$100M+ of uncollected tolls could affect Pennsylvania Turnpike motoristsJan 30, 2023
More than $100 million of outstanding debt from the Pennsylvania Turnpike is from uncollected tolls, raising concerns from the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission.
In a FOX 43 report, State Auditor General Timothy L. DeFoor stated Missed tolls stand at more than $104 million.
E-Z Pass customers who pay automatically when tolls are electronically debited from prepaid accounts represent 86% of turnpike drivers; while, the remaining 14% of Turnpike drivers use a system called Toll By Plate, a pay by mail system that sends bills to the registered owner of a vehicle after taking photos at toll booths take a picture of the vehicle’s license plate.
Toll-by-plate users are responsible for 7% of unpaid tolls, translating to half of the users who don’t end up paying for their rides.
The vast majority of unpaid tolls come from Turnpike users who do not use E-Z Pass, according to reports by FOX 43, a Fox-affiliated television station licensed to York, Pennsylvania, United States, and serving the Susquehanna Valley region.
2023 marks the final year the Turnpike will need to pay $450 million, from 2023 through 2057 that amount will drop to $50 million a year.
The auditor’s report encourages the legislature to unify under the common goal of financial viability in the future over worries of rising debt.
"Today, the Pennsylvania Turnpike has more debt than the entire state government of Pennsylvania, and the only way to pay it is to raise tolls," DeFoor said in the FOX 43 report. "The Turnpike's debt is $13.2 billion."
Turnpike travelers experience much of the financial burden according to the audit. Turnpike Auditor General DeFloor recommends lowering operational costs to alleviate the cost faced by motorists. Pa. Turnpike CEO Mark Compton believes the Turnpike's detrimental debt is a symptom of Act 44, which required Pa. Turnpike Commissions to provide PennDOT with $450 million annually for highways, bridges, and public transit. "While those payments have recently been reduced to $50 million annually, and we have managed debt efficiently and controlled operating costs, paying the accrued debt will require ongoing toll increases for the next 28 years," Compton expressed to FOX 43.