The Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission aims to go all-electronic by 2018, meaning drivers no longer would be able to pay with cash at toll plazas along the 545-mile highway.
Turnpike spokesman Carl DeFebo said about 72 percent of drivers using the highway already use E-ZPass. He anticipates this move would send that above 80 percent.
DeFebo said it costs about 20 cents to process a transaction involving E-ZPass, compared to $1 for drivers using cash.
An E-ZPass device costs $38, with $35 of that going into a driver’s account to pay tolls. Rates are also lower for EZ Pass users.
“The different prices are always going to reflect that. So, toll costs for E-ZPass will always be less in the foreseeable future for EZ Pass because that’s the cheapest way we can collect the toll,” said DeFebo.
Drivers would not be required to get E-ZPass to travel on the Turnpike. Instead, cameras will go up that will snap a picture of a driver’s license plate. A bill will then be mailed to that driver. Failure to pay results in a fine.
The Turnpike employs about 800 people to man the various toll plazas.
“We can’t say right now that there won’t be layoffs, but we’d like to absorb as much of that workforce as possible, or help them get training or jobs in other agencies,” said DeFebo.
The Turnpike has hired HNTB Corporation to study the necessary engineering and construction work that would be needed to make the change.
DeFebo called it the largest change to the highway since it opened in 1940.