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Friday, May 11, 2007

More Turnpike Lease Distortions

The Pennsylvania Motor Truck Association (PMTA) issued a news release claiming that voters overwhelming disapprove a Turnpike lease and citing exorbitant toll increases in Indiana.

While elected officials should not base policy decisions solely on opinion polls, the poll used by the PMTA (from Susquehanna polling) offers different findings from a recent Quinnipiac University Poll. More than likely the differing results are based on the wording of the question (the PMTA release does not include the poll question), meaning that voters view change depending on the information they have, and the presentation.

PMTA chairman Shumaker also describes an increase in truck tolls in Indiana after the state leased the toll road:

One truck paid $19 to travel the l78 mile toll road. Before the road was sold to private investors, the same truck would pay $4.50.
I am going to be generous, and suggest they made a typographical error (rather than lying, or citing data from 1970). While $19 is the current fare on the Indiana toll road from Eastpoint to Portage for a 5-axle truck, the corresponding rate before the lease was $15.25. The rate for passenger cars is $4.15 - no increase from prior to the lease agreement.

It is worth noting that the toll increases in Indiana were specified by the legislature. And the Indiana Toll Road, unlike the PA Turnpike currently, received tax subsidies as the tolls did not generate enough revenue for maintenance (the private operator receives no such subsidy).

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