If you haven’t heard yet, Pennsylvania Turnpike tolls will rise 10 percent for cash customers in 2012.
The decision was made July 19 by the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission and announced two days later.
Those using E-ZPass will not see an increase.
Except for commercial haulers. They will see a 15 percent increase as they will lose their 15 percent volume discount.
Exempted from the hike will be I-576 in the Pittsburgh area.
The money will be used to pay off bonds that were used for improvements to highways and mass transit systems.
OK, what does the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission have to do with mass transit systems?
This will be the fourth straight year the Commission has raised rates. The hike is expected to transfer $23 million from citizens to the state.
Gov. Corbett had promised not to raise taxes. He is deluding himself that increasing the transportation costs by 15 percent for those who use the state’s turnpike system to haul our food, manufactured items and consumer goods is not a tax hike, and one that will ultimately be borne by the consumer.
What’s really pathetic is that if revenue is needed highway tolls are an extraordinarily inefficient means of getting it.
This study of the system in Washington State showed that collection costs were $22 for every $100 raised, which was 25 times greater than those of a gasoline tax.
Of course, raising tolls means less screaming from us pheasants than, say, raising the gas tax. The pain is much less immediate and the source of it much less obvious. This is something well understood to those who earn their well-buttered bread by plucking us.
And also ignored by toll-road phanboys are the hidden costs. Aside from the smog-producing, gas-wasting slowdowns and snarls at the toll booths, turnpikes are extraordinarily inefficient means of providing transportation.
Consider that in the 20-miles of the free part of I-476 between I-95 and the first toll booth at Plymouth Meeting there are 10 exits. In the next 37 miles after the Plymouth Meeting interchanges there are three.
This means that there are a whole lot of drivers unnecessarily wasting time and gas on stop-light dotted roads than would be otherwise if our transportation planners were not strapped in considering the burden of toll collection.