Another New Year, Another Turnpike Toll Hike

Summary of Study

The Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission (PTC) increased tolls again in 2021. It has increased tolls annually since 2009 to satisfy a funding requirement under Act 44 of 2007, which was created to provide money for public transit, roads and bridges.  The PTC’s annual commitment is for $450 million with $250 million going toward public transit and the remainder for road and bridge repair.

To make these annual payments to PennDOT, the PTC borrows money each year and pledges toll revenue for repayment, known as mainline debt.  In fiscal 2007, the year the funding bill was passed, total bonds outstanding was just $2.5 billion with only $1.66 billion in mainline debt (67 percent).  As of fiscal 2020 (ending May 31, 2020) the PTC’s total debt has increased to $14.96 billion with $13.43 billion in mainline debt (90 percent). 

Read the full policy report here

Feature Charticle

Allegheny Institute for Public Policy

Findings:

  • On a per vehicle basis, mainline debt has increased from $8.93 in 2007 to $70.51 in 2020—an increase of nearly 700 percent.
  • The number of vehicles using the system has declined since the pandemic commenced.
  • For fiscal 2020, 190.5 million vehicles used the turnpike—an 11 percent decline from fiscal 2019.
  • From June through November 2020, 23.4 percent fewer vehicles used the turnpike than during the same months in 2019.
  • Class 1 passenger vehicles, which account for more 53 percent of the toll revenue, are down 27.3 percent while commercial vehicles (class 2-9) are down just 1.5 percent.
  • The PTC has enacted cost cutting measures, such as the reduction to toll taking staff of 500 employees and a 25 percent cut to capital spending.

Read the full policy report here