For the 16th year in a row, it will cost motorists more to use the Pennsylvania Turnpike next year.  

The turnpike commission Tuesday unanimously approved a 5% hike in tolls that will begin Jan. 7. Increases are projected to continue at least until 2050 to help the agency pay down more than $15 billion in debt, much of it accumulated while the agency was required to pay $400 million a year to the state Department of Transportation for public transit for 15 years.

With the new rates, the most common toll for a passenger vehicle will increase from $1.80 to $1.90 for motorists who use the prepaid E-ZPass transponder.

Those who use the Toll-By-Plate system, where the agency takes a photo of their license plate and mails them a bill, will see their rates increase from $4.40 to $4.70. Those drivers pay a surcharge to cover the cost of processing their bill.

For the most common trip made by a Class 5 tractor-trailer, the rate will increase from $14.40 to $15.20 with E-ZPass and from $29.40 to $30.90 for Toll By Plate.

The cost of a cross-state trip from Ohio to New Jersey will increase for E-ZPass customers from $52.10 to $54.60. For Toll By Plate, the cost increases from $105.30 to $110.70.

Commission Chairman Mike Carroll, a former state representative who became PennDOT secretary in May, said more than half of the agency’s debt is related t&o the transit payments.

“As much as we are not eager to raise rates, the financial situation of the state over the years … put us in this position,” Carroll said before the vote.

The agency made its last $400 million payment in 2022, but it remains saddled with much of the debt from those payments for the next two decades. It is paying about $800 million in debt service this year, about half of its annual revenue, and that will grow to a peak of $1.2 billion in 2037.

As a result, the agency is projecting 5% toll hikes through 2025, 4% in 2026, 3.5% in 2027 and 3% through 2050. Those increases are based on projected traffic increases on the toll road, which has recovered to surpass pre-pandemic levels in the more expensive commercial traffic but continues to lag behind in passenger traffic.

A chart released by the agency shows the turnpike will be tied for the 18th highest rate in the country at 15 cents per mile for passenger vehicles out of 47 toll agencies. The highest rate is 63 cents a mile on the Pocahontas Parkway in Virginia.

In a news release, turnpike CEO Mark Compton said the agency is doing its part to hold down costs, coming in 15% under budget during the fiscal year that ended in June.

“Before we ask customers to pay higher rates, we make sure that we’re keeping our costs as low as possible,” he said. “… We recognize that our customers pay a premium when they choose to travel on the PA Turnpike. In return, we endeavor to provide a dependable, premium, experience that gets our customers safely to their destinations in a timely fashion.”

Ed Blazina

Ed covers transportation at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, but he's currently on strike. Email him at

Ed Blazina

Ed covers transportation at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, but he's currently on strike. Email him at