BEDFORD, BEDFORD COUNTY - The Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission's plan is in five years, anyone that pays a toll in the state of Pennsylvania will have to pay it electronically. Whether you have an EZ pass or not.
Mary Zeth might not be using cash for long, and she doesn't like it. The turnpike commission's plan would eliminate the use of cash. Anyone with an EZ pass would pay per usual. Anyone without one, would have a picture taken of their license plate, then get a bill.
"I think you should have the freedom to choose, you know most people will want to pay cash then be done with it..."
As of October of this year, the turnpike employs 755 unionized Toll Collectors, along with 100 non-union employees.
If the need to man the toll booths is gone, then so could many of the people that work them. Zeth says it's the way of the world these days.
"Electronics are taking over everybody's job so you got to have some stability somewhere..."
Toll plaza's along the turnpike would be taken down, and replaced. PA House Transportation Committee Chairman (R) Rick Geist says it'll look completely different to drivers.
"You'll go through a gated archway and the only thing you'll see is your EZ pass blinking and if you don't you'll get your picture taken and you'll get a bill. All the gantries will be high speed, about 70 miles per hour gantries, so that you won't have to slow down with choke points like you do now."
While there's no specific date set on when local toll plazas like the one here in Bedford will start strictly charging electronically, Rep. Geist says that the five year plan's already started, the turnpike commission's calling it the biggest change in their system over the past 60 years.
The plan won't force people to get EZ passes but it will give them incentive, as they'll get a discount with the transponder.
A Pennsylvania EZ pass costs $35.00 ufront for the initial deposit and the transponder. It then costs $6.00 a year for the service. Any two-axle car or truck traveling the length of the turnpike would pay more than 42 dollars ($42.05). With the EZ pass it would be $35.49.