New Turnpike tickets are saving money and reducing waste

The PA Turnpike tickets which have been in use since 1988 are being phased out by tickets that will be printed on demand. The system-wide roll-out for new ticket machines will be complete by Dec. 7, 2012. Image by Clinton N. Godlesky.

Cash-paying customers of the Pennsylvania Turnpike may have noticed a different look and feel to the tickets issued at toll-plaza entry lanes. The new Turnpike tickets are about 1.75 inches longer, printed on a white thermal paper (like an ATM receipt but heavier) in place of the beige tickets that have been dispensed for the last quarter century.

The tickets — surrendered to the collector at exit as proof of entry point and vehicle classification — determine the applicable toll for cash-paying motorists.

“While the updated tickets will feature a different texture and appearance, they still perform the same function, and there will be no other change in how a cash transaction is processed,” said Craig R. Shuey, the Turnpike’s chief operating officer. “These new tickets will help lower costs and reduce waste, with the added benefit of being easier to read.”

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Instead of being preprinted, the new tickets will be printed on demand, as they’re issued in the lane, saving ink and paper; and because they use a barcode to store vehicle class and entry point, they’re recyclable — unlike the current tickets that use a magnetic strip and must be landfilled.

Cash-paying travelers will see new tickets showing up at a handful of toll plazas starting Sept. 26, as technicians conduct a “dry run” installation of new Automatic Ticket Issuing Machines (or ATIMs) at three interchanges: the Willow Hill Interchange (Exit #189) on the Turnpike mainline (I-76) in Franklin County; the Lebanon/Lancaster Interchange (Exit #266) on the Turnpike mainline (I-76) in Lancaster County; and the Wilkes-Barre Interchange (Exit #105) on the Northeastern Extension (I-476) in Luzerne County.

Once the installation procedure and timeframe is verified, the commission will begin installing new ATIMs (119 in all) at its remaining ticketed interchanges. This system-wide rollout will take 10 weeks to carry out, from Oct. 1 until Dec. 7. New machines will be installed at the Turnpike’s lower-volume toll plazas first and at its busiest interchanges last.

The upgrade is required chiefly because the old ATIMs, in service since 1988, are obsolete. By the end of the calendar year, the commission will no longer be able to obtain spare parts for the old ATIMs, and maintenance costs would rise steeply as parts would have to be custom milled.

The ticket-machine replacement represents only the fourth major overhaul of the Turnpike’s fare-collection infrastructure since the first toll ticket was issued almost 72 years ago on Oct. 1, 1940.

Customers who have questions or concerns about the new tickets can contact the Turnpike Commission by calling 1-800-331-3414 (Monday through Friday between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m.) or online at www.paturnpike.com/contact.