– Rep. Ryan Warner’s (R-Fayette/Westmoreland) bill to better protect consumers who travel the Pennsylvania Turnpike has been approved by the House Transportation Committee.
Warner introduced the measure in response to reports of consumers being charged v-tolls without their knowledge. V-tolls are issued to customers when their E-ZPass transponder is not detected when the vehicle enters or exits the turnpike or travels through a toll plaza. 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.”
House Bill 2139
would require PTC to notify an E-ZPass account holder the first time the person incurs a v-toll in a calendar year. The notice would include 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. The commission would also have to establish a process to appeal v-tolls.
In addition to addressing the v-toll issue, the bill also makes several other changes to improve toll collection and increase penalties against drivers who either don’t pay or evade tolls.
“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.
To help the commission address drivers who don’t pay tolls, the bill would decrease the threshold at which penalties can be assessed. A driver’s vehicle registration could be suspended after four unpaid tolls, rather than the current six, and after $250 in unpaid tolls instead of the current $500. The statute of limitations to collect an unpaid toll is increased from three to five years after the violation was committed.
With regard to existing criminal penalties for fare evasion, the bill would make technical updates to reflect the move toward cashless tolling and clarify what constitutes affirmative action by a driver to evade paying turnpike tolls.
The bill would require the PTC to conduct a feasibility study to review third-party processing and transaction accounts for toll collection, such as Apple Pay and Venmo, as well as electronic push notifications to E-ZPass holders within 24 hours of a transaction.
The PTC would also be required to produce an annual report to the General Assembly summarizing collected and uncollected toll revenues for the previous fiscal year, projected collected and uncollected toll revenues for the previous fiscal year, and reasons for uncollected toll revenues.
The bill is pending consideration by the full House.
Representative Ryan Warner
52nd Legislative District
Pennsylvania House of Representatives
Media Contact: Patricia Hippler