July 07, 2021
Tolls across the Pennsylvania Turnpike are going up again in 2022, but the increase will be slightly less than what drivers have seen in recent years.
E-ZPass and Toll by Plate customers will see charges rise by 5% starting in January, the lowest toll increase in six years, the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission said Tuesday.
The average toll for a passenger vehicle next year will jump from $1.60 to $1.70 for E-ZPass holders and from $3.90 to $4.10 for Toll By Plate drivers.
The most common toll for a Class-5 tractor trailer will increase from $13 to $13.70 for E-ZPass motorists and from $26.60 to $28 for Toll by Plate users.
The toll for a passenger vehicle traveling westbound across the Delaware River Bridge, which connects Bucks County to Burlington County, N.J. will rise from $6.10 to $6.50 for E-ZPass customers and from $8.20 to $8.70 for Toll By Plate drivers.
E-ZPass and Toll by Plate rates for both passenger and commercial vehicles will round up to the next dime after the 2022 toll increase is applied. A 2022 trip calculator and toll schedule will be made available online this fall.
Non-E-ZPass drivers can get 15% off toll rates if they use the PA Toll App and set up autopay for Toll by Plate services.
The 5% toll increase is expected to continue annually through 2025 before scaling down to 4% in 2026 and 3.5% in 2027. From 2028-2050, annual toll increases are expected to drop to 3%, the PTC said.
The PTC cited rising costs from its mandatory transit operation payments to PennDOT, which have totaled $450 million annually, as the reason for the toll increases. The commission's final annual payment of $450 million will be made this month, the PTC said.
Starting next July, the PTC's transit funding requirement will be slashed to $50 million as the state's motor vehicle sales and use tax will fund the remaining $400 million. The commission's $50 million payment to the state will have to be made annually through 2057, according to the PTC.
The PTC has provided $7.45 billion in funding to PennDOT since its mandated payments began in 2007.
The commission is also required to pay down debts that have accrued from borrowing needed to fund payments. The PTC's borrowing debt currently stands at $400 million, but it’s expected to balloon to $600 million by 2038 before decreases take hold.
Pennsylvania Turnpike CEO Mark Compton said that the decline in payments "is critical if the PTC is to remain fiscally sound as an organization and for the economic vitality of Turnpike-connected communities."
"Finally, we are seeing a light at the end of this very long tunnel," Compton said. "In addition to breathing a huge sigh of relief ourselves, it enables us to begin to offer some relief to customers from those heftier toll increases and refocus on essential improvements to our roadway."
Toll by Plate drivers saw a 45% increase in tolls this year to offset the higher costs created by the system, which includes processing payments and mailing invoices. The state's Toll by Plate service captures a picture of license plates and mails an invoice to the registered driver.
E-ZPass customers experienced a 6% increase in toll rates for the 12th straight year in 2021. The Pennsylvania Turnpike has implemented annual toll increases since 2009.
Certain locations, such as the Delaware River Bridge, were exempt from these toll increases because such additional charges were already in place.
Cashless, all-electronic tolls became permanent across the Pennsylvania Turnpike last June, leading to hundreds of toll collectors and fare-collection personnel being laid off.
The layoffs were not expected to take full effect until next year, but the process was expedited by the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on toll collection revenue and traffic in 2020.