Drivers along the Pennsylvania Turnpike should plan to dig deeper in their pockets as of this weekend, especially those not using an E-ZPass.
A 6% toll increase, approved by the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission in July, begins Sunday and applies to E-ZPass and “Toll By Plate” users, a cashless system where drivers are charged later after scanning license plates with cameras. In addition, those using “Toll By Plate” will see a further 45% hike to “absorb” the cashless tolling system’s higher costs.
Six toll locations, including the Delaware River Bridge in the Philadelphia region, will be exempt from the steep 45% jump because increases were already in place. Those tolls served as pilots for the cashless system.
A typical E-ZPass passenger driver should expect to pay $1.60, a 10 cent increase, while those who choose “Toll By Plate” will pay $3.90, a steep $1.40 increase.
An update to the turnpike’s smartphone app on Sunday will allow drivers to create an autopay account that would save them 15% on monthly “Toll By Plate” payments to “provide a measure of relief” to drivers “given the significantly higher rates,” Turnpike CEO Mark Compton said. About 86% of drivers use E-ZPass, according to the turnpike.
The turnpike points to its mandated payments to the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation as its reason for toll increases. The turnpike sends $450 million annually to PennDot to help pay for public transportation. Of that, SEPTA receives about $178 million annually.
The turnpike had planned to go cashless in 2021 but blindsided workers by laying off 500 toll collectors and fare-collection personnel this summer. The agency cited fewer drivers and lessened revenue due to COVID, as well as virus health concerns, as reasons to push forward the layoffs.