Pennsylvania Turnpike fares to rise another 6 percent in 2019
Motorists will pay about 6 percent more to drive the Pennsylvania Turnpike next year, whether they pay cash or use the E-ZPass pay system.
The turnpike commission Tuesday approved raising rates beginning Jan. 6, a decision which will make the most common toll for a passenger vehicle increase from $1.30 to $1.38 for the E-Z pass holders and from $2.10 to $2.25 for cash customers.
The most common toll for a Class-5 tractor-trailer will increase from $3.45 to $3.66 for E-ZPass and from $15.35 to $16.30 for cash. Truckers driving a Class 5 tractor-trailer who use E-ZPass tend to take shorter trips than those who pay with cash or PA Turnpike TOLL-BY-PLATE, the commission said. The TOLL-BY-PLATE is for non-E-ZPass customers and is available only at cashless tolling points on the PA Turnpike. Cameras at the exits capture a vehicle's license plate and the owner is mailed a bill.
The commission selected Jan. 6 as the starting date for the fare hikes because it is a Sunday and that is a day when there is a low-volume ridership, said Carl Defebo Jr., a commission spokesman.
Starting the new fares on a Sunday “makes implementation of the rates easier and smoother at the tollbooth” and avoids delays, Defebo said.
The commission said it has raised the rates 11 consecutive years to generate enough revenue to make the required payments to PennDOT, as well as improve the 522-mile turnpike system. The commission has turned over $6.1 billion to the transportation department since 2009.
The commission transferred $750 million to PennDOT in 2007, $850 million in 2008 and $900 million in 2009. Since 2010, the commission said it has had to give PennDOT $450 million annually.
“Parts of our tollway will soon turn 78 years old, and we owe it to toll-paying customers to continue to invest in our road to make it safer, smoother and wider,” said turnpike CEO Mark Compton. “This year, about 84 percent of our $552 million capital budget is focused on renewing, rebuilding and widening our highway system which last year carried more than 200 million vehicles.”
The toll rates are already controversial.
In March, a group of truckers sued the state over what they described as years of excessive toll increases.
The lawsuit filed in federal court in Harrisburg accuses the turnpike — which has increased toll rates by more than 200 percent since 2006 — of violating federal commerce law and hindering a citizen's constitutional right to travel.
Joe Napsha is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 724-836-5252 or firstname.lastname@example.org.