BEAR CREEK TOWNSHIP, LUZERNE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU-TV) — The Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission said Tuesday it will lay off hundreds of toll collectors and make the cashless tolling system permanent. The turnpike switched to all-electronic tolling in March because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“It’s sad for them, you know? Especially the way our economy is now, especially with the pandemic people are losing their jobs left and right,” truck driver Joe Clancy said.
The Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission voted Tuesday to lay off 500 fare collectors and other toll workers and make the entire interstate network a cashless system. The PA Turnpike stopped accepting cash in mid-March to protect employees and customers from COVID-19.
“It was fully intended to be a temporary condition. However, with AET already our goal for the future the decision to accelerate makes sense when faced with this extended pandemic and all its uncertainty,” Turnpike Commission CEO Mark Compton said.
From now on, when you hop on the Turnpike, you will drive through at the posted speed limit without stopping. If you don’t have an EZ pass, you will receive an invoice in the mail.
“My personal vehicle I don’t have an EZ pass. They bill you three weeks in the mail. It’s not a big deal. But I do know a lot of people that are scared to do it,” Clancy said.
Clancy says a lot of people are scared the bills will get lost in the mail.
“Or they are afraid a bunch of them are going to build up and they are going to get hit with a big bill,” Clancy said.
But other travelers say it’s a great idea.
“Wonderful. I think it’s an absolute great idea. I think it’s the best idea for traveling. You save on your time, you don’t create huge lines,” Lana Gekht of New York said.
Turnpike officials say all-electronic tolling is meant to protect employees and customers from COVID-19 and to reduce traffic accidents.
“Drivers are now accustomed to traveling through toll plaza’s without stopping and returning to a hybrid system could put customers and employees at high risk at accident and injury,” Compton said.
The layoffs will begin June 18th. The commission says some health benefits will remain in place for two years.