A toll both on the PA Turnpike.(Photo by Doug Kerr, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons/City & State Pa.).
A bill to address lost Pennsylvania Turnpike revenues, and increase consumer E-ZPass transparency, passed the House Transportation Committee this week in a unanimous vote.
The bill, HB 2139, which was introduced last November by state Rep. Ryan Warner, R-Fayette, glided through the 25-member committee on Tuesday.
The bill would address E-ZPass drivers’ complaints of being issued more expensive V-tolls, or video tolls when their E-ZPass transponder isn’t scanned at the toll plaza by requiring the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission (PTC) to notify an E-ZPass account holder the first time the person incurs a v-toll in a calendar year.
In addition to the notification, the turnpike commission would need to provide account holders with “information about proper placement of the device, replacement of the device and notification that failure to correct the issue with the device may result in additional v-tolls and administrative fees,” a statement from Warner explains.
V-tolls can be issued for a variety of reasons, including a dead transponder battery, another technical malfunction or not having the transponder in the vehicle or in a place where it can be easily scanned.
In 2021 alone, more than 200,000 Pennsylvanians were charged v-tolls.
“Consumers who choose to use the turnpike are paying higher tolls and now higher gas prices,” Warner said. “The least we can do is show these drivers enough respect to be transparent when there is a device malfunction that leads to unexpected charges so they can correct the issue and save their money.”
Warner also noted that the bill is a way to address the issue of uncollected tolls, which have cost the commission millions of dollars in lost revenue since the turnpike made the switch to all-electronic tolling in June 2020.
“This bill will help identify issues and provide some tools to at least reduce the volume of unpaid tolls that ultimately overburden other drivers,” Warner said.
The bill also would require the turnpike commission to provide an annual collections report to the General Assembly and conduct a feasibility study on third-party accounts, such as Apple Pay and Venmo.
The bill is now waiting for a floor vote.
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