Drivers on the Pennsylvania Turnpike could one day be missing something…
Last week the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission announced that they were moving forward with the next step in a plan to possibly eliminate tollbooths on the highway entirely, instead opting for an All-Electronic Toll (AET) system that is cashless.
Officials say it would take at least five years to get cash-free tolling in place so the earliest AET could be in effect is late 2017.
Currently the 32 percent of drivers using the Turnpike that don’t have E-ZPass pay about 17 percent more for tolls than drivers with E-ZPass, according to turnpike spokesman Carl Defabo.
The cashless tolling system could wind up costing motorists without E-ZPass a whole lot more. The new plan could increase tolls up to 50 percent for drivers currently without E-ZPass, Defabo said.
The increased costs would help pay for cameras, processing and mailings related to a license plate tolling system where motorists without E-ZPass would be charged a toll via mail.
AET is already in place on the Intercounty Connector in suburban Washington, D.C. and some other areas.
The next step in the $320 million project would be for the Turnpike Commission to pick a program manager to have in place by the fall who can examine further the finances, traffic effects, environmental impacts and more that could occur with AET.
Another step towards AET would be getting the state legislature to ave the way for cashless tolls and make it easier for the Turnpike Commission to request tolls of motorists in other states who didn't use E-ZPass.
“As the report makes clear, We have a lot of work to do before a final decision can be made, but this is an important step forward -- one we’re excited to announce and share with our customers,” said Turnpike CEO Roger Nutt. “All-Electronic Tolling is a significant trend in our industry that a number of other agencies have implemented or are considering, and it is important that we thoroughly study such a possible conversion.”