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Author Topic: PA Turnpike News  (Read 610256 times)

Crown Victoria

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Re: PA Turnpike News
« Reply #2475 on: June 17, 2020, 05:08:49 AM »

The good news is that, unless something changes, FY 2022 is the last year that the PTC will owe $450 million to PennDOT.  Starting in FY 2023 that payment goes down to $50 million. Of course the debt from over a decade of excessive Act 44 payments will take much longer to be paid off...

I think that is correct on all points.

Finding funding for mass transit is more complex in PA than simply raising the gas tax, and is partly the reason for Act 44 in the first place. In PA, gas taxes, car registration fees, and some other funding sources are constitutionally limited to roads and cannot be used for transit. So, even if a regional gas tax were implemented (which would be a hard sell in a state with the second-highest gas taxes to begin with), those revenues would only be able to go to roads. Act 89 (which partially sunsets the Act 44 transfers in 2022) will use motor vehicle sales taxes to make up the $400 million that the Turnpike will no longer provide. Those are revenues that may need to be made up elsewhere i.e. higher taxes...

My understanding from a friend who is a transit geek (especially SEPTA) is that the prohibition on diversion of fuel taxes away from highways applies to taxes collected at the retail level (pump), but that the prohibition does not apply to taxes collected at the wholesale level.

Virginia passed a large increase in the Commonwealth's motor fuel tax and imposed all of it at the wholesale level for similar  reasons.

The PA Constitution makes no distinction between retail and wholesale gas taxes. The only loophole is the part about safety, which enables the diversion of gas taxes to the State Police (which is itself controversial).
https://www.legis.state.pa.us/cfdocs/legis/LI/consCheck.cfm?txtType=HTM&ttl=00&div=0&chpt=8&sctn=11&subsctn=0

Although our gas taxes are all collected at the wholesale level, they still cannot be used to fund transit, hence the problem with the Turnpike and Act 44 (no prohibition on toll revenue usage=non-tax source of funds).
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MASTERNC

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Re: PA Turnpike News
« Reply #2476 on: July 16, 2020, 04:31:20 PM »

Maybe it's just luck but I seem to be having a ton of E-ZPass billing issues with the Turnpike this month.  I use the North Carolina E-ZPass but also have a New York E-ZPass for travel to that state (my car has been registered to both for years).  I made a trip on July 1 and just noticed that my NC transponder was read (and billed) but I was also charged on my NY account via license plate lookup a week later (transaction times were identical).  I was also overcharged for another trip in the Philly area (the amount didn't even match up to a different axle count, and my return toll was correct). 
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Bitmapped

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Re: PA Turnpike News
« Reply #2477 on: July 17, 2020, 11:56:21 AM »

Maybe it's just luck but I seem to be having a ton of E-ZPass billing issues with the Turnpike this month.  I use the North Carolina E-ZPass but also have a New York E-ZPass for travel to that state (my car has been registered to both for years).  I made a trip on July 1 and just noticed that my NC transponder was read (and billed) but I was also charged on my NY account via license plate lookup a week later (transaction times were identical).  I was also overcharged for another trip in the Philly area (the amount didn't even match up to a different axle count, and my return toll was correct).
It probably read both transponders. I have a WV E-ZPass and always see the license plate shown in records from PA reads.
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briantroutman

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Re: PA Turnpike News
« Reply #2478 on: July 17, 2020, 12:22:59 PM »

For what it’s worth, I have a PTC-issued transponder and have made a number of weekend trips involving various roads in the PTC network and in neighboring states, and I haven’t encountered any misreads or billing errors.
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Rothman

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Re: PA Turnpike News
« Reply #2479 on: July 19, 2020, 08:27:09 PM »

Maybe it's just luck but I seem to be having a ton of E-ZPass billing issues with the Turnpike this month.  I use the North Carolina E-ZPass but also have a New York E-ZPass for travel to that state (my car has been registered to both for years).  I made a trip on July 1 and just noticed that my NC transponder was read (and billed) but I was also charged on my NY account via license plate lookup a week later (transaction times were identical).  I was also overcharged for another trip in the Philly area (the amount didn't even match up to a different axle count, and my return toll was correct).
Two transponders?  Penny wise...
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cpzilliacus

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Re: PA Turnpike News
« Reply #2480 on: July 20, 2020, 03:51:22 AM »

Saw the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission's E-ZPass test site on the I-476 Northeast Extension of the Turnpike.  It spans the Turnpike between the Keyser Avenue interchange (Exit 122) and Clarks Summit (I-81, U.S. 11, U.S. 6) (Exit 131).  I was  not able to safely stop and snap an image, but its appearance was different from other gantries on the PTC network. 

More can be found here.
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MASTERNC

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Re: PA Turnpike News
« Reply #2481 on: July 20, 2020, 10:00:36 AM »

Maybe it's just luck but I seem to be having a ton of E-ZPass billing issues with the Turnpike this month.  I use the North Carolina E-ZPass but also have a New York E-ZPass for travel to that state (my car has been registered to both for years).  I made a trip on July 1 and just noticed that my NC transponder was read (and billed) but I was also charged on my NY account via license plate lookup a week later (transaction times were identical).  I was also overcharged for another trip in the Philly area (the amount didn't even match up to a different axle count, and my return toll was correct).
It probably read both transponders. I have a WV E-ZPass and always see the license plate shown in records from PA reads.

Actually the other transponder wasn't even in the car.  I did receive a reversal the next day, though not before I was hit with $50 of reloads.

Maybe it's just luck but I seem to be having a ton of E-ZPass billing issues with the Turnpike this month.  I use the North Carolina E-ZPass but also have a New York E-ZPass for travel to that state (my car has been registered to both for years).  I made a trip on July 1 and just noticed that my NC transponder was read (and billed) but I was also charged on my NY account via license plate lookup a week later (transaction times were identical).  I was also overcharged for another trip in the Philly area (the amount didn't even match up to a different axle count, and my return toll was correct).
Two transponders?  Penny wise...

When NYC area bridges penalize you significantly for not using their E-ZPass, you hold two accounts.  The NC one allows HOT lane access around DC as well.
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J N Winkler

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Re: PA Turnpike News
« Reply #2482 on: July 20, 2020, 11:30:08 AM »

I suspect these cases of double-billing where the same car is registered to two different transponders under the same interoperability network are the result of license plates receiving priority over transponders in the toll processing control flow.  I wonder what would happen if the license plate number was temporarily changed for the transponder that is not currently being used, so that in-network license plate lookup (if used as an alternative to a read from the transponder being used) lands on the account that is intended to be charged.

This situation is actually another argument for a ban on transponder discrimination since it eliminates the incentive to have multiple transponders from the same interoperability network.
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jeffandnicole

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Re: PA Turnpike News
« Reply #2483 on: July 20, 2020, 03:55:21 PM »

I suspect these cases of double-billing where the same car is registered to two different transponders under the same interoperability network are the result of license plates receiving priority over transponders in the toll processing control flow.  I wonder what would happen if the license plate number was temporarily changed for the transponder that is not currently being used, so that in-network license plate lookup (if used as an alternative to a read from the transponder being used) lands on the account that is intended to be charged.

This situation is actually another argument for a ban on transponder discrimination since it eliminates the incentive to have multiple transponders from the same interoperability network.

License plates are only supposed to be viewed if the tag isn't read when the car goes thru the tolling area.  This process usually take a few days as well to go thru the back office.  There's not enough staff to monitor the hundreds of thousands of tag reads every day.
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Flyer78

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Re: PA Turnpike News
« Reply #2484 on: July 20, 2020, 04:33:11 PM »

Saw the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission's E-ZPass test site on the I-476 Northeast Extension of the Turnpike.  It spans the Turnpike between the Keyser Avenue interchange (Exit 122) and Clarks Summit (I-81, U.S. 11, U.S. 6) (Exit 131).  I was  not able to safely stop and snap an image, but its appearance was different from other gantries on the PTC network. 

More can be found here.

I noticed the northbound side appears to have the extra classification equipment (there are more devices pointed at the lanes) - or perhaps a different product.

It seems an interesting choice, northbound, that they placed a portable message sign in what would be the left lane to remind not to stop (seems like there is ample room at the shoulder, or to use one of the right lanes for such notice). I wonder if they will post overhead signs over each lane or opt for a different system for all lanes that either use the prism or fixed signage. (I assume the LED versions all have been updated with E-Z Pass or TOLL BY PLATE icons).
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MASTERNC

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Re: PA Turnpike News
« Reply #2485 on: July 21, 2020, 10:33:21 AM »

The 6% toll increase and 45% billing surcharge have now been approved.  However, they are taking effect in January (as usual) rather than earlier (as previously reported)

https://liber.post-gazette.com/news/transportation/2020/07/21/Pennsylvania-Turnpike-toll-increase-E-ZPass-Toll-By-Plate-surcharge/stories/202007210058
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J N Winkler

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Re: PA Turnpike News
« Reply #2486 on: July 21, 2020, 10:44:36 AM »

License plates are only supposed to be viewed if the tag isn't read when the car goes thru the tolling area.  This process usually take a few days as well to go thru the back office.  There's not enough staff to monitor the hundreds of thousands of tag reads every day.

Masternc says he did not have the transponder for the North Carolina account in his car when he was charged the "foreign" E-ZPass toll.  This is why I hypothesize they were searching for his license plate number and found it first with the NC account.
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MASTERNC

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Re: PA Turnpike News
« Reply #2487 on: July 21, 2020, 11:26:59 AM »

License plates are only supposed to be viewed if the tag isn't read when the car goes thru the tolling area.  This process usually take a few days as well to go thru the back office.  There's not enough staff to monitor the hundreds of thousands of tag reads every day.

Masternc says he did not have the transponder for the North Carolina account in his car when he was charged the "foreign" E-ZPass toll.  This is why I hypothesize they were searching for his license plate number and found it first with the NC account.

It was the other way around.  The NC tag was in the car and the NY tag was not.  Somehow the toll was charged to the transponder yet was still sent to license plate lookup.
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SignBridge

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Re: PA Turnpike News
« Reply #2488 on: July 21, 2020, 08:55:15 PM »

Life was so damned much simpler before E-Z Pass when we just paid cash and exchanged greetings with the collector........
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cpzilliacus

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Re: PA Turnpike News
« Reply #2489 on: July 22, 2020, 08:34:45 AM »

Life was so damned much simpler before E-Z Pass when we just paid cash and exchanged greetings with the collector........

Also much more expensive.  Staffing toll collection points 24/7/365 is not cheap, and on the Pennsylvania Turnpike there were a lot of them. Collecting, counting, securing, transporting and processing all of that cash is also expensive.
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ixnay

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Re: PA Turnpike News
« Reply #2490 on: July 22, 2020, 08:41:36 AM »

Life was so damned much simpler before E-Z Pass when we just paid cash and exchanged greetings with the collector........

Also much more expensive.  Staffing toll collection points 24/7/365 is not cheap, and on the Pennsylvania Turnpike there were a lot of them. Collecting, counting, securing, transporting and processing all of that cash is also expensive.

I think SignBridge meant for the consumer.  Yes, cpz, what you listed is true - expensive for the agency operating the road or crossing.

But in the COVID-19 era, are we to consider AET a blessing (in disguise or otherwise), since there is no cash to be handled?

ixnay
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jeffandnicole

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Re: PA Turnpike News
« Reply #2491 on: July 22, 2020, 08:54:51 AM »

Life was so damned much simpler before E-Z Pass when we just paid cash and exchanged greetings with the collector........

Also much more expensive.  Staffing toll collection points 24/7/365 is not cheap, and on the Pennsylvania Turnpike there were a lot of them. Collecting, counting, securing, transporting and processing all of that cash is also expensive.

I think SignBridge meant for the consumer.  Yes, cpz, what you listed is true - expensive for the agency operating the road or crossing.

But in the COVID-19 era, are we to consider AET a blessing (in disguise or otherwise), since there is no cash to be handled?

ixnay

I think it's much easier for the consumer as well.  You fly thru a lane and keep going.
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ixnay

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Re: PA Turnpike News
« Reply #2492 on: July 22, 2020, 09:07:31 AM »

Life was so damned much simpler before E-Z Pass when we just paid cash and exchanged greetings with the collector........

Also much more expensive.  Staffing toll collection points 24/7/365 is not cheap, and on the Pennsylvania Turnpike there were a lot of them. Collecting, counting, securing, transporting and processing all of that cash is also expensive.

I think SignBridge meant for the consumer.  Yes, cpz, what you listed is true - expensive for the agency operating the road or crossing.

But in the COVID-19 era, are we to consider AET a blessing (in disguise or otherwise), since there is no cash to be handled?

ixnay

I think it's much easier for the consumer as well.  You fly thru a lane and keep going.

Yes, I know what's that like (as a driver and as a passenger).   "Pay your toll while you roll" - I remember that slogan from a radio spot for Delaware E-ZPasses in the early 2000's.

SignBridge, are you nostalgic also for lonnnnng toll gate backups?  Be careful what you pine for.

ixnay
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1995hoo

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Re: PA Turnpike News
« Reply #2493 on: July 22, 2020, 09:26:39 AM »

I think back to how much time was wasted waiting on line to pay the tolls in the cash-only era. My father's strategy was always to go as far to the right at the toll plaza as possible. Reason: Trucks are almost always directed to stay to the right. There are far fewer trucks per line than there are cars and you often got through faster in those lanes even though trucks are slower to accelerate away than cars are.

Look at what a mess you get when the E-ZPass Only lanes are simply converted cash lanes with no significant barrier separation from the cash lanes. The Tydings Bridge toll plaza in Maryland was long a good example of that, as cash-payers would bomb down the approach to the E-ZPass lanes and then block everyone trying to shove right to cut the line.

Last time we drove to Montreal, I estimated we probably saved 20 minutes to half an hour by using E-ZPass due to some of the toll plazas having fairly long queues.
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jmacswimmer

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Re: PA Turnpike News
« Reply #2494 on: July 22, 2020, 09:41:39 AM »

I think back to how much time was wasted waiting on line to pay the tolls in the cash-only era. My father's strategy was always to go as far to the right at the toll plaza as possible. Reason: Trucks are almost always directed to stay to the right. There are far fewer trucks per line than there are cars and you often got through faster in those lanes even though trucks are slower to accelerate away than cars are.

Look at what a mess you get when the E-ZPass Only lanes are simply converted cash lanes with no significant barrier separation from the cash lanes. The Tydings Bridge toll plaza in Maryland was long a good example of that, as cash-payers would bomb down the approach to the E-ZPass lanes and then block everyone trying to shove right to cut the line.

That was always my exact strategy at the very same Tydings Bridge toll plaza (before I got E-ZPass, anyway).  At least when MDTA recently resurfaced the approach & departure from that toll plaza, they did a better job separating the E-ZPass lanes on approach via lane striping and E-ZPass markers on the pavement - usually those lanes wouldn't get messed up by cash queuing in recent experiences.

(Currently there is none of that mess since MDTA still has yet to resume cash collections, but that's neither here nor there.)
« Last Edit: July 22, 2020, 09:45:44 AM by jmacswimmer »
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vdeane

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Re: PA Turnpike News
« Reply #2495 on: July 22, 2020, 01:13:34 PM »

Life was so damned much simpler before E-Z Pass when we just paid cash and exchanged greetings with the collector........

Also much more expensive.  Staffing toll collection points 24/7/365 is not cheap, and on the Pennsylvania Turnpike there were a lot of them. Collecting, counting, securing, transporting and processing all of that cash is also expensive.

I think SignBridge meant for the consumer.  Yes, cpz, what you listed is true - expensive for the agency operating the road or crossing.

But in the COVID-19 era, are we to consider AET a blessing (in disguise or otherwise), since there is no cash to be handled?

ixnay

I think it's much easier for the consumer as well.  You fly thru a lane and keep going.
From a time saved perspective, perhaps, but it introduces issues.  If you don't have a transponder, you have to hope everything works properly with bill by mail, lest you get late and nonpayment fees (often exorbitant) added on top of your bill by mail and plate lookup surcharges (themselves often on top of a higher bill by mail toll rate).  Even if you do have a transponder, there are often tag deposits and/or annual fees, and transponder discrimination is more common than not.  Back when cash was king, the toll was the toll was the toll - everybody paid the same rate, nothing added on top.  That is unfortunately no longer.  While discounts for transponder users do make sense from the perspective that it costs less to collect tolls from them, it has gotten well out of hand.

This doesn't even go into the issues experienced by drivers of rental cars.
« Last Edit: July 22, 2020, 01:17:31 PM by vdeane »
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SignBridge

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Re: PA Turnpike News
« Reply #2496 on: July 22, 2020, 09:36:00 PM »

Thank you vdeane for those good points! All of you have made good points too. It's worth noting however that some of the time saved on the road with E-Z Pass is lost in other ways.
 
1) Setting up your account, passwords etc.

2) Mounting the device on your car. Having to get new mounting strips when you get a new car.

3) Checking your statement when you receive it. Potential billing errors requiring corrective action, etc.

I was fortunate that most of my long distance toll-road trips thru the years were made mid-week/mid-day so luckily I didn't encounter many toll plaza back-ups, so I don't have those bad memories. And yeah, I have to agree it's nice to just glide thru those express E-Z Pass lanes where they exist. But being an old school kind of guy, I just preferred the older less complicated ways.

 
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seicer

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Re: PA Turnpike News
« Reply #2497 on: July 22, 2020, 09:52:32 PM »

The amount of time I save from not having to stop -one time- at the Throgs Neck Bridge to have my transponder read more than offsets going to a website to set up an account (took 10 minutes with my NY transponder using my mobile device and Lastpass), mounting the EZ Pass in 1 minute and never having to replace the mounting strips (because my car is 4 years old and how often do you replace cars?), and reading my email with my attached statement, which takes all of 1 to 5 minutes (as a frequent user).

I find it less complicated to just drive through at highway speeds than to sit at a toll plaza for 30 minutes, fish for change or dollar bills (or worse, exact change) or wait to have the transponder read before a gate, but your mileage may vary. It is far faster, though, to just use EZ Pass; the other details, such as installing the EZ Pass and going to the website, take so little time to complete.
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jeffandnicole

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Re: PA Turnpike News
« Reply #2498 on: July 22, 2020, 11:05:07 PM »

2) Mounting the device on your car. Having to get new mounting strips when you get a new car.

How much f'ing time does it take you to mount the EZ Pass that this could possibly have been thought of as an excuse?
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ilpt4u

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Re: PA Turnpike News
« Reply #2499 on: July 22, 2020, 11:46:38 PM »

2) Mounting the device on your car. Having to get new mounting strips when you get a new car.

How much f'ing time does it take you to mount the EZ Pass that this could possibly have been thought of as an excuse?
Even if you have to get the Front License Plate mount transponder, due to windshield/car issues with having it inside the glass, it STILL saves time over 1 rush hour wait at a Cash Only booth. It doesn’t take that long to find a screwdriver, unscrew two screws, and then tighten them back down

I remember as a kid, sitting in extremely long holiday waits at the 82nd/83rd St and 163rd St Tolls on ISTHA’s Tri-State. Guess what? Even when Low Speed I-Pass Only lanes were first installed at 82nd/83rd St, and then at 163 St, it made a difference. When the I-Pass Express/ORT conversion occurred, it was a night and day difference compared to Cash only tolling
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