Pennsylvania Turnpike Commissioners have approved a Jan. 5, 2014 increase in toll rates of 2% for E-ZPass electronic toll transactions and 12% for cash toll payments. For the fourth time since 2011, the Penn Pike is pushing electronic tolls up less than cash tolls.

No numbers are available yet for planned tolls for trucks, however the commercial vehicle volume discount program will be eliminated in January 2014.

The Turnpike charges E-ZPass customers less because of the lower costs of collecting tolls electronically. On average, E-ZPass costs about five to 10 times less per transaction than processing a cash toll, said Turnpike CEO Mark Compton.

“Besides being faster and more convenient for motorists, E-ZPass is a more efficient, environmentally responsible way for us as an agency to collect tolls because it reduces idling at the tollbooth and cuts emissions,” Compton said.

Enrollment in E-ZPass costs motorists $38 of which $35 is a prepaid tolls balance, and $3 is the signup and transponder service fee for the first year. A $3 service fee is levied each year thereafter.

E-ZPass is available online at http://www.paturnpike.com/or by calling 1-877-PENN-PASS (1-877-736-6727).

Customers can buy an E-ZPass GoPak at more than 300 retailers across the state, including most AAA offices and at certain stores in these chains: Acme, Giant Eagle and GetGo, Karns, Walmart and Wegmans. The E-ZPass GoPak allows travelers to obtain a transponder that is already activated and can be used immediately. (Retailers charge a one-time convenience fee.) Customers who purchase a GoPak must register the E-ZPass within 72 hours online or by calling the toll-free number.

Turnpike travelers can also get an E-ZPass at vending machines called Tag Tellers inside certain Turnpike travel plazas. For a comprehensive list of E-ZPass retail locations, visit www.paturnpike.com/ezpass/sales.aspx.

A Pennsylvania Turnpike E-ZPass can be used on any toll facility where the purple-and-white logo is shown. Presently, there are 25 E-ZPass agencies in 15 states, largely in the Northeastern U.S., and more than 20 million E-ZPass transponders in use on toll roads, bridges and tunnels nationwide.