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Plan to collect turnpike tolls from non-payers

The problem of unpaid turnpike tolls is getting worse. Much worse.

But state legislators are in no hurry to do anything about it. They don’t care that many honest drivers are gouged out with higher tolls to cover tolls that deadbeats don’t pay. please think about it.

According to a recent report, the Turnpike was expected to cost $155 million from April 2021 to March 2022. This is up from his $104 million the year before.

The Turnpike Commission says more people are using the toll roads and tolls are rising, resulting in more uncollected tolls. The reason why it becomes more and more tough is The toll increase will take place annually for the next 28 years..

Higher tolls are required to pay off the debt the Turnpike unjustly had to incur under state law. Part of Turnpike’s funds diverted to PennDOT For road construction and transportation.

Current toll collection efforts are clearly inadequate. Admittedly, it’s a difficult problem to solve. But with a little creativity and a rigorous attitude, progress can be made.

A few years ago, the Turnpike became the first toll station in the country to file criminal charges for theft. We need to be more proactive in that regard.

Laws that might otherwise help are on the way to the goal. In May, the Legislature unanimously passed a bill requiring PennDOT to suspend the registration of any vehicle with at least four unpaid tolls in the past five years or a total of $250 or more in unpaid tolls.

Current law sets the bar high for a suspension, with at least 6 unpaid tolls in the last 3 years, or at least $500 in total unpaid tolls.

Approximately 24,000 vehicles in Pennsylvania will be subject to deregistration if the law takes effect today.

The state senator fled Harrisburg. very long summer vacation However, without voting on the bill. Senators should return to next week’s session and make this a priority.

Unfortunately, even the suspension of registration isn’t enough to drive many deadbeats into paying.

An audit released by state auditors a few weeks ago said, as of April, drivers whose registrations were suspended owed more than $26 million in tolls and fees.

“The substantial amount of uncollected tolls and fees reflects that the current legal mechanism for deregistration may not have had the desired impact on collections,” the audit said.

In other words, many deadbeats don’t care.

If you can walk through toll gates without paying and ignore bills and collection notices, then you can drive an unregistered vehicle.

Now let’s up the ante.

The Inspector General made several recommendations. Two are the most promising.

enact a law prohibiting the transfer of vehicle ownership if there is an unpaid toll associated with the vehicle; Ohio passed legislation to do just that earlier this year.

That means deadbeats can’t sell their cars. That means you probably won’t be able to buy a new car.

▪ Enact legislation to allow lottery winnings and state tax refunds to be seized and unpaid tolls collected. I think there are many people who are looking forward to the return every year. States should start looking forward too.

Here’s a third option I’d add — deduct unpaid tolls from unemployment compensation.

terrible? yes. Those who claim to be unemployed are probably having a hard time. But they had the opportunity to pay what they owed while they were working. It takes a tough stance like this to lick the issue and send the message that unpaid tolls are unacceptable.

Uncollected tolls expected to rise after Turnpike Commission Abolished toll booths that accepted cash payments 2020.

Asking out-of-state mockers to pay can be especially difficult. Pennsylvania has no power over them. Reciprocal agreements are being negotiated with neighboring countries, and the home country will punish them. But so far, only one agreement has been reached for her with Delaware. And it’s not implemented.

According to a recent Turnpike report, 93.5% of tolls are collected and 86.7% are automatically paid with E-ZPass. Non-E-ZPass users will be billed by mail based on their license plate.

About 14% of non-E-ZPass tolls cannot be collected because the license plate was illegible (faded, not captured by camera, or blocked by trailers, bike racks, etc.). Or because the address was not found or the invoice was returned as undeliverable.

About 35% of invoices are simply ignored by recipients for at least 150 days.

Turnpike is expanding options for people to pay their bills.

Earlier this year, customers pay cash in store 7-Eleven, CVS, Dollar General, Family Dollar, Royal Farms, Rutter’s, Sheetz, Speedway, Walgreens and more.

The commission said it plans to soon accept payments via QR codes, Apple Pay, Google Pay, Zelle, Venmo, and other digital platforms.

More options are useful for some drivers.But more options won’t shake the payout the worst mocker Because they are never going to pay. That is why more stringent collection efforts are needed.

Wake Up Call columnist Paul Mastic can be reached at 610-820-6582 or paul.muschick@mcall.com.

https://www.mcall.com/opinion/mc-opi-pennsylvania-turnpike-unpaid-tolls-muschick-20220917-bvmsgjfzl5br3accpmlgc42gbm-story.html#ed=rss_www.mcall.com/arcio/rss/category/news/pennsylvania/ Plan to collect turnpike tolls from non-payers

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