Categories Op/Ed

Letter to the Editor: Turnpike Toll Increases Get Applied to Legacy Rates

Your article “Pa. Turnpike Tolls Rising 6%” in the Jan. 4 edition of The Elizabethtown Advocate provoked me to take action to learn how this would affect me in my wallet. The definition of a toll is a tax or fee paid for some liberty or privilege (as of passing over a highway or bridge. For many people the mention of a tax increase of any kind incites them to anger. It makes them upset or annoyed that the government is always increasing their taxes. My interest is what will it cost me. What is a 6% tax increase. So I jumped in my car and drove up to the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission located at 700 S. Eisenhower Blvd., Middletown. It is a palatial building located alongside the 247 Harrisburg East Toll Plaza. I signed in at the security desk and was directed to the receptionist. I explained to her why I was there and that I wanted to speak to someone who could explain the 2018 6% toll increase. She told me to wait while she dialed a number to get someone to help me. I patiently waited and soon a gracious government official, an employee of the PTC, introduced himself and ask how he could help me. I showed him the article from The Advocate. We conversed briefly then he went back to his administrative office to get two toll schedules one for 2018 and a previous one for 2016. He did not have a 2017 toll schedule. He also gave me a one-page explanation, prepared by an engineer, of how toll rates have evolved over the years.

“Turnpike mainline toll rates were initially developed based on a per mile basis. However, there have been three principal factors that have resulted in differing per mile toll rates over time, including: “1. Urban versus rural tolling.

“2. Minimum toll.

“3. Toll rounding of toll increases.

“The effect of the above three components have contributed to the rate structure now in place on the Pennsylvania Turnpike. There is no longer a formula or calculation to describe the rates currently in place. Rather, annual toll increases are simply applied to legacy rates that have evolved over time as a result of the initial urban/rural toll structure, minimum toll requirements, and annual toll rounding business rules.”

The PTC can be contacted at the Central Administration Building by calling 1-717-939-9551 or on their Web Site, www.paturnpike.com.

I often travel from 247 Harrisburg East Toll Plaza to Pittsburgh Exit Number 57 which in 2018 will cost me $18.97 as an E-Z Pass user Class 1 Passenger Car. The cash rate for the same trip is $26.75 as a Class 1 Passenger Car. There is a handy Toll Calculator at https://www.paturnpike.com/toll/tollmileage.aspx. $18.97 x 6 % = approximately $1.15 over last year’s cost. Is it enough to become an irate taxpayer over? That is a question you will have to answer for yourself. The one good thing about this tax is, that if you don’t use the Turnpike to travel on you won’t get a bill from the PTC. Happy New Year in 2018 and safe travels.

ROBERT YAHARA

Elizabethtown

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