Portions of the Pennsylvania Turnpike are using cashless tolling plazas to try and speed up the commute with plans to implement the toll by plate system across the turnpike by 2022.
Target 11 took a look at the toll by plate billing and found out a lot of drivers are simply skipping the payment.
The Turnpike began cashless tolling on the Delaware River Bridge in 2016. Since then, they've converted three other toll roads including Beaver Valley and the Findlay Connector. There are plans to convert the bypass near Greensburg and the Gateway Toll Plaza at the Ohio Border this year.
The Turnpike mailed out 2.7 million toll by plate invoices last year and nearly a third of them, 833,000, remain unpaid. We showed the numbers to the state auditor general, who raised this issue in an audit.
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"It's staggering because everyone that is following the rules is subsidizing the people that aren't following the rules," said Eugene DePasquale. "They're getting the benefits of the road, all those projects. It's unbelievable."
Prompted by the auditor general's report, just last summer the state legislature changed the law to allow the turnpike to suspend the registration of Pennsylvania drivers with six or more violations totaling $500. However, they have little or no enforcement powers when it comes to those out of state drivers.
"Anyone that lives in, whether it's Ohio or West Virginia, they can just blow through it and there's right now no recourse," said DePasquale. "We have to have agreements with other states."
Turnpike spokesman Carl DeFebo says there are options available for the turnpike to get the money. One way would be turning over the bill to a collection agency. He says the turnpike has successfully gone after some trucking companies in New Jersey that agreed to set up payment plans. DeFebo says they've tried to work out agreements with other states to pursue violators, but it's difficult because the penalties vary from state to state. That includes Ohio, just an hour's drive away from the Pittsburgh area.
The auditor general is urging the turnpike to strike agreements with other states giving them the power to revoke licenses or registrations of drivers who refuse to pay.
Cox Media Group