Motorists using the Pennsylvania Turnpike will pay more in tolls starting Jan. 5, marking the 12th straight year the Turnpike Commission has raised prices to help it cover state-mandated payments to PennDot.
The Turnpike Commission said tolls are going up 6% next year, but they’re actually increasing more because the commission rounds up to the nearest dime after the 6% hike is factored.
For example, the commission said the most common toll for a passenger vehicle will increase from $1.40 to $1.50 for customers whose payments are electronically debited from their E-ZPass accounts, a 7.1% increase, and from $2.30 to $2.50 for cash-paying customers, an 8.7% increase.
The Turnpike Commission has increased tolls each year since 2009 to maintain its aging roads while also satisfying two state laws requiring it to make annual payments to PennDot, with much of the money supporting mass transit across the state.
The commission has made $6.6 billion in toll-backed payments to PennDot over the last dozen years, according to turnpike CEO Mark Compton. The commission approved the 2020 increase in July and has said it expects to raise tolls every year until 2044.
The increase, which takes effect at 12:01 a.m. Jan. 5, applies to E-ZPass and cash customers on sections of the turnpike excluding three stretches in Western Pennsylvania: the Beaver Valley Expressway, the Gateway tolling point near the Ohio line, and Toll Route 66 in Westmoreland County. Increases along the latter took effect in October.
Turnpike spokesperson Carl Defebo said the toll hike should motivate motorists who haven’t already signed up for E-ZPass to do so.
“Even if you just take a short trip, you’re saving one dollar every time you get on the turnpike with E-ZPass,” he said, citing the difference in cost for a short trip, such as between Allegheny Valley and Pittsburgh.
Besides tolls, the only cost for E-ZPass is a $3 annual administration fee. There is no charge for the device, Defebo said.
“For $3, you can probably save that in a couple days,” he said. “More people should be getting E-ZPass. It’s not just for frequent travelers. You can use the turnpike a couple times a month or a couple times a year and benefit from those savings.”
A 2020 trip calculator and toll schedule are available online at paturnpike.com/toll/tollmileage.aspx.