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January 03, 2016

Rate increase, 'cashless' tolling take effect on Pennsylvania Turnpike

Six percent 2016 increase arrives for E-ZPass and cash customers

A scheduled toll increase on the Pennsylvania Turnpike took effect Sunday morning, implementing new rates for both E-ZPass and cash customers.

Beginning Sunday, the six percent increase will raise the E-ZPass rate from $1.09 to $1.16, while cash customers will see tolls increase from $1.70 to $1.80, the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission announced. For Class-5 vehicles, including tractor trailers, the toll 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.”

The increases are also driven in part by the state's exorbitant $33 million in uncollected tolls from an estimated 1.5 million violators. Logan added that current traffic and revenue forecasts call for an annual increase of between three and six percent through 2044.

Additional revenue will be used to fund the reconstruction of state's 550-mile Turnpike system, large parts of which turned 75 years old this past October.

Officials said that E-ZPass users, who now represent more than 75 percent of Turnpike customers, will still save up to 35 percent on Pennsylvania Turnpike tolls.

The Turnpike has also officially launched its 'cashless' tolling system at the Turnpike Bridge over the Delaware River, creating a nonstop tolling point for westbound motorists crossing into New Jersey on Interstate 276. Under the new system, E-ZPass users will pay a single $5 toll and cash customers will pay $6.75 through a "Toll By Plate" mail invoice processed using a license plate photo. Commercial E-ZPass users will pay an additional $5 per axle, while cash customers will an extra $6.75 per axle.

“The new bridge toll will be collected automatically at highway speed so Turnpike travelers will not have to stop, which is safer and more convenient than stopping at a tollbooth,” said Turnpike CEO Mark Compton. “The cashless toll is a one-way toll, meaning eastbound Turnpike travelers driving into New Jersey will no longer pay at this location, though the decommissioned Delaware River Bridge toll plaza will remain in place for a time.”

Officials described the new system as a critical element in the PTC's planned $1.4 billion project to directly link the Pennsylvania Turnpike with Interstate-95.

“This is a vital project for the commission and the region and an essential first step in creating a long-awaited direct link between the Turnpike and I-95,” said Turnpike Chairman Sean Logan. “These modifications are necessary to facilitate the nonstop flow of traffic between Interstate 95 and the Turnpike when the link between the two interstates opens in late 2018."