Toll rates on Pennsylvania Turnpike increase on Jan. 3

December 31, 2020

Tyson Fisher

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A new year means new toll rates in Pennsylvania, which go into effect on Jan. 3.

For the 13th consecutive year, the Pennsylvania Turnpike will increase tolls at the beginning of the year. In July, the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission announced that tolls will increase by 6% in 2021. The increase will affect 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 Avenue and Clarks Summit tolls (I-476/Northeastern Extension)
  • Findlay Connector (PA Turnpike 576/Southern Beltway).

The most common toll for a Class 5 tractor-trailer will increase from $12.20 to $13 for E-ZPass customers 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, toll rates for those who use the Toll By Plate option will go from $2.50 to $3.90.

In addition to the 6% increase, all toll facilities that converted to all-electronic tolling in March will see an additional 45% increase for Toll By Plate drivers.

That additional toll rate increase does not affect the six above locations.

The additional increase reflects the higher cost of collecting tolls at those facilities, according to the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation.

“The new Toll By Plate rate 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.”

Drivers who do not have E-ZPass can still receive a discounted toll rate. The Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission upgraded its mobile app to include account management for non-E-ZPass customers. Those drivers can set up an autopay account and receive a 15% savings on their monthly Toll By Plate bill. That feature will be available beginning Jan. 3 on the PA Toll Pay app.

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 the Pennsylvania Turnpike 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, 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. LL

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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.