HARRISBURG (Newsradio 1020 KDKA) - The PA Turnpike is laying off 500 fare-collectors amid the coronavirus pandemic and will utilized the cashless, All-Electronic Tolling system permanently.
The decision was unanimously approved by Turnpike commissioners on Tuesday.
“I deeply regret that we have reached this point, but the world has been irrevocably changed by the global pandemic,” said PTC CEO Mark P. Compton. “This pandemic had a much greater impact than anyone could have foreseen. The PA Turnpike has not been spared from COVID-19.”
In addition, cash will no longer be accepted on the turnpike.
Drivers will either have to use an E-ZPass or a PA Turnpike TOLL BY PLATE invoice that will be sent in the mail.
Employees were informed of the move earlier on Tuesday and the layoff process will begin this week.
“This is a painful day for all of us at the Commission,” said Compton. “I want to thank these men and women for their dedication and hard work over the years; I assure them we will continue to assist them during this transition.”
The original plan was to begin layoffs in early 2022 but was accelerated by the pandemic.
Because of the pandemic, traffic on the turnpike has been down nearly 50 percent compared to 2019 with revenues dropping over $100 million for the fiscal year that ended on May 31.
“From the start, we have taken a phased, deliberate approach to offset revenue loss that offers a degree of flexibility to adapt depending on the crisis’ duration,” Compton said. “To date, the Commission has taken several steps to cut costs. However, it has become clear these steps are not enough.”
Measures the Commission has taken to mitigate the pandemic’s impacts include:
• cutting capital spending by 25%;• reducing operating expenses• instituting a hiring freeze• offering a voluntary-retirement program• delaying its July transit-funding payment of $112.5 million to the Commonwealth.