Are you going on the road this summer for the holidays?
If you plan to travel the Pennsylvania toll highway, you can choose E-ZPass to electronically pay tolls along the way, saving up to 60%.
If not, be prepared for a camera to take a photo of your license plate and get an invoice for a higher rate.
In Pennsylvania, the days of toll collectors collecting money at counters are long gone. However, some other states still accept cash.
The Turnpike switched to cashless collection – sooner than expected – when the COVID-19 pandemic hit last year.
Joe Schmidt of Lower Burrell, Pa., Has been using E-ZPass since its inception. His parents used to travel from Pittsburgh to New Jersey to see relatives, and his late father, who had purchased E-ZPass, encouraged Schmidt to get one as well.
It was easy and convenient to use. At that time, there was no need to stop to buy tickets and look for money to pay a toll.
“Once you have it, it’s like ‘don’t leave the house without’,” Schmidt said.
Whether you’re a regular E-ZPass user or a newcomer, we’ll answer a few questions on how you can get and use it.
Here are some things you should know:
How can I get an E-ZPass?
You can purchase an E-ZPass Go Pak at various retail stores. It costs $ 38, which includes an annual fee of $ 3 and $ 35 for prepaid tolls. There is no charge for the transponder, which you will need to stick on the windshield inside. (If the transponder breaks or deteriorates, a new one is sent free of charge.)
Supermarkets, including Giant, Weis and Wegmans; AAA agents, Turnpike Service Plazas, or PennDOT, such as Runkle’s Inc., carry them. To find a store near you, visit www.paturpike.com.
Retailers keep the E-ZPass Go Pak at the customer service desk and charge a nominal convenience fee to purchase it.
Customers can also obtain it at the E-ZPass Customer Service Center, 300 E. Park Drive, Harrisburg.
How can I configure it?
Customers will need to register their E-ZPass transponder and create an account within 72 hours of purchase. This can be done online at paturpike.com, with the new E-ZPass toll plate app (available through Apple or Google Play), or by calling a customer service center at 877-736-6727.
Customers will be asked to provide their driver’s license, vehicle information, and a credit card or other form of payment. They can choose to replenish their account manually or automatically.
After check-in, the E-ZPass can be used 24 hours later on the Pennsylvania toll highway or after 48 hours on an out-of-state toll road.
The customer’s credit card will be charged when the balance drops below $ 10, if the person has opted for automatic top-up. The account will be replenished to $ 35.
“Customers love this because they never have to worry about running out of money,” said Turnpike spokesperson Carl DeFebo.
An option exists to allow customers to replenish the account themselves.
If not used, the money will stay in the account for years.
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Where to put the transponder?
Customers must properly mount the transponder behind the rearview mirror in the windshield, using the adhesive strips provided.
Here’s why: The transponder is a radio frequency interface device. It sends out a unique radio signal. An antenna will read the signal from the transponder and identify it.
The transponder must have a clear view of the aerial antenna, DeFebo said.
Don’t make the mistake some drivers make.
They will wave the transponder or hold it against the windshield as they pass the toll booth. But it’s too late.
“The equipment that picks up the antenna – that’s 50 feet before it goes through the toll plaza,” DeFebo said.
The Turnpike will know the driver has an E-ZPass because of the license plate number. The agency will charge the driver $ 10 – called Toll V – because they don’t have enough information.
Customers should review their statements to see if there have been any issues.
Can I use E-ZPass out of state?
Yes, E-ZPass is accepted on many toll roads in all states of the eastern half of the United States.
In addition to Pennsylvania, it can be used in the following states:
- New Hampshire
- New Jersey
- new York
- North Carolina
- Rhode Island
- West Virginia
Some states, such as Georgia and Minnesota, plan to offer E-ZPass later this year.
Can I change my E-ZPass for another vehicle?
Yes, but customers should make sure the vehicle is listed on their account.
Some commuters will use E-ZPass in their car to get to work every day, then switch it to the family vehicle when they hit the beach.
What if I don’t have an E-ZPass?
The cameras will take a photo of the license plate and an invoice will be sent to the vehicle owner. This is called the “toll per plate”.
Can I save on tolls without an E-ZPass?
Yes, you can save on tolls without E-ZPass. However, you will need to create a plate toll account and prepay the tolls.
It allows customers to save 15 percent on the bill. (E-ZPass allows customers to save up to 60 percent.)
Customers can create an account online or with the E-ZPass Toll Plate app.
“It’s kind of like an E-ZPass without an E-ZPass,” DeFebo said.
Is it really worth getting E-ZPass?
Sometimes drivers will say they don’t take the toll highway often, but DeFebo said it was worth it to travel even a few exits.
The plate toll is $ 3.90 to go from Harrisburg West to Harrisburg East. E-ZPass customers pay $ 1.60.
And a trip from Harrisburg West to Reading would cost $ 10 for the toll per plate. For E-ZPass customers, it’s $ 4.80. That’s a savings of $ 5.20.
To calculate how much your trip would cost, visit paturpike.com.
Can the E-ZPass be used for parking fees
E-ZPass can be used for more than toll roads.
E-ZPass Plus – anyone who has E-ZPass is automatically enrolled in the “plus” program – can be used to pay for parking fees. It includes some airports in New York and New Jersey, such as JFK International and LaGuardia.
However, travelers cannot use E-ZPass at Thurgood Marshall International Airport in Baltimore / Washington and all airports in Pennsylvania, DeFebo said.
How many drivers use the plate toll?
Only 14% of drivers use plate tolls, DeFebo said.
E-ZPass has grown, with 86% of Turnpike customers using it.
“For the most part, people paid their toll bills by plate,” he said.
The Turnpike collects between 93 and 95 percent of all tolls – E-ZPass and plate tolls. He was never 100 percent.
There are various reasons for the tolls not collected. This does not mean that customers refuse to pay.
For example, drivers may forget to update their address or their license plate has been accidentally obstructed by a bicycle rack. (By the way, it’s illegal to obstruct a license plate.)
The customer service agents try to put together the information they have, such as the color, make and model of the vehicle and the parts of the license plate, find the owner and send an invoice to the person, DeFebo said.