Nearly half of drivers without E-ZPass not being charged turnpike tolls

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PITTSTON TOWNSHIP, LUZERNE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) — Some drivers using the Pennsylvania turnpike are avoiding tolls altogether after a recent change.

That flash of a light, drivers know all too well. It means you’ll have to pay the tolls on the Pennsylvania Turnpike. Or, will you?

“Oh really? Wow, I didn’t know that,” said Frank Esgro.

Esgro pays over two dollars a day to take the Pennsylvania Turnpike to work. He was shocked to hear an internal turnpike report obtained by the Associated Press shows more than 104 million dollars in Pennsylvania Turnpike tolls were uncollected last year. Many say it isn’t fair.

“I mean, yeah. If people are getting away with free tolls when everyone else has to pay. I don’t think that’s right,” said Jeff Falchek a resident of Kingston.

The major issue is the “toll-by-plate” license plate camera system. According to the report, it did not recognize license plates in 1.8 million rides.

We stopped by a toll plaza and only saw the light flash for about 50 percent of the cars.

“I ran through there once and I got a ticket in the mail. I got it cheaper because I had the E-ZPass, but the car I was in didn’t have it,” explained Falchek.

The report showed millions of drivers who do not use E-ZPass have almost a one in two chance of riding through without paying.

Chuck Boswell says he has a 100 percent chance of not paying because he avoids the turnpike altogether.

“I avoid the turnpike if I can. Just like today, I’m on my way to the Poconos, but I’ll take Suscon Road to go up that way to avoid the tolls,” said Boswell.

At the end of the day, the idea was to move to electronic tolling to save the state money. But without toll collectors making sure everyone pays, the question is, are they saving any money at all?

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