Unpaid Turnpike tolls target of Pennsylvania bill

October 2, 2023

Keith Goble


A bill nearing passage in the Pennsylvania Senate targets Pennsylvania Turnpike users who do not pay tolls.

The Senate Transportation Committee voted 13-1 to advance a bill that calls for garnishing certain Pennsylvania lottery winnings and state income tax returns of non-paying turnpike users. Sen. Lisa Boscola, D-Northampton, said the Pennsylvania Turnpike reported a projected total of $155 million in unpaid tolls from April 2021 to March 2022. That amount was up 49% from the previous year.

For 2023, the amount of unpaid tolls has increased to $170 million – up $15 million from the previous year.

“The Turnpike made a mistake in going totally cashless and laying off those toll collectors. Ever since, it seems unpaid tolls have gone up by the tens of millions each year,” Boscola said in prepared remarks.

The Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission approved layoffs of 500 toll collectors in June 2020. The decision moved the interstate network to a cashless system.

“Law-abiding Pennsylvanians have been paying their fair share. Yet, repeat offenders are getting away without paying,” Boscola stated. “If we don’t go after them with more effective methods, more and more will try to avoid paying … Then the whole system falls apart.”

Going after ‘scofflaws’

Boscola’s bill, SB473, includes multiple recommendations offered by the Pennsylvania Auditor General’s performance audit report. This report highlighted several mechanisms the Turnpike Commission could use to enforce unpaid toll collection.

Specifically, the legislation would garnish lottery winnings in excess of $2,500. Taxpayers due a state income tax refund also would have unpaid toll amounts deducted from their refund. The Department of Revenue would work with the Turnpike Commission to set up guidelines and framework for determining delinquencies in paying tolls.

“My bill will create another tool to go after these scofflaws,” Boscola said. “We needed to come up with a creative method to maximize collections so we can reinvest those funds in Turnpike improvement projects.”

SB473 awaits further consideration in the Senate. LL

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