Pennsylvania drivers will ring in the New Year with another toll hike on the Pennsylvania Turnpike. Effective January 7 at 12:01 a.m., tolls will increase by 5% for both E-ZPass and Toll by Plate customers.
The most-common toll for a Class 5 tractor trailer will increase from $14.40 to $15.20 for E-ZPass and from $29.40 to $30.90 for Toll By Plate.
This latest increase is just one of many implemented by the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission (PTC) in recent years to help cover the escalating debt service stemming from Act 44 of 2007. According to PTC Chief Financial Officer Rick Dreher, the annual toll hikes are necessary to manage the mandates of Act 44, which requires the Turnpike to pay PennDOT $450 million annually for non-Turnpike transportation needs. Although the payments have been significantly reduced, the Turnpike must continue to raise tolls to pay off the resulting debt service through 2051.
Despite the toll increases, the PTC claims that their per-mile toll rates are still lower than national toll averages and remain in the mid-range among the 47 toll roads in the US. In addition, the Turnpike has taken several cost-cutting measures, including managing debt efficiently, controlling operating expenses, reducing the workforce, cutting the 10-year capital program, and identifying non-toll funding sources.
The Turnpike also reminds drivers that Act 112, signed into law in 2018 and enhanced in 2022, allows the Turnpike to suspend motor-vehicle registrations of owners with four or more overdue Toll by Plate invoices or $250 or more in unpaid tolls or outstanding toll invoices.
To make payment easier, the Turnpike has implemented a QR code system for Toll by Plate invoices and partnered with a cash-payment network allowing customers to pay invoices and replenish E-ZPass accounts at 70,000 stores nationwide.
Meanwhile, construction continues on the Turnpike's conversion to Open Road Tolling (ORT), which will allow for free-flowing traffic and reduce congestion. The ORT system is expected to launch in January 2025 for the eastern part of the state and in early 2027 for the rest of the system.