PA Turnpike Commission Makes Cashless Tolling Permanent, Slashing 500 Jobs
Harrisburg, PA – The Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission (PTC) announced on Tuesday its plan to make permanent the cashless system created earlier this year to “minimize the spread of the COVID-19 virus.”
PTC said there will be no return to cash collections on the Pennsylvania Turnpike system.
Customers on the Turnpike will move through the lanes at posted speeds without stopping.
On March 16, amid the COVID-19 pandemic, PTC instituted the All-Electronic Tolling (AET) system.
In a news release on Tuesday announcing PTC’s decision to make the AET system permanent, PTC’s CEO, Mark Compton said cashless tolling would mitigate “dangers” and “risk.”
“Ceasing cash collections in March to protect employees and customers was the right decision,” Compton stated. “But we did not know then how severe the impact would be; with the associated dangers, we cannot risk returning to cash collections. AET continues to be the best choice for our customers and this organization’s future.”
Additionally, PTC said reverting to a hybrid cash/electronic system at this point “could put customers and employees at higher risk of accident and injury,” since “drivers are now accustomed to traveling through toll plazas without stopping.”
According to PTC, when a collector tests positive, “the interchange must be shut down, leaving gaps in the Turnpike’s ticket-and-cash collections system.”
“If one interchange is closed, the entire ticket system must be shut down. It doesn’t work any other way,” Compton explained. “We cannot operate under these circumstances now, and we must look ahead to the fall with a chance this pandemic might return. There is simply too much uncertainty.”
Tolls will be assessed via E-ZPass, or a PA Turnpike “TOLL BY PLATE” invoice will be sent via mail.
PTC also said the decision will lead to the layoff of approximately 500 employees.
A majority of the employees who will be laid off are toll collectors and fare-collection personnel.
According to Compton, traffic “plummeted because of the pandemic” by almost 50% since March compared to 2019.
Additionally, toll revenues dropped by more than $100 million for the fiscal year ended May 31.
Photo courtesy PTC