The Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission has increased tolls every year since 2009 as a result of Act 44 of 2007, which requires the Commission to fix and adjust toll rates as needed to meet funding and other financial obligations.
New revenue from the toll increase will fund the Turnpike's fiscal 2011 financial obligations, including $450 million to the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation to satisfy the Turnpike's Act 44 requirement, $420 million to support the Turnpike's capital-improvement plan, $306 million for Turnpike operating expenses and $298.5 million in debt-service payments.
The Commission increased tolls in January 2010 by 3 percent and January 2009 by 25 percent. Prior to 2009, the Commission increased tolls in August 2004.
"In announcing this increase, I want to make it clear to our customers and to all Pennsylvanians that we've done our best to streamline operations and become more efficient - especially after the economic downturn that impacted us as it has every other business," said Joe Brimmeier, Pennsylvania Turnpike CEO. "The Turnpike has 200 fewer employees now than at any time in the past decade, yet we're responsible for more traffic, more highway miles and more investment in our state's ground-transportation infrastructure."
The Turnpike accommodates 30 million more vehicles per year, has built and is operating 188 new lane miles and brings in nearly double the annual revenues compared to 10 years ago.
"Each time we build a new piece of tolled expressway or add lanes during a six-lane widening project, that creates more miles to take care of for maintenance crews," Brimmeier said.
This is the first time E-ZPass users, which make up almost two-thirds of Turnpike travelers, will pay lower tolls than cash customers on the Turnpike since the electronic toll-collection system was launched in the state a decade ago.
"We believe it's essential to encourage more consumers to get E-ZPass," said Brimmeier. "Besides the enhanced convenience for motorists, it's four times more efficient, processing up to 1,200 vehicles per hour compared to 300 per hour in a cash lane. Electronic toll collection is also more economical, allowing us to better manage traffic and increase capacity without adding toll-plaza lanes to accommodate growth. Plus, E-ZPass reduces idling at interchanges, which is better for the environment."
The Pennsylvania Turnpike manages more than 850,000 active E-ZPass accounts, with a total of over 1.2 million Pennsylvania Turnpike E-ZPass transponders in use. Nationally, there are more than 20 million transponders in use on E-ZPass toll roads and bridges today.
For more information, go to www.paturnpike.com.