January 02, 2021
Drivers heading to the Pennsylvania Turnpike should be prepared for sharp increases in tolls that are set to go into effect at midnight Sunday, January 3.
Those utilizing the "Toll by Plate" service, which captures a picture of the license plate and sends an invoice to the registered driver, will see rates increase by 45%. Those with an E-ZPass 6% increase in toll rates, according to a press release.
The Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission approved the change in July of last year to offset the higher costs created by the "Toll by Plate" system, including mailing the invoice and collecting payment.
E-ZPass customers' toll will increase from $1.50 to $1.60 and toll by plate customers will see an increase from $2.50 to $3.90 in rates. A Class-5 tractor trailer without an E-ZPass will increase from $17.30 to $26.60, though those with an E-ZPass will see increases from $12.20 to $13.
"This balanced approach allows us to maintain a lower rate for those choosing a payment method that is less costly to administer, while those who choose a pricier payment option absorb those costs," PTC CEO Mark Compton said.
The PTC halted all cash and credit card payments last March at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic to limit the spread. In June, it agreed to permanently end cash toll collections and 500 toll workers were laid off.
Certain locations are exempt from these increases. such as the Delaware River Bridge, because increases were already in place.
The PTC said drivers can get 15% off rates if they use its tolling smartphone app and set up autopay for "Toll by Plate" services. The app, "PA Toll Pay" will update to include this feature on Sunday.
"Given the significantly higher rates now associated with the 'Toll by Plate' option, we wanted to offer an alternative that would provide a measure of relief for travelers," Compton said.
Aside from the increased costs of "Toll by Plate" services, the commission said its mandated payments to the state Department of Transportation — which total $450 million annually — are another reason for the increases.
Most grocery store chains offer E-ZPass GoPaks, as well as all 17 Turnpike service plazas and state AAA offices.
"Currently, 86 percent of our customers have chosen E-ZPass, with more switching every day. Now that hundreds of grocery stores in the Commonwealth offer E-ZPass, chances are you pass by at least one of them," Compton said.