For E-Z Pass users, the commission claimed the cost of the turnpike’s most-common toll for passenger vehicles will rise about 10 cents, from $1.80 to $1.90. For Toll-By-Plate drivers, the cost for the same trip increases about 30 cents, from $4.40 to $4.70.
Big rigs are affected too. The most-common toll for a Class-5 tractor trailer will increase from $14.40 to $15.20 for E-Z Pass, and from $29.40 to $30.90 for Toll-By-Plate.
E-Z Pass drivers continue to receive the lowest rates across the turnpike, saving nearly 60 percent over Toll-By-Plate rates.
The continuing yearly toll hikes reflect turnpike financial circumstances, its CEO Mark Compton explained. Previous legislation forced turnpike funds to be used in part to supplement Pennsylvania Department of Transportation transit costs. The commission earlier was required legally to annually pay $450 million to PennDOT. The sum is now reduced to $50 million annually.
However, commission borrowing to cover the cost of the mandated payments created a roughly $8 billion debt. The commission won’t pay it off until 2053. The commission hopes it can reduce toll increases to only 3 percent in another 5 years, by 2028.
Despite the requirement, Compton said the turnpike “is on sound financial footing.” The commission has kept expenses at or below approved levels by holding down operating costs. he noted. It ended fiscal year 2023 with estimated actual expenses roughly 15 percent below budget. In fiscal 2022, its expenses were 25 percent below budget.