Expect 2019 to take a toll on commuters' wallets

Fares on Pa. Turnpike will increase by 6 percent

Kim Glovas
July 03, 2018 - 3:39 pm

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PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — Commuters who use the Pennsylvania Turnpike will be paying a little more come the new year. 

The Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission has approved a 6 percent increase in tolls for E-ZPass and cash-paying travelers. 

"We like to give six months kind of notification," said Carl DeFebo, turnpike director of public relations and marketing, "so we do typically approve a toll increase in July and it will take effect in January of the following year."

The toll increase is set to begin on Jan. 6, 2019. 

He said the most common distance traveled on the turnpike is one exit, so the increase for motorists will be nominal. The funds generated are already earmarked to improve the 552-mile system, partially for widening the highway. More than 130 miles of the turnpike has already been widened or reconstructed.

"The turnpike has the distinction of being America's first super highway, but that comes with a lot of maintenance and operating costs as well," DeFebo added. "So we do obviously have to update our system for toll-paying customers."

The Turnpike Commission is also mandated to give $450 million per year to support transportation in the state, including SEPTA.

Auditor General Eugene DePasquale issued a statement following the vote to raise tolls — the eleventh consecutive annual increase.

"As my previous audit and my 2013 special report requested by House Speaker Mike Turzai predicted, until legislators in Harrisburg address the $450 million payment the Turnpike must make to PennDOT annually, tolls are going to continue to rise. I currently have teams auditing both PennDOT and the Turnpike Commission. The results of those two audits could help provide some relief for motorists who are already tired of the toll increases," he said. "If they keep raising tolls, middle-class families are going to be forced off the roadway."

So what does the increase mean for the average commuter?

"That'll just mean for E-ZPass customers about an 8 cent increase, from $1.30 to $1.38," DeFebo said. "For those who pay with cash, the most common toll there is going to go from $2.10 to $2.25."