivers who have clung to cash until now is E-ZPass transponders just got cheaper. The annual service fee went down from six dollars to three dollars last month, due to a reduced price on the contract with the supplier of the devices.

The two percent toll increase for E-ZPass customers is in keeping with hikes of the past five years.

“When you calculate it, it’s overall about a three percent annual increase, when you average it out,” said Capone. That doesn’t include the first of the annual toll increases in 2009, when rates went up by 25 percent.

The annually scheduled increases are due in part to state law requiring the roadway to pay $450 million annually to PennDOT.

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