The amount of uncollected tolls on the Pennsylvania Turnpike has increased by nearly 50%, an internal study reveals.
The study found that more than $155 million in tolls had not been collected in the last year as of May 2022, and a new government audit calls on the Turnpike Commission to fix the problem and make changes to improve their finances.
Toll losses on the toll highway were expected in 2020 when the toll highway converted to all-cash collections, forcing the layoff of hundreds of toll collectors and auditors, but the loss of 6, 5% of all transactions was higher than expected. While many vehicles use E-ZPasses to navigate the toll road, and there are cameras to collect license plate information from those that don’t, there are issues with obscured plates. or discolored, resulting in system outages and uncollected tolls. Officials attribute the recent increase in lost tolls to increased traffic and higher tolls in general.
Turnpike General Manager Mark Compton said in a written response that his agency is “actively engaged with the Legislative Assembly, PA State Police and surrounding toll agencies to ensure we take all possible measures to collect”.
The auditor general’s office is urging the toll highway board to end free rides on the toll highway for its employees and contractors, except when on duty. The auditor general’s office says that these employees and their free toll rides have cost $3.2 million over the past three years, and that the cost of free toll rides for contractors and consultants has gone up from 5, $9 million in 2015-18 to $8.4 million in 2018-21, the audit says.
“The Tollway said they consider these people to be on call 24/7, but given their current financial situation, it only makes sense to use it while you’re working. “said April Hutcheson, Director of Communications for Auditor General Tim DeFoor. Thursday, AP News reported.
A recently proposed bill would allow the tollway to have PennDOT issue a license suspension to drivers with at least $250 in unpaid tolls. The Turnpike thinks that would add more than 23,000 more suspensions in Pennsylvania. The bill has already passed the House and is currently pending before the State Senate. Auditors believe the potential law “should help increase the commission’s collection of unpaid tolls and potentially deter motorists from becoming toll violators.”
Auditors also recommend that state police focus on obstructed or illegible license plates and investigate why so many license plates do not have valid billing addresses. Turnpike management says it supports these ideas.
“The more tools we have at our disposal, the better,” Turnpike spokesman Carl DeFebo said.