PA Turnpike Plans for 6% Toll Increase in 2020

The Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission approved a six percent toll increase for 2020 for both E-ZPass and cash customers. The increase is set to start at 12:01 a.m. on Jan. 5, 2020 on all sections and extensions excluding three western PA “cashless” toll facilities.

Because of today’s action, the most-common toll for a passenger vehicle next year will increase from $1.40 to $1.50 for E-ZPass customers and from $2.30 to $2.50 for cash customers. The most common toll for a Class-5 tractor trailer will increase from $3.70 to $4.00 for E-ZPass and from $16.30 to $17.30 for cash. The cashless toll at the westbound Delaware River Bridge will increase from $5.30 to $5.70 for E-ZPass customers and from $7.20 to $7.70 for those who use PA Turnpike TOLL BY PLATE.

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Tolls will not rise on Jan. 5, 2020 at three western PA highways as these locations will see increases Oct. 27, 2019. They are: PA Turnpike 376, (Beaver Valley Expressway); PA Turnpike 66 (Greensburg Bypass or Amos K. Hutchinson Bypass); and the Gateway tolling point (milepost 2 near Ohio on I-76).

The toll increase — like previous annual increases — is required to meet escalating debt-service costs associated with the PTC’s annual Act 44/Act 89 contributions to the Commonwealth of PA for transit operations and funding for the PTC’s 10-year capital program.

“Since 2009, the commission has increased tolls annually to maintain its aging roads and make good on a funding obligation required by two state laws, Act 44 of 2007 and Act 89 of 2013,” PTC CEO Mark Compton said. “As a result, the commission has delivered $6.6 billion in toll-backed funding to PennDOT in the last dozen years.”

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Last month, the PA Turnpike issued $800 million in subordinate municipal bonds to help fund $900 million in payments to the commonwealth for the 2019 and 2020 fiscal years. A $450 million payment was made June 27 for the commonwealth’s fiscal year ended June 30. By law, these payments support mass transit statewide, with the bulk of funding supporting transit in Philadelphia and Pittsburgh.

“Due to this onerous funding requirement, nearly half of the PA Turnpike’s FY 2020 toll revenue will go to pay debt service alone,” Compton said. “Anticipated toll revenue is estimated at $1.4 billion for the fiscal year, and our debt-service payments are roughly $700 million for the year.”

Compton said the increases will also support the PTC’s 10-year plan to preserve the Turnpike.

“Parts of our tollway turn 79 years old on Oct. 1, and we must continue to invest in our road to make it safer, smoother and wider for customers,” Compton said.

The PTC has reconstructed more than 140 miles of its system, with another 11 miles of roadway being rebuilt and widened and more than 82 miles in planning and design phases. (The PTC does not receive taxpayer appropriations to operate or maintain its roadways.)

As part of ongoing efforts to control costs, Compton noted that the PTC has seen success in limiting the growth in the operating budget and reducing spending in the 10-year capital plan by about $1 billion.

“We are doing what we can to mind our shop and manage costs as we deal with our economic realities,” Compton said. “For the 2019 fiscal year ending May 31st, we’re projecting operating expenses to come in almost $40 million under budget while actual expense growth over the 2018 fiscal year is projected to be less than 1 percent.”

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