My little family spent the past few days in Philadelphia, unfortunately for sad reasons as there was a death in our family, but on our way home on Sunday, we noticed a pretty major change to the Pennsylvania Turnpike tolls. Some portions of the Pennsylvania Turnpike have gone cashless.

What does 'cashless' mean? It means that there are no more coin baskets or collectors at several of the toll locations. But it doesn't mean that you get to pass through for free. Instead, cash (and coin) will no longer be accepted at the tolls on the Findlay Connector section of the Southern Beltway in Washington and Allegheny counties and closer to home, at the Clarks Summit and Keyser Avenue tolls in Lackawanna County on the Northeastern Extension. These changes went into effect on Sunday, April 29th.

If you've got an E-Z-Pass, you'll continue to drive through the tolls as you normally do. If you don't have an E-ZPass, you'll drive through the toll without stopping and as you pass through, an image of your license plate will be captured. Then, PennDOT will send a bill to the registered owner of the vehicle by mail.

In a press release, Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission CEO Mark Compton said,

Agencies across the country are introducing cashless systems, and we owe it to customers to continue to use the best technology available in every facet of our operations. We manage more than 550 miles of roadway serving rural areas as well as major urban centers, so we want to be sure cashless tolling makes sense for all of our customers.

The same press release listed the benefits of the Pennsylvania Turnpike transitioning to a cashless system as:

  • enhanced toll-plaza safety — no swerving to find the correct lane;
  • reduced congestion and travel times;
  • reduced footprint, emissions, noise and light;
  • reduced cost and disruption to build new interchanges; and
  • reduced long-term capital and operating costs.

With the adoption of the cashless tolling system comes a toll rate increase at Clarks, Keyser, and Findlay, all of which did not experience a toll rate increase in January of 2018 as other toll locations did.

As we were coming up on Clarks Summit, I saw a sign that the toll price was $.90 for vehicles with EZ-Pass and $2.00 for vehicles without. It would seem that if you frequently travel the Pennsylvania Turnpike and are able to get an EZ-Pass, it will be cheaper for you in the long run. See the new Turnpike toll rates here and if you don't have an EZ-Pass, find out more about the program and how to get one here.

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