Pennsylvania Turnpike may soon do away with cash option

| Friday, August 19, 2011

The Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission is studying whether to transition to a cashless system of toll collection, but truckers say the agency should keep a cash option available.

The commission recently published an online survey and called on truckers, especially those who pay cash, for input.

Most frequent users have E-ZPass, but some still prefer to pay cash, says OOIDA Senior Member Chris Behrens of Brodheadsville, PA.

“There’s a lot of people out there that may not have good credit, so they may not be able to get E-ZPass,” he said.

As part of a possible switch to all-electronic toll collection, the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission would encourage E-ZPass use, but would have an alternative way for customers to pay if they didn’t have a transponder. That option would involve a system that snaps a photo of the vehicle’s license plate and sends an invoice to the vehicle owner.

Truckers aren’t likely to favor that alternative, says Behrens. He said he was willing to give up some privacy to have E-ZPass and a paper trail in the turnpike office. But his willingness to give up additional privacy stops there. He questions why every transaction, including trips for personal conveyance, should include a paper trail or a photo.

“There are people who don’t want people to know what they’re doing. Last time I checked, we still have a right to privacy, but our privacy is slowly being taken away every day. If you just want to pay your cash and go through, you should have that right,” he said.

“There should still be an option to pay cash since there are going to be people who will not sign up for the E-ZPass or want Big Brother looking over their shoulder.”

Behrens said the survey does not ask customers if they would prefer a cash option.

“It wasn’t much of a survey, really. There wasn’t much to it at all,” he said.

The Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission’s survey period ends Monday, Aug. 22. Visit to view the survey.