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Pa. Turnpike to Eliminate Toll Plazas, Cash Payments

Plans are in the works to get rid of toll plazas and make the Pennsylvania Turnpike all electronic.

Officials are planning a dramatic conversion of the Pennsylvania Turnpike to all electronic tolling with no more toll plazas or cash payments in about five years.

Turnpike Commission officials told state lawmakers that the project is the most ambitious of its kind in the nation.

Instead of driving through toll plazas, vehicles will pass beneath sensors that will automatically deduct tolls from E-Z Pass accounts or photograph license plates so a bill can be sent to the owner.

In July, the commission hired a contractor—HNTB Corp., a Missouri company with five offices including one in Harrisburg—to move forward with the plans to convert to an all-electronic tolling system that would eliminate the use of cash along the 545-mile route, according to a Pennlive.com report.

It costs more than $67 million a year to staff toll plazas and that cost is projected to rise to $77 million by 2014. 

Meanwhile, turnpike tolls will increase in January:

  • 10 percent more for cash customers
  • 2 percent more for E-Z Pass customers
  • New rates start January 6

The last time tolls went up was January 2011.

The commission says the change will hike toll revenue 3 percent to fulfill a $450 million funding obligation to the state.

Judy November 20, 2012 at 12:26 AM
More employees are gonna be losing jobs. I dont have ezpass cause i feel im keeping someone from being laid off. I am not thrilled that i am being forced to get an ezpass or a bill it cost money to mail them and put a stamp on it.
EARL NELSON November 20, 2012 at 12:40 AM
Exactly Judy, it cost us the stamp& them the postage too, and who do they think is going to benefit from Ez-pass? That's right the company putting it in. Plus Maintenance fees and reworking the tolls. Why don't they finish paying off the debt before the sock us with this BS?
sean November 20, 2012 at 03:14 AM
some of you are idiots. I'm pro union.. .but this is just logical. You want to save some jobs toll 80 up north and put the money back into infrastructure.
Lizz November 20, 2012 at 04:25 AM
They already do this in Florida, it's kind of cool actually. They already have surveillance cameras in LBC on 95 and 413, and probably other places they haven't told you about. Trust me, if the government wants to find where you're driving, how fast, and when, they can on pretty much any SR. Haven't you noticed all of the lovely cameras on 132? They're not red light cams, they're surveillance. This is the age we live in, for better or for worse, you have no control over big brother. If you're that concerned, you should buy a bunker in Nevada, smash and recycle your cell, and stop using the internet. With privilege comes responsibility.
Capt. Obvious November 20, 2012 at 06:43 AM
so what if you live in a part of the country that doesn't use ez pass? you have to pay 10% more for using our roads? I hate ez pass. it's a rip off to anyone who doesn't need it regularly. maybe I'll invest in one of those license plate covers that screws with the cameras instead....
Carly Brown November 20, 2012 at 06:49 AM
Get rid of all the toll booths and put it in the gas tax and then you don't have to worry about EZ pass or sending in your payment when they send you a bill in the mail. I have lived in California and there are thousands upon thousands of miles of "freeway" there, not very many tolls at all, they are the annomally. Just a thought.
Liberty 1 November 20, 2012 at 08:42 AM
Yea, California has it right! Fiscal responsibility at it's finest. No offense Carly, but "just a thought" and "California" in the same sentence is an annomally.
Jeff Lugar November 20, 2012 at 12:37 PM
How is EZ-Pass a ripoff or a scam? It's cheaper if you use it. And you can find out your tolls ahead of time very easily. http://www.paturnpike.com/toll/tollmileage.aspx
bk3131 November 20, 2012 at 02:23 PM
If you hate EZ pass, then you have never used it. It is the greatest thing going. I fought it for a few years,because I didn't use the Pike much.(Actually sounded like some of the people on here) A friend kept pushing me to get it. She said when you do use it, you won't regret having it. BINGO! easiest thing going. For the conspiracy theorists, you can follow your account online for the supposed fake transactions and bank debits you like to talk about. Next time you are at Willow Grove or Mid County for Blue Route during rush hour, you will be smiling as you breeze past the crowd.
Jen November 20, 2012 at 02:46 PM
I agree with Leigh...I am sure it was a cash person in the wrong lane.
John November 20, 2012 at 03:01 PM
JES Frist the toll roads are a convenice , there are other ways to go from east to west that are not tolled. Second with the amount of traffic on these roads they need to be maintained, like the bridges. Don't need any bridge collapse. IE Minnasota
Lizz November 20, 2012 at 07:33 PM
If you read the whole thing, it tells you that if you don't have EZ Pass, it takes a picture of your license plate and sends you a bill, not a fine, a bill. Also, I got a letter in the mail that they lowered the annual fee of EZ Pass beginning in Dec.
Capt. Obvious November 20, 2012 at 08:24 PM
???? If you read what I actually wrote, I never said it was a fine, not a bill, they sent you. But while we're on that topic, the story DOES state that if you don't have ez pass, your rate is going up 10%, compared to 2% for cash. That's on top of the already 17% price difference (between cash and ez pass) started on 1/1/12. (www.paturnpike.com/toll/toll_info.aspx). So technically, there IS now going to be a 25% "penalty" for not having what they want you to have. To charge people 25% more just because we don't want ez pass, or don't live in a part of the country where ez pass is usefull or available, is a total disgrace.
Joe November 20, 2012 at 08:54 PM
Did you resist buying a gasoline car because you felt you were putting the steam engine builders out of business? Do you have a cell phone? What about those taking care of your landline? Ez pass not only gives you a cheaper toll rate but it saves you gas and wear and tear on your car. I don't need to come to a complete stop, open my window, have change in my car every time I get on the turnpike. Nor am I contributing to traffic congestion. Please stay off the turnpike. Oh wait, what's your alternative? Street road? Stop and go traffic is great for your fuel efficiency.
N. MacFar November 20, 2012 at 09:52 PM
I agree with you, Tom!
N. MacFar November 20, 2012 at 09:53 PM
Good luck with that...
Don November 21, 2012 at 01:45 AM
Sorry Pal your e-mail is in the government database.
EARL NELSON November 21, 2012 at 04:40 AM
Ez-pass = fools who are sheep. . . get rid of the tolls end of discussion!!!
Jeff Lugar November 21, 2012 at 02:26 PM
Jim, it's never been a penalty. EZ-Pass gives a discount because you use an automated system instead of the more costly toll collector. The turnpike saves money and passes savings on to the drivers.
Capt. Obvious November 21, 2012 at 04:37 PM
I call a 25% difference in price a penalty if I don't want their stupid machine tracking me everywhere I go. Who is to say they can't put 'readers' on every major road in the area, and track every when and where we go? Would you know if your transponder was sending out signals? no. Next thing you know, we'll have some damn ad agency (or big corporations) secretly putting readers in shopping center parking lots to know every time we shop and where.
Capt. Obvious November 21, 2012 at 04:44 PM
Seriously, as they force us all to have these tracking signals placed in our cars, who is to say their next move isn't to put 'readers' (that don't bill) on every major road, and track when and where we go (yes, I'm sure they already do to some extent. how else do they know it's x minutes to center city on the signs on I-95)? Ad agencies putting them in the parking lots of stores to track when and where you shop? etc etc etc. With computers today, it would be easy work to track our every move. Do you really want a walmart knowing everything you do?
Don November 22, 2012 at 12:00 AM
I know what you mean about the 24/7 tracking. Not real happy with it, but we gave that up when we bought a cell phone. My new camera has GPS tracking. EZ-Pass is the least of our problems. We are so screwed.
John Smith November 22, 2012 at 12:44 AM
3 THINGS.... Automation kills jobs !! Its hard to argue against a more efficient, less costly system !! I personally hate automation because as a customer the service is less with an auto-system !! If I were the business owner, I would see it the other way around !! The big question that I keep coming to is that it is not easy to stop !! I don't like them tracking me and having my acount info. ?!@#$%^&*... WHAT WILL HAPPEN TO THE SAVINGS THAT WILL BE CREATED ??? WILL SOME OF IT BE PASSED ON TO THE USERS ??? MARK MY WORDS...THEY WILL COME UP WITH RIDICULOUS REASONS WHY THERE WILL BE AN INCREASE IN THE TOLL AFTER IT IS ALREADY IN EFFECT AND IT'S TOO LATE.
John Smith November 22, 2012 at 12:48 AM
As I see it I have an option. I will not use it. I refuse to give them my account info. Have they calculated how many will find other routes? That may be the reason they give the remaining users for the increase. Just wait and see. It wont be better. Just different !
John Smith November 22, 2012 at 12:52 AM
SHEEPLE is an accurate discription. Picture an employee saying. "Just give me your money and don't ask directions or anything else... Thats what these automated systems do for the businesses that adopt them. They are telling you that customer service is a thing of the past. We are putting in a system that limit YOU to doing what they want you to do and thats ALL ! Sadly...
Jeff Lugar November 22, 2012 at 10:03 PM
Wow, Jim, your life must be so incredible that people must be dying to track you. Seriously, even if the data were stored and someone looked at it, knowing you got on at interchange x and off at interchange y hardly gives away where you were coming from and where you were going to. And there's video taken at cash lanes, too, so if they really want to track you so badly it would just take a little longer and some OCR software to read a license plate. And so what if they did track you? What are you doing that's so terrible that if your turnpike travel data sat in a computer somewhere that it's some awful thing? Anytime someone complains they need anonymity so badly it makes me suspicious of that person, not a government agency.
Capt. Obvious November 23, 2012 at 07:24 PM
Jeff, try and think outside the box a bit. Why does ezpass only have to be tracked on the turnpike? It may only be billed there, but anyone who pays can put up a sensor anywhere they like, and track everyone who passes it. Shopping center. Mall. That naughty little novelty store you stopped in 'just to look'. Maybe you were supposed to be at work, but you called out and said you were sick. (I can go on and on, based on what some people do on a regular basis) Do you want everywhere you really were that day to be available to whoever pays the monthly fee for the info? I sure don't. While I don't really have anything to hide, I don't think it's anyone's business but my own where I go and when. THAT alone is reason enough to not want it.
Capt. Obvious November 23, 2012 at 07:26 PM
oh, here's one.... what if I could hack the system, and find out you are out of the house from x to y every day, or 100 miles away on vacation. Hope you have a good home security system.
CyD252 November 24, 2012 at 04:53 AM
If you're really concerned about such a scenario, then simply wrap your transmitter in aluminum foil (or drop it in an aluminum-lined pouch) when you're not planning on going on the turnpike.
wayne January 13, 2013 at 11:15 AM
I agree, Maria. In Willow Grove, I have seen the backup stem from the fact that 611 North cannot handle the traffic load coming off the turnpike. Many times, the traffic is backed up AFTER the toll booths.

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