2014 Toll Increase In Keystone State Will Hit Cash Customers Hardest
The cost of driving the Pennsylvania Turnpike will be increasing again when tolls are raised on January 5, 2014. Tolls have gone up annually on the Penna Turnpike, in recent years, to help pay for roadway renovations, expansions and a massive service plaza upgrade program that is winding down in 2014.
The rate hikes will hit cash customers hardest, as the average cash rate will surge by about 12%, according to the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission, which announced the rate increase during the peak of the summer driving season. The increase was approved in mid July.
The PTC has been pushing more people to buy the electronic tolling device, E-ZPass, citing a lower cost of operation. Providing staff for toll booths is significantly reduced with the E-ZPass, and overall toll collection is anywhere from one-fifth to only one-tenth the cost of having to collect cash tolls, according to the PTC’s estimates. In fact, the 2014 cash price increase is 20% higher than 2013, while the E-ZPass rates are going up by the same percentage.
In fact, E-ZPass rates will only increase by about 2% on January 5, as opposed to the 12% for cash tolls. For short-distance travelers, the increase may not be little more than an irritation. The PTC reports the average cash toll on the Pennsylvania Turnpike is about $4.49, as opposed to $2.92 using the E-ZPass on the same trip.
Truckers To Face Steep New Travel Costs
However, the longer the distance traveled, the greater the pinch on the wallet. A traveler driving the full-length of the mainline, from Ohio to New Jersey, currently pays $39.15 in cash tolls, versus $30.77 for E-ZPass users. And those are only the lower rates, for passenger cars.
With such a dramatic price increase in the cash toll rate, the coming differential will certainly be felt for both commuters and long-distance travelers. However, it is truckers who will really be hard hit by the rate increase. Currently, a 5-axle truck hauling about 35,000 pounds of freight will incur $121.80 in cash tolls; after January 5, that figure will increase to $136.40. E-ZPass prices will be higher, but the rate will only go from the current $96.03 to $97.95.
And the bigger the truck or heavier the load, the higher the price will be. Tolls on the Pennsylvania Turnpike can run into the thousands of dollars for a trucker paying cash, and the 2014 price increase will ruther exacerbate those costs. In fact, the falling cost of diesel fuel will be lost in Pennsylvania, primarily offset by the coming turnpike toll increase.
The PTC has not announced whether it will continue raising rates on an annual basis and in perpetuity. However, regular drivers on Pennyslvania’s Turnpike and Northeast Extension have become accustomed to paying a new toll with the new year. For 2014, however, the rate increase comes a day earlier than it did in 2013.
The Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission news release, announcing the toll increases, may be downloaded here.