Oct. 26, 2022
HARRISBURG – Rep. Ryan Warner’s (R-Fayette/Westmoreland) initiative to better protect consumers who travel the Pennsylvania Turnpike is now on its way to the governor’s desk.
The measure would require the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission (PTC) to notify an E-ZPass account holder the first time the person incurs a v-toll in a calendar year. V-tolls are assessed when a driver’s E-ZPass transponder is not detected as their vehicle enters or exits the turnpike or travels through a toll plaza. In 2021, more than 200,000 Pennsylvanians were charged v-tolls.
“This is about ensuring drivers who use the Turnpike are treated fairly and alerted if v-tolls are assessed on their account,” Warner said. “Too many drivers weren’t even aware they were being penalized, and they deserve better.”
Under the bill, the notice would include information about proper placement of the E-ZPass transponder, 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.
The bill would decrease the threshold at which penalties can be assessed against drivers who don’t pay. 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 also 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.
Finally, the PTC would 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.
Warner introduced House Bill 2139
late last year after an investigative report by WPXI’s Angie Moreschi highlighted the large number of v-tolls being assessed to drivers who were unaware of the fees. His bill passed the House unanimously this spring and was then amended into House Bill 1486
, which passed both the House and Senate this week and is now on the governor’s desk awaiting signature. If it becomes law, the Turnpike portion of the bill would take effect in 60 days.
Representative Ryan Warner
52nd Legislative District
Pennsylvania House of Representatives