All of the nickels and dimes building up in your car’s cupholders are about to become obsolete, as the Pennsylvania Turnpike has revealed a plan to become cashless by the fall of 2021.
According to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, the project to eliminate all cash-driven tolls on the turnpike will cost $129 million and take approximately two years to complete. Once the project is completed, 600 jobs will be eliminated, as toll collectors and toll auditors will potentially be moved into new roles within the system.
“As I sit here today, the pilot phase is behind us,” turnpike CEO Mark Compton stated in a recent interview. “The goal is to have the system completely cashless by the fall of 2021.”
As it stands, tolls on the turnpike tend to lose money, as some drivers blow past them and refuse to pay the bills later sent to their homes. More E-ZPass and Toll By Plate transactions should make the turnpike more financially viable.
It’s an open secret that the turnpike has been testing cashless tolling for several years now and even began testing them at the Gateway Plaza and Turnpike Route 66 a week ago. In fact, a majority of the news items on the Pennsylvania Turnpike’s website detail attempts to add cashless tolling to more and more locations.
The Post-Gazette reports that some toll booths will continue to be utilized through 2026 in an attempt to record E-ZPass transponder signals and take license plate photos so vehicles passing through illegally can be billed later. Meanwhile, 43 new overhead gantries will be installed on the mainline, with roads eventually being redesigned and toll booths being removed altogether.
Plans are in place to assist the 600 people who may find themselves out of a job by the fall of 2021. Some will be offered new positions. Others will take advantage of an opportunity to receive up to $5,250 a year in tuition credits, which can be used for job training within the turnpike industry, the state or other careers. Turnpike employment will be cut from 1,900 jobs to 1,300 jobs.
“We’d rather have our people working… But they did look out for them by offering training,” said Dan Kozel, a Teamsters Local 250 agent who represents western Pennsylvania toll collectors, to The Post-Gazette.