3/18/2006Pennsylvania Cashes In on Toll Skipping
The Pennsylvania Turnpike turns $2.3 million in skipped tolls into $9.5 million in revenue.
The Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission has no problem with people who don't pay to use the road. That's because for every $1 in skipped tolls, the Commission makes $4.13 in revenue. The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review calculated that the 787,186 who drove through a toll booth last year without a payment registering on the E-ZPass system or without dropping coins in a basket ultimately paid $9.5 million in inflated fees charged by the Commission. The first fee for non-payment is $25 on top of the original toll. Amounts continue to increase if not paid within a certain period.
The Commission charged $3 million in expenses to recover $2.3 million in unpaid tolls and still brought in a net profit of $4.2 million from the non-payers. Less than one-half of a percent of toll users are labeled "cheaters" by the Commission.
The Pennsylvania Turnpike runs for 530 miles and generated $545 million in annual revenue. The cross-state toll amount for passenger cars is $19.75 and the largest commercial truck must add $794 to the cost of his delivery for full use of the road.
Some turnpike drivers say the problem is just another sign that traveling on the toll highway should be free. "I just believe that the commonwealth has been squeezing us the taxpayers way too hard for way too long with very little to show for all our tax money," said James Betras, a turnpike user from Jeannette, Westmoreland County.Source: Toll cheats rarely win (Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, 3/18/2006)
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