Photo: Ben Schumin via Wikimedia Commons

Photo: Ben Schumin via Wikimedia Commons

The Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission has approved a 5% toll increase for both E-ZPass and cash customers that will take effect on Jan. 4, 2015.

While the increase affects cash and E-ZPass rates similarly, E-ZPass customers will continue to save at least 35 percent on PA Turnpike tolls in 2015, according the commission.

“Yearly turnpike toll increases are necessary for the commission to satisfy the financial plan outlined under a transportation-funding law enacted seven years ago,” said Pennsylvania Turnpike CEO Mark Compton. “Under Act 44 of 2007, the PTC must make annual transportation-funding payments to Pennsylvania Department of Transportation while at the same time allocating funding to maintain and improve our own 550-plus mile system, parts of which turn 75 years old next year.”

The 2015 toll increase will be the seventh annual rate increase needed under Act 44 of 2007. It is the first time since 2011 that E-ZPass rates have gone up by the same percent as cash rates. E-ZPass tolls have increased by 7% since lower rates for E-ZPass were first introduced in 2011, according to the commission.                                                                  

Since the turnpike commission started making annual payments to the Pennsylvania DOT, it has so far provided $4.3 billion for roads, bridges and transit assistance statewide. Last year’s transportation-funding law, Act 89, lessened the PTC’s funding requirement to PennDOT, according to the commission. The PTC’s annual payments remain at $450 million for eight more years, through June of 2022. But, starting in fiscal year 2023, those payments will drop to $50 million per year until the Act-44 agreement ends in 2057.

“While Act 89 does provide long-term financial relief, it does not eliminate our debt or funding obligation,” said Compton. “Therefore, the commission will need to continue to increase tolls annually for the foreseeable future.”

Meantime, the cost of driving the Indiana Toll road is increasing an average of 2.67% for all drivers who don’t have E-ZPass, starting July 1, according to the Chicago Sun Times.

The toll for a typical five-axle semitrailer going the 157-mile length of the highway will be $39.70, up from its current $38.70.

Rates for drivers with transponders will remain unchanged through 2016.

The hikes on the Indiana route are allowed annually, under a lease of the toll road that went into effect years ago. Just before it went into effect, tolls along the route had not been raised for more than 20 years.