‘Win’ for Turnpike customers: Governor signs E-ZPass transparency legislation

HARRISBURG, Pa. — Legislation introduced in response to a Channel 11 Investigation was signed into law today by Gov. Tom Wolf.

The new law is called a “win” for Turnpike customers and government transparency. It requires the Turnpike to notify E-ZPass customers when they get a $10 penalty fee called a v-toll, charged when their transponder fails to register going through a toll plaza.

Our investigation exposed that tens of thousands of E-ZPass customers over multiple years were hit with the charges, but the Turnpike never notified customers about them (before our reports), despite first claiming they did.

Over the past year, dozens of customers contacted Channel 11 saying they were surprised to discover they were hit with the $10 penalty charges but had no idea until seeing our stories.

Government Transparency

One of those customers was State Rep. Ryan Warner of Fayette County, who told us he was outraged by the Turnpike’s lack of transparency.

He introduced the E-ZPass transparency legislation last December in response to our investigation.

Last week, the state house and senate passed the legislation unanimously as part of HB 1486.

Investigator Angie Moreschi talked with him today after getting word that the governor signed the legislation into law:

ANGIE MORESCHI: Why is that so important?

ST. REP. WARNER: It’s extraordinarily important because people do not know that they’re being charged with these fees. And it’s important (because) if the government charges you for something — whether it’s a tax, fee, or anything else — you, as a citizen, have every right to know and understand why.

ANGIE MORESCHI: Did our investigation make a difference here?

ST. REP. WARNER: Absolutely. Your investigation brought this to light. It’s what made the legislation possible. I will fully admit that I was not aware of what a v-toll was. I don’t think most of us — most Turnpike users — knew what a v-toll was until you did this report.

ANGIE MORESCHI: So, you chalk this one up as a win.

ST. REP. WARNER: This is a big win for consumers of the Turnpike. It’s a win for residents of Pennsylvania, and it’s a win for government transparency.

Notifications underway

The new legislation will require the Turnpike to notify customers when they get their first $10 penalty v-toll in a calendar year, explain what could have caused it (like an old transponder or being mounted incorrectly), and explain how to fix it.

Now that the governor has signed the bill, the law will take effect in 60 days.

The Turnpike tells Channel 11 it already started sending daily notifications to customers about v-tolls in August.

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