LOWER SWATARA TOWNSHIP, DAUPHIN COUNTY, Pa. - The Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission is in the middle of a lawsuit with a trucking company over what their toll money is being used for. Because of this lawsuit, the commission has not made its last three payments to PennDOT, which has transportation agencies like Capital Area Transit worrying about the future.
Every time you travel on the turnpike, you pay a toll. That money used to be used strictly for turnpike maintenance but, Act 44 in 2007, then Act 89 in 2014 mandated that the Turnpike Commission pay PennDOT $450 million a year, about half of the commission's yearly revenue.
"Neither you nor I would run our households that way," said Mark Compton, Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission CEO. "But that's what we are left to deal with at the commission."
While the commissioner has missed its last three payments to PennDOT, they say it's not because they don't have the money but because they are in a lawsuit. The lawsuit questions whether it's legal to use turnpike toll money for non-turnpike projects.
"As far as a timeline for the lawsuit, our attorneys tell us it's could be Monday or when my 9-year-old graduates high school," said Compton. 'So it's a really wait and see mode right now."
Without those payments to PennDOT, transportation agencies are worried about the future. Capital Area Transit, serving Cumberland and Dauphin Counties receives about $8 million a year. Without that money, over time they will struggle.
"We'd have to reduce our number of buses," said Bob Philbin, CAT Director of Public Information. "Increasing maintenance issues, and cut service longterm."
On top of the current lawsuit, transportation agencies are also worried about a sunset clause in Act 89. In 2023, the turnpike commission's annual payments to PennDOT are set to decrease from $450 million a year to $50 million a year until the end of 2057.