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June 02, 2020

Cashless tolls to become permanent on Pennsylvania Turnpike as hundreds of workers are laid off

Toll revenues are down $100 million for the fiscal year that ended on Sunday

Transportation Pennsylvania Turnpike
Pennsylvania Turnpike tolls THEFXEXPERT/WIKIPEDIA COMMONS

Cashless, electronic tolls are here to stay on the Pennsylvania Turnpike, resulting in hundreds of workers being let go.

The Pennsylvania Turnpike will be permanently doing away with cash toll collections, resulting in approximately 500 toll collectors and fare-collection personnel being laid off, the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission said Tuesday. 

The cashless, electronic toll system becoming permanent on the Pennsylvania Turnpike will help protect the health and safety of both drivers and employees, PTC CEO Mark Compton said. He said that drivers are now accustomed to going through a toll at the posted speed limit without stopping, and that reversing course could lead to accidents and injuries.

Additionally, if a collector were to test positive for COVID-19, the entire toll would have to be shut down, he said.

“Ceasing cash collections in March to protect employees and customers was the right decision,” Compton said. “But we did not know then how severe the impact would be; with the associated dangers, we cannot risk returning to cash collections."

Tolls will be assessed via E-ZPass or an invoice will be mailed via the Turnpike’s Toll by Plate program.

The layoffs were not expected to take place until early 2022, but the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on toll collection revenue and traffic along the Pennsylvania Turnpike hastened that decision. 

Traffic has dropped by 50% since March compared to the same time frame in 2019, and toll revenues are down $100 million for the fiscal year that concluded on May 31.

“I deeply regret that we have reached this point, but the world has been irrevocably changed by the global pandemic,” Compton said. “This pandemic had a much greater impact than anyone could have foreseen. The PA Turnpike has not been spared from COVID-19.”

Those who are being laid off were notified earlier on Tuesday, and the process will begin this week and continue through June.

“This is a painful day for all of us at the Commission,” said Compton. “I want to thank these men and women for their dedication and hard work over the years; I assure them we will continue to assist them during this transition.”

The Pennsylvania Turnpike halted cash and credit card payments in March at the height of the COVID-19 outbreak to mitigate the spread of coronavirus.


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