New Castle News

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August 3, 2013

Turnpike to go all-electronic for toll collecting

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“Now it’s a violation,” DeFebo said. Once the system is in place, “They will just receive a bill.”
That bill will be based on a toll price that is higher than if the motorist used E-ZPass.
To get an E-ZPass subscription, motorists must pay $38 up front, but $35 of that cost is available for tolls. The remaining $3 is a service fee.
In testimony before a Senate panel this week, Mark Compton, turnpike chief executive officer, described the shift to all-electronic tolling as “the most significant operational change in (the turnpike’s) 75-year history.”
The scale of the project is unprecedented. While all-electronic tolling is becoming increasingly common across the country, the Pennsylvania Turnpike would be the largest cashless tolling system in the nation.
There is little reason to believe the technology is insufficient to handle the task, said state Rep. Mark Longietti, D-Mercer County. But, there are some questions about how easy it will be to collect money from out-of-state travelers, he said.
“I know the collection rate won’t be 100 percent.”
DeFebo said “reciprocity” has become a buzzword in the industry as states scramble to make sure that they are cooperating sufficiently to share information about travelers who owe tolls. Fifteen states use E-ZPass, so it’s much easier to share information with them, he said.
The 2014 toll increase is the sixth since the state passed Act 44, a law that mandated the turnpike begin paying $450 million a year to the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation.
The turnpike was supposed to be able recoup its money by tolling Interstate 80. But the federal government refused to allow I-80 tolling, and the Legislature has yet to pass a law to get the turnpike out from under its Act 44 obligations.
 

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