Motorists on the Pennsylvania Turnpike will have to pay a little bit more to use the highway, according to a press release by the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission (PTC).
The new rates take effect at 12:01 a.m. this Sunday. With the increase, E-ZPass customers who now see about a 25-percent savings on tolls will save at least 35 percent compared to cash, according to the PTC.
The PTC says that tolls are increased each year to support ground-transportation needs and enhance traveler safety across the state. The generated revenues are necessary to:
- continue to effectively and efficiently maintain and operate the 550-mile Pennsylvania Turnpike system;
- remain focused on efforts to expand, modernize and widen the Pennsylvania Turnpike, parts of which are nearly 75 years old; and
- supply needed funding to the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) for investment in off-turnpike road and bridge improvements as well as in public transit.
But, starting in fiscal year 2023, the payments drop to $50 million per year until the Act 44 agreement ends in 2057.
“We’re grateful to the general assembly and Governor Corbett for the long-term financial relief the PTC saw under Act 89,” said Turnpike CEO Mark Compton. “However, it does not erase our debt or end our current Act-44 funding obligation. As a result, the PTC will need to continue to increase tolls annually for the foreseeable future.”
The toll increase is also essential to fund the Turnpike’s own capital plan, focused largely on total reconstruction and widening projects in which the highway is completely rebuilt from the ground up and expanded from four to six lanes. So far the commission has rebuilt more than 100 miles of its system at an average cost of roughly $20 million per mile.
The Turnpike Commission hopes to increase E-ZPass enrollment because it’s less costly to process an electronic transaction compared to a cash transaction. The PTC began offering lower rates to E-ZPass users starting in January 2011. Today, more than 70 percent of all Pennsylvania Turnpike travelers use E-ZPass.
Many customers get E-ZPass online at www.paturnpike.com or by calling 1-877-PENN-PASS (1-877-736-6727). Customers can also buy an E-ZPass GoPak at more than 300 retailers across the state, including most AAA offices and at certain stores in these chains: Acme, Giant Eagle and GetGo, Karns, Walmart, Wegmans and coming soon to the Sunoco A-Plus convenience stores at all Pennsylvania Turnpike service plazas. The E-ZPass GoPak allows travelers to obtain a transponder that is already activated and can be used immediately.
It costs $38 to purchase an E-ZPass if using a credit or debit card to set up an auto-replenishment account; the cost includes a $35 toll balance plus the $3 annual fee. In addition, E-ZPass retailers charge a one-time convenience fee (there is no convenience fee for those who join online or by phone). For a comprehensive list of E-ZPass retail locations, visit www.paturnpike.com/ezpass.
A Pennsylvania Turnpike E-ZPass can be used on any toll facility where the purple-and-white logo is shown. Presently, there are 25 E-ZPass agencies in 15 states, largely in the Northeastern U.S., and more than 24 million E-ZPass transponders in use on toll roads, bridges and tunnels nationwide.