Pennsylvania bill would reinstate turnpike fare collectors

November 17, 2021

Keith Goble

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A renewed pursuit at the Pennsylvania statehouse is intended to lessen revenue loss on the Pennsylvania Turnpike.

In March 2020, Gov. Tom Wolf furloughed turnpike employees because of coronavirus concerns. In place of fare collectors, the turnpike switched over to cashless toll collection.

Less than three months after the furlough, the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission voted to permanently eliminate 492 positions. Most of the eliminated employees were fare collectors.

At that time, Commission CEO Mark Compton told the Senate Labor and Industry and Transportation committees there were three factors in the decision: the impact that the pandemic has had on the commission’s traffic and revenue; the health and safety of customers and employees; and the operational challenges in a post-COVID-19 world.

The turnpike has since lost more than $104 million from uncollected tolls.

New bill would bring back limited in-person toll collection

Rep. Manuel Guzman, D-Berks, has highlighted a report from The Associated Press that shows about 11 million trips without tolls occurred on the Pennsylvania Turnpike in 2020.

“Reports have shown that nearly half of the motorists traveling on the turnpike without an E-ZPass account passed through tolling facilities without being charged, making it clear that the commission was not adequately prepared to roll out an all-electronic tolling model,” Guzman said in a memo to House lawmakers.

Guzman has introduced a bill to bring back in-person toll collection during peak periods.

“By offering both in-person toll collection and electronic tolling, the PTC will be able to improve its electronic system during times when less turnpike traffic is expected and put an end to insufficient revenue production.”

First go-around to reinstate workers

A similar effort one year ago focused on reinstating the same number of toll collectors with the same pay and benefits that were in place on June 1, 2020.

The 2020 legislation advanced from the Senate Transportation Committee but did not come up for consideration on the Senate floor.

Guzman’s bill would establish a hybrid system that would bring back tollbooth workers during the road’s busiest hours.

The bill, HB2080, is in the House Transportation Committee.

More Land Line coverage of news from Pennsylvania is available.

 

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Keith Goble has been covering trucking-related laws since 2000. His daily web reports, radio news and “OOIDA’s State Watch” in Land Line Magazine are the industry’s premier sources for information regarding state legislative affairs.