Pennsylvania Turnpike announces 13th annual toll increase

July 21, 2020

Tyson Fisher

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It happens every July, and this year is no exception. The Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission announced the annual toll increase that will go into effect on Jan. 3.

On Tuesday, July 21, the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission approved a 6% toll increase. The increase affects all E-ZPass and Toll By Plate rates at the following locations:

  • Beaver Valley Expressway (I-376).
  • Delaware River Bridge (New Jersey border).
  • Gateway Toll Plaza (Ohio border).
  • Greensburg Bypass (PA Turnpike 66).
  • Keyser Ave. and Clarkes Summit Tolls (Northeastern Extension).
  • Southern Beltway (PA Turnpike 576).

However, Toll By Plate rates at toll facilities that converted to all-electronic tolling last month will increase by about 45%. According to the turnpike commission, the large increase will reflect the costs of collections for this tolling method. However, the new rate will not apply to facilities that were converted before this year.

“The new Toll By Platerate reflects the higher costs the Commission incurs to process the toll and collect payment – a pricing approach used by tolling agencies across the nation to cover the costs of administering (all-electronic tolling) systems,” turnpike commission CEO Mark Compton said in a statement. “This balanced approach allows us to maintain a lower rate for those choosing a payment method that is less costly to manage, while those who choose a pricier payment option absorb those costs.”

According to a Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission news release, the most common toll for a Class 5 tractor-trailer will increase from $12.20 to $13 for E-ZPass and from $17.30 to $26.60 for Toll By Plate customers.

For passenger vehicles, the most common toll will increase from $1.50 to $1.60 for E-ZPass customers. However, rates for those who use the Toll By Plate option will go from $2.50 to $3.90.

The turnpike commission is exploring options to offer Toll By Plate discounts to motorists through registration options. More details on these programs are expected to be announced later this year.

This marks the 13th consecutive increase for the Pennsylvania Turnpike system. Last year, tolls increased by 6% as well.

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

In 2013, Act 89 decreased PTC’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, turnpike commission Chair Sean Logan said in statement a few years ago. Increases will continue through 2044, and payments totaling $5 billion will continue through 2057.

“The primary driver of the annual toll-rate increases continues to be our quarterly transit payments to PennDOT and the resulting debt service that comes along with the legislatively mandated funding obligation,” Compton said in a statement. “As a result, the PA Turnpike has delivered almost $7 billion in funding to PennDOT in the last decade, primarily to support mass-transit operations in Philadelphia and Pittsburgh.”

The amount of money generated from the turnpike was the center of a legal battle between the state and the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association.

OOIDA argued that Congress did not foresee a state increasing tolls by more than 200% to fund nontoll road projects. However, a federal appeals court affirmed a lower court’s dismissal of the case. Subsequently, the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear the case.

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.