Tolls Increase Sunday on the Pennsylvania Turnpike

The Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission (PTC) reminds customers that a 6 percent toll increase for E-ZPass and cash customers will take effect at 12:01 a.m. on Jan. 3, 2016. While the increase impacts cash and E-ZPass rates equally, E-ZPass customers will still save as much as 35 percent on PA Turnpike tolls.

With the new rates, the most common toll for a Class-1 (passenger) vehicle will increase from $1.09 to $1.16 for E-ZPass customers and from $1.70 to $1.80 for cash customers. The most common toll for a Class-5 vehicle — a prevalent tractor-trailer class — will increase from $9.05 to $9.59 for E-ZPass customers and from $12.80 to $13.60 for cash customers.

“The 2016 toll increase — like other annual rate hikes since 2009 — is needed, in part, to repay the substantial borrowing required to meet the PTC’s financial obligations under state laws signed in 2007 and 2013,” said PTC Chairman Sean Logan of Monroeville. “Act 44 of 2007 requires the PTC to make annual payments of $450 million to PennDOT used mostly for statewide mass-transit operations; under this law, the PTC has transferred nearly $5 billion to date to PennDOT for off-Turnpike use.”

Due to Act 89 of 2013, these payments are to be reduced in 2022 from $450 million a year to $50 million a year. But since Act 89 does not ease the associated debt or eliminate the funding requirement — which will continue through 2057 — the Commission is obligated to increase tolls annually for the foreseeable future.

“Current Turnpike traffic and revenue forecasts call for annual increases of 3 to 6 percent through 2044,” Logan said.

In addition to providing supplemental off-Turnpike aid, recent toll increases are also funding the reconstruction and widening of the 550-mile Pennsylvania Turnpike system, parts of which turned 75 years old on Oct. 1.

“The PTC launched a vigorous plan to rebuild and expand the Turnpike, investing more than $600 million a year in improvements,” Logan said. “About 450 miles of the Turnpike must be rebuilt from the ground up and widened from four lanes to six; thus far, the commission has reconstructed more than 117 miles — leaving 333 miles yet to be rebuilt.”

The PTC has continued to focus on various cost-saving measures to mitigate yearly increases. For instance, it implemented a commission-wide strategic plan with renewed focus on containing operating-expense growth; it has held operating costs to an average growth rate of less than 4 percent for the last five fiscal years; and it has reduced total headcount by 7 percent in the last decade — and by 17 percent in the fare-collection department in the same timeframe as a result of increased E-ZPass usage.

Today, most Turnpike customers — more than 75 percent — choose to pay with E-ZPass. E-ZPass has been available on the Pennsylvania Turnpike for more than 15 years. The PTC manages 1.7 million active E-ZPass accounts, with nearly 2.4 million transponders in circulation.

One E-ZPass transponder can be moved from vehicle to vehicle using the provided mounting strips. Just remember to register the license-plate number and other information for any vehicles to be used under that E-ZPass account.

A Pennsylvania Turnpike E-ZPass can be used on any toll facility where the purple-and-white E-ZPass logo is shown. Nationally, there are more than 28 million E-ZPass tags in circulation among 27 toll agencies across 16 states, making E-ZPass the world’s largest interoperable tolling system.

Turnpike travelers can get E-ZPass at www.paturnpike.com or by calling 1-877-PENN-PASS (1-877-736-6727). Customers can also buy an E-ZPass “GoPak” at nearly 500 Pennsylvania retailers, including most AAA offices and at most stores in these chains: Acme, Giant Eagle and GetGo, GIANT Food Stores, Karns Quality Foods, Kuhn's Markets, MARTIN'S Food Markets, Walmart, Wegmans in central and eastern PA and Sunoco A-Plus stores inside PA Turnpike service plazas. The E-ZPass GoPak includes a transponder that can be used immediately.

It costs $38 to set up an E-ZPass account with a credit or debit card if choosing the auto-replenishment option; the cost includes a $35 pre-paid toll balance plus a $3 annual service fee. In addition, E-ZPass retailers charge a one-time convenience fee (there is no such fee to join online or by phone). To find an E-ZPass retail location nearby, visithttps://www.paturnpike.com/toll/sales.aspx.

To check both 2015 and 2016 toll rates for all classes of vehicles, please visit the online toll calculator at https://www.paturnpike.com/toll/tollmileage.aspx

Information posted from PA Turnpike Press Release
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