Turnpike Commission approves toll increase for 11th consecutive year

December 2018/January 2019

Tyson Fisher

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For the 11th consecutive year, Pennsylvania motorists will be asked to pay more in tolls on the Pennsylvania Turnpike. The Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission’s 6 percent toll increase will go into effect Jan. 6.

According to a news release, the 6 percent increase will apply to both E-ZPass and cash customers. The increase also will apply to all turnpike sections and extensions, including the westbound Delaware River Bridge cashless tolling point in Bucks County.

The Turnpike Commission mentions that the most common toll for a Class 5 tractor-trailer will increase from $3.45 to $3.66 for E-ZPass customers and from $15.35 to $16.30 for cash customers. Regarding the large difference between E-ZPass and cash customers, the commission notes that Class 5 E-ZPass customers typically take shorter trips than Class 5 truckers who pay cash or through the toll-by-plate system.

Last year, the commission raised tolls by 6 percent as well.

A 2007 law, Act 44, required the PTC to pitch in $450 million annually to the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation for mass transit and other PennDOT projects. Money from the commission to PennDOT does not have to be used for turnpike-related projects.

In 2013, Act 89 decreased the commission’s obligation to

$50 million a year starting in 2023. Annual toll increases ranging from

3 percent to 6 percent are necessary to keep up with debts and obligations, PTC Chairman Sean Logan said in a statement last year. Increases will continue through 2044, and payments totaling $5 billion will be made through 2057.

The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association and the National Motorists Association have filed a lawsuit against the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission regarding the tolls. In a lawsuit filed March 15, OOIDA challenged the constitutionality of the imposition of excessive tolls by the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission. OOIDA claims that tolls, or “user fees,” become an undue burden on commerce once the amount is greater than a fair approximation of the value of the use of the toll road.

On June 13, OOIDA and NMA filed the motion for class certification in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania. The lawsuit names members of each association along with two trucking companies and two private motorists as plaintiffs. The motion asks to certify a class defined as “All persons or entities who paid a toll to the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission after the Commission raised its toll rates following the enactment of Pennsylvania Acts 44 and 89.”

According to court documents. OOIDA and NMA estimate the number of class members to exceed 100,000. Because of the large number of plaintiffs and the commonality of individual cases, OOIDA and NMA argue that all the requirements are met for class action status. LL

Tyson Fisher

Tyson Fisher joined Land Line Magazine in March 2014. An award-winning journalist and tireless researcher, his news reports, features and blogs bring depth to our editorial content, backed with solid detail. Tyson is a lifelong Kansas Citian.