PA-Turnpike

HARRISBURG >> The Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission (PTC) on Tuesday, July 6 approved a five percent toll increase for 2022 for both E-ZPass and TOLL BY PLATE customers. The increase is slated to start at 12:01 a.m. on Jan. 2 and will be effective across the entire system except on the Southern Beltway (PA Turnpike 576) west of Pittsburgh.

E-ZPass drivers will continue to receive the lowest toll rates across the PA Turnpike, with some customers saving nearly 60 percent, according to the commission. Non-E-ZPass customers can now download the PA TOLL PAY smartphone app to create an autopay account and receive 15 percent savings on their monthly TOLL BY PLATE invoices.

Like all previous annual increases since 2009, the measure is generally required to meet escalating debt-service costs resulting from the PTC’s payments to the Commonwealth of PA for transit operations under Pennsylvania Acts 44 and 89. This year, however, there is one significant difference: Under those statutes, the PTC plans to make its final annual payment of $450 million later this month.

“Today’s action is the first time in six years that the rate of increase is under six percent,” explained PA Turnpike CEO Mark Compton. “Starting in July 2022, our transit funding requirement to PennDOT under Act 44 of 2007 will be cut to $50 million annually. Finally, we are seeing a light at the end of this very long tunnel. In addition to breathing a huge sigh of relief ourselves, it enables us to begin to offer some relief to customers from those heftier toll increases and refocus on essential improvements to our roadway.”

Beginning in July 2022, the $400 million in annual transit funding that had been provided by the PTC will be funded by the Commonwealth’s Motor Vehicle Sales and Use Tax (MVSUT) as prescribed by Act 89 of 2013.

Act 89, however, does not eliminate the Commission’s debt, future debt service or funding obligation. Even with this much-needed relief, the PTC is still responsible for annual payments to PennDOT of $50 million until June 2057, and it must continue to pay down debt incurred from previous borrowing needed to fund Act 44 payments.

“The Act 44 sunsetting spelled out in Act 89 of 2013 is critical if the PTC is to remain fiscally sound as an organization and for the economic vitality of Turnpike-connected communities,” Compton explained. “But it’s important for customers understand that, even with the reduced obligation, we are still looking at annual toll increases of 5 percent from through 2025, 4 percent in 2026, 3.5 percent in 2027, then 3 percent annually from 2028 to 2050.”

Because of borrowing required by the Act 44 funding plan, the PTC currently has annual Act 44 debt-service obligations of nearly $400 million. Due to the terms of these bonds, the PTC’s Act 44 debt service will continue to rise even though borrowing has ended. Act 44 debt service will grow to an annual maximum of nearly $600 million by 2038 before it starts to decrease.

Because of today’s action, the most-common toll for a passenger vehicle next year will increase from $1.60 to $1.70 for E-ZPass customers and from $3.90 to $4.10 for TOLL BY PLATE customers. The most common toll for a Class-5 tractor trailer will increase from $13 to $13.70 for E-ZPass and from $26.60 to $28 for TOLL BY PLATE. The cashless toll for a passenger vehicle at the westbound Delaware River Bridge will increase from $6.10 to $6.50 for E-ZPass customers and from $8.20 to $8.70 for those who use PA Turnpike TOLL BY PLATE.

The PTC also approved the toll-rate schedule for the opening of the Southern Beltway slated for October. Tolls for the Southern Beltway will include the application of the 45 percent additional charge that is in place on the Turnpike system. However, there will be no January 2022 toll increase for the Southern Beltway.

The PTC first started making Act 44 payments to PennDOT in August 2007. It has increased tolls annually since 2009, providing $7.45 billion in toll-backed funding to PennDOT in 14 years.

After the 2022 increase is applied, E-ZPass and TOLL BY PLATES rates for both passenger and commercial vehicles will round up to the next dime. The PTC will post a 2022 trip calculator and toll schedule online this fall. Visit https://www.paturnpike.com/toll/tollmileage.aspx.

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