Carl DeFebo

Manager, Media and Public Relations


C  O  M  M  I  S  S  I  O  N       N  E  W  S       R  E  L  E  A  S  E

Contact:

Bill Capone - 717-939-9551, ext. 3040
Carl DeFebo - 717-920-7176

March 24, 2005

 

Pa. Turnpike Commission Celebrates

Important E-ZPass Revenue Milestone

For the first time, E-ZPass earnings account for half of all toll income.

 

HARRISBURG, PA. (March 24, 2005) - Pennsylvania Turnpike officials today announced that, for the first time, income from the E-ZPass electronic-toll-collection program accounted for 50 percent of total toll revenue for the month of January 2005.

"This is a significant landmark for the Turnpike Commission that shows how popular E-ZPass has become since it was introduced in Pennsylvania just four years ago," said Turnpike CEO Joe Brimmeier. "As enrollment continues to expand, the E-ZPass system becomes even more efficient and convenient for our customers. Now, we are beginning to see that just as many motorists use E-ZPass as those who use the conventional toll-ticket system."

Since the launch of E-ZPass in Pennsylvania in December 2000, the program has experienced exceptional growth. The Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission presently manages 380,000 E-ZPass accounts with 710,000 active E-ZPass transponders, or "tags," in use. The Commission today logs 5.5 million E-ZPass transactions a month (or 183,000 daily). On average, 47 percent of all toll transactions, passenger and commercial, are E-ZPass transactions. In fact, at nine of the Turnpike's busiest Southeastern Pennsylvania interchanges, E-ZPass motorists now account for more than 60 percent of traffic during morning rush hour.

"To ensure that the popularity of E-ZPass continues its phenomenal expansion, we are totally committed to making frequent upgrades and enhancements to the system," Brimmeier said. "We have recently added more standard E-ZPass lanes, we are now installing additional E-ZPass Express Lanes, and we are making some other improvements such as added functionality to the E-ZPass web site."

The Warrendale Toll Plaza (#30) in Allegheny County was the state's first site for Express E-ZPass where customers travel at highway speed (55 mph) through a designated lane. Other Express E-ZPass lanes are now being installed or designed at mainline toll plazas, including Gateway (#2), Mid-County (#20), Delaware River Bridge (#359) and for the proposed Pa. Turnpike/I-95 Link, Bucks County.

E-ZPass use in Southwestern Pennsylvania, however, has not been as brisk as in other areas of the state; while morning peak at Warrendale (#30), Butler Valley (#39) and Allegheny Valley (#48) generates weekday traffic volumes comprised of 40 percent E-ZPass usage, all other western Pennsylvania exits lag behind with just 20 to 30 percent of a.m. commuters using E-ZPass.

"The Commission wants to reverse that trend and make the greater Pittsburgh area an E-ZPass stronghold," Brimmeier said. "We've recently introduced several unique marketing initiatives in the region to make E-ZPass even easier to get; we believe that these measures will help increase E-ZPass penetration in this market."

Southwestern Pennsylvania motorists can now get E-ZPass at select Pittsburgh AAA offices. Transponders are available at AAA offices in Monroeville, Century III and Cranberry. To enroll at the AAA offices, the customer fills out an application, establishes a pre-paid account, pays the associated fees and receives the E-ZPass transponder on the spot. The E-ZPass tag can be used immediately.

"This is the first time that the Pennsylvania Turnpike has offered the E-ZPass tags at a retail location," Brimmeier said. "AAA was a natural choice for a partner on the project, since they've been providing motorist services for more than a century. Right now, E-ZPass is only available in three branch offices, but we are looking to quickly expand the program in the Pittsburgh area as well as in the Philadelphia region."

Yet another way to open a new E-ZPass account is through vending machines the Turnpike is rolling out at select sites. The first "Tag Teller" was recently installed in the Turnpike's Hempfield Service Plaza, Westmoreland County, near the New Stanton Exit (#75). A machine will also be installed at the Allentown Service Plaza, Lehigh County, in May. Other off-Turnpike Tag Teller locations, including Strawberry Square, Harrisburg, will be added in April as part of a pilot to assess the machines.

"The Tag Teller has a touch-screen display and keyboard that customers use to sign up, and a friendly 'automated assistant' walks them through a brief enrollment form," Brimmeier said. "Simply swipe your credit card and Pennsylvania driver's license, then key in the make, model and license plate number of your vehicle. The process, from start to finish, takes only 3 or 4 minutes; these machines make getting E-ZPass almost as effortless as buying a pack of chewing gum."

Besides Pennsylvania, E-ZPass can be used in 10 other states - including New York, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland and Virginia. E-ZPass lanes process 1,400 transactions per hour compared to traditional ticket lanes that process 250-350 transactions per hour. To join E-ZPass, visit the Turnpike's website at www.paturnpike.com or call toll free 1-877-PENN-PASS (736-6727).

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 P.O. Box 67676, Harrisburg, PA 17106-7676         Phone: (717) 939-9551         Fax: (717) 986-9649