Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Turnpike Announces Tolls at New Cashless Plazas

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Turnpike Announces Tolls at New Cashless Plazas

Article excerpt

As it moves toward a full cashless toll system by 2022, the Pennsylvania Turnpike is pushing to convert stragglers to the prepaid E-ZPass system by hitting them in the wallet.

Tolls announced Wednesday for two new cashless plazas will be higher for motorists who use the Toll By Plate system, in which a vehicle's license plate is photographed when it passes through a toll plaza and a bill is mailed to the motorist. Previously, Toll By Plate users paid the same as cash customers, but with cash being phased out, the new fees are higher to reflect the turnpike's actual cost for issuing a bill, turnpike CEO Mark Compton said.

The turnpike is going cashless to eliminate toll collectors - most of whom have moved to other jobs or left through attrition - to reduce operating costs. About 85% of motorists now use E-ZPass, but that means the agency still needs employees to handle cash and process Toll By Plate payments.

It would rather convert everyone to E-ZPass, but it also is working with a consultant to develop a smartphone app to automatically deduct the payment from the driver's account. The fee for the smartphone app, which should be ready by the end of the year, would be more than E-ZPass but less than Toll By Plate.

"The [turnpike's] four cashless tolling projects implemented in 2016, '17 and '18 have provided a clearer picture of the actual cost of collections associated with the Toll By Plate program," Mr. Compton said in a statement. "Without a doubt, E-ZPass, used by nearly 85 percent of Turnpike travelers, will continue to be the least-expensive option and the only one accepted everywhere on our system."

Mr. Compton stressed the convenience of E-ZPass, which can be obtained at many grocery stores across the state and can be used in 16 states, including all states adjacent to Pennsylvania.

"With hundreds of grocery stores in the commonwealth offering E-ZPass, chances are you pass by at least one of them every day," Mr. …

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