PA Turnpike Approves 2021 Toll Increase, New Toll By Plate Rates
The Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission (PTC) approved a six percent toll increase for all E-ZPass rates systemwide and for PA Turnpike Toll By Plate rates that had been established before last month’s permanent conversion to All-Electronic Tolling (AET) at these locations:
- Beaver Valley Expressway (I-376)
- Delaware River Bridge (N.J. border)
- Gateway Toll Plaza (Ohio border)
- Greensburg Bypass (PA Turnpike 66)
- Keyser Avenue and Clarks Summit Tolls (Northeastern Extension)
- Southern Beltway (PA Turnpike 576)
The increase — slated to take effect at 12:01 a.m. on Jan. 3, 2021 — will enable the PTC to continue to maintain and operate its system and ensure safe travel for up to 500,000 daily customers.
“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,” PA Turnpike CEO Mark Compton said. “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.”
Compton said the PTC’s debt-service costs on outstanding Act 44 bond debt are $440 million annually and growing; this amount must be paid each year even if the Commission seeks, and is granted, deferment of a quarterly Act 44 payment — as it recently did to partially offset revenue impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.
New Toll By Plate Rates Set
As part of its recent systemwide change in toll operations, the Commission also approved new Toll By Plate rates at Toll Points converted to All-Electronic Tolling (AET) in June. The new rates, which also take effect Jan. 3, 2021, include an average 45 percent increase over the 2020 cash rate for Toll By Plate motorists to reflect the costs of collections for this tolling method. The new rate will not be applied at the previously mentioned Toll By Plate facilities converted before 2020.
"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 AET systems,” Compton explained. “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.”
Because of today’s action, the most common toll for a passenger vehicle will increase from $1.50 to $1.60 for E-ZPass customers and from $2.50 to $3.90 for those choosing Toll By Plate. 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 PA Turnpike Toll By Plate customers.
With the PA Turnpike Toll By Plate option, high-speed cameras capture license-plate images as vehicles pass. The registered owner receives an invoice for trips made through the Toll Point. Invoices can be paid online, by phone, or by mail. Upon receipt of a Toll By Plate invoice, recipients do have an option to open an E-ZPass account and pay the lower rate.
The PTC is exploring options to offer Toll By Plate discounts to motorists through preregistration options. More details on these programs will be announced this year.
Compton encouraged travelers to consider E-ZPass, because it is the most convenient, least costly way to travel in Pennsylvania and is accepted in all neighboring states and across the eastern United States. E-ZPass is the largest interoperable toll-collection program in the United States, consisting of toll agencies in 18 states from Maine to Florida and west to Illinois. It was recently announced that Florida’s Turnpike Enterprise will start accepting E-ZPass this year, joining the Central Florida Expressway Authority’s toll road network in Metro Orlando in accepting E-ZPass for payment of tolls.
“Currently, 86 percent of our customers have chosen E-ZPass, with more switching every day. Now that hundreds of grocery stores in the commonwealth offer E-ZPass, chances are you regularly pass by at least one of them,” Compton said. “Because of our low administration and enrollment fees, and the ability to set up an automatically replenished or cash-funded E-ZPass account, there’s simply no reason not to get it.”
Most of PA’s top grocery chains, including Giant Eagle, Acme, Giant Food Stores, and Wegmans, offer E-ZPass Go Paks. In addition, travelers can pick up an E-ZPass Go Pak — which includes a transponder that must be registered before it is used — at all 17 Turnpike service plazas and Pennsylvania AAA offices. To find a location nearby, visit https://www.paturnpike.com/e-zpass.
The PA Turnpike no longer accepts cash or credit cards on the system after having permanently converted to AET collection last month. Since the PTC began studying, planning for and implementing AET, more than 30 agencies in 14 states have established systems using proven AET technologies.
E-ZPass Usage Continues to Grow in PA and Around the Nation
The PTC has been experiencing an unparalleled penetration of E-ZPass usage since March, when the decision to stop collecting cash at the Toll Points was made to help stem the spread of COVID-19. Currently, more than 85 percent of all transactions are conducted using E-ZPass.
The E-ZPass Interagency Group announced this month that the Florida Turnpike Enterprise and the State Road and Tollway Authority of Georgia will join the E-ZPass network.
E-ZPass is already the largest interoperable toll collection program in the United States, consisting of toll agencies in 18 states, servicing more than 24 million accounts and 43 million transponders, with operations stretching from Maine to Florida, and west to Illinois.
PTC Continues to Ramp Up Collection Efforts
The Commission continues to expand efforts to use all available enforcement tools, including partnerships with district attorneys’ offices in PA Turnpike counties, to pursue toll scofflaws.
The Bucks County district attorney will prosecute repeat toll violators who owe more than $2,000 in unpaid tolls and disregard repeated payment reminders. The office created a special unit focused on these scofflaws. This new unit will also lead efforts to prosecute repeat violators in Montgomery County.
“Toll violations that occur in these counties represent more than half of all the toll violations statewide. In total, there are 709,497 violations here, which add up to more than $21 million in unpaid tolls,” PTC Commissioner Pat Deon said in announcing the creation of the new unit.
Under the partnership, the PTC provided a grant to the Bucks County district attorney’s office, which will fund the hiring of a new county detective and an additional attorney to lead the unit.
Click here for more information on this initiative.
In addition, the Commission is working with toll entities in other states to establish reciprocity agreements to better collect from nonresidents.
New Vendor Portal Coming in the Fall
This fall, PTC is introducing a new Vendor Portal that will improve efficiency for our business partners.
The Vendor Portal will help expedite invoice processing by electronically routing invoices to the appropriate PTC approver. In addition, vendors will be able to view status updates on submitted invoices. The portal will also streamline the process for business partners to submit Diverse Business (DB) compliance reports.
Vendor registration and account management will become fully self-service. Vendors will be able to manage accounts, including addresses, contact information, and tax and banking information, through the portal. Administrators at each company will have authority to add or delete contacts and assign appropriate roles for using the portal.
Please note that this portal will NOT REPLACE the Engineering & Construction Management System or the Electronic Bidding System. Vendors currently using those systems will continue to do so. This portal will serve all other business partners.
Click here to access our FAQ on the timing and the portal’s features. Please keep checking this link for updates.