Turnpike Managers Address Rate Hikes

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LACKAWANNA COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) One day after an audit said the Pennsylvania Turnpike is on potentially unstable financial ground — its leaders came to Lackawanna County.
Executives were called to testify about why tolls keep going up every year.
Eyewitness News reporter Eric Deabill was at the hearing

State lawmakers wanted answers Wednesday.

The House Democratic Policy Committee spent more than an hour questioning the top executives of the Pennsylvania Turnpike about why tolls keep going up.

 
“I don’t know how many constituents have come to me and they ask when is this going to stop? It’s just going up and up and up” said Rep Sid Michaels Kavulich (D) 114th District

Turnpike officials say part of the answer is they are now required to pay $450 million a year to PennDOT
They also say there has been a startling increase in the number of people who aren’t paying tolls as they exit the turnpike.

 
“What we ended up writing off this year, this past fiscal year was $5.4 million. What we wrote off the year before that was $3.7 million dollars” Noted Mark Compton, PA Turnpike CEO

Turnpike officials say Pennsylvania laws don’t compare to neighboring states which allow for the registration to be suspended of a repeated toll violator.

Similar legislation is now only under debate in Harrisburg.

 
“The way the legislation is structured right now, if you accumulate six unpaid violations from us we can work to suspend registrations” said Craig Shuey, Turnpike Chief Operating Officer

Lawmakers attending this session agreed more action is needed on their part — and they hope to bring the issue up this fall.

 
“Those that are going thru EZPass and not paying, it’s really robbery so that’s not acceptable” added Rep. Eddie Day Pashinski, (D) 121st District.

Other ideas that were tossed around today included putting the names of toll cheats in the newspaper — or even using local magistrates to try and get some of the money back

Turnpike officials say the number of toll cheats has risen so dramatically — because roughly 75-percent of drivers use EZPass

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