Auditor General Releases Audit On Turnpike Commission’s Toll Collections

BEAR CREEK -- The Pennsylvania Auditor General called for the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission to do more to go after toll cheats after he released a report that shows problems with its toll collections.

It comes after a Newswatch 16 investigation into toll cheats from last year.

When the turnpike first rolled out EZ-Pass lanes along the Pennsylvania Turnpike, it was a big improvement for drivers. They could roll right through the toll both without waiting to pay cash.

But last year, our investigation revealed the turnpike is losing millions of dollars to some drivers who slip through the EZ-Pass lane without paying. On Tuesday, the auditor general released an audit showing almost the same thing.

“Though the turnpike commission has an extensive, multi-level process involving multiple collection agencies to try to collect unpaid tolls and fees, it lacks the authority to deter drivers from skipping out on tolls,” Auditor General DePasquale said.

Last year, the turnpike wrote off $3.7 million in tolls as uncollectable, frustrating drivers who do pay.

“It annoys me. I think they should go get them! I pay. Why shouldn't they?” said one driver.

Perhaps the biggest problem, according to that new audit, is that state law does not allow the turnpike to aggressively go after toll cheats, compared to some other states.

“What the General Assembly needs to do is provide the authority to suspend a Pennsylvania vehicle’s registration until outstanding tolls and fees are paid," added DePasquale.

In Maryland, the licenses of habitual toll cheats could be suspended. New Jersey posts an annual shame list of the worst offenders. But here in Pennsylvania, the law doesn't allow the turnpike to do any of that. In fact, as it stands, the law actually prohibits the turnpike from releasing the names and businesses of toll offenders.

“Something needs to be done in respect to EZ-Pass violators,” said State Rep. Mike Carroll (D).

He supports a bill that's making its way through Harrisburg. It would suspend the registration of habitual toll violators, which is also one of the auditor general's recommendations. The other is for the turnpike to publish the names of the worst toll violators. Representative Carroll supports both.

“I believe that that would be a step in the direction of making sure people would pay their fair share in respect to tolls,” he said.

Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission Chairperson Sean Logan issued a statement Tuesday, saying in part, "We look forward to working with the auditor as well as the legislature to secure passage of meaningful tolling enforcement legislation that will allow all tolling agencies in the state to make sure motorists pay their fair share."

6 comments

  • David Scheeler

    I believe that Ohio and Indiana have gates at all their toll booth.s lanes. Yes it does slow traffic flow but not to a great extent.. Obviously this would not be a workable solution for the “Fast pass” lanes at the Delaware Water Gap. The commission might want to look into how Florida administers their toll fees as they have many toll toads that do not have tollbooths. Same goes for the Express lanes near Washington DC.
    I’m in full support of making the cheats/law breakers pay even for first time offenders. Revoke their drivers license, registration and escalating late fees. I don’t think that posting a “Shame List” as by their action, these offenders have no morals.

  • I Am The Antipope

    I got an idea, put gates on the ezpass lanes..
    Stop having expass only exits and allow cash.

    Or better yet, abolish the Turnpike and have it paid for like any other interstate roads.

  • Rick

    The biggest toll cheats reside in Filthadelphia who get to use the turnpike the rest of the state pays for for FREE!. There is no toll booth to collect anything until you’re far west the city.

  • Les

    Hahahaha!!!!
    The government is claiming to have been robbed!!!! Shocking!
    Try living like a taxpayer Harrisburg!!!!

    • john williams

      Maybe if they did some cost cutting to reduce fares to a reasonable charge people wouldnt cheat it. How many PA government and municipal leaders are on that list????

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