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The Importance of Providing Alternative Cash Payments for Toll Payments

November 4, 2022

Paying road tolls used to require us to have cash on hand to pay the toll booth operator, leaving some of us frantically searching the car seats for coins. Those days appear to be drawing to a close as governments and toll management companies are increasingly getting rid of toll booths and going digital. Now, toll collection is more frequently done by plate, allowing drivers to breeze through tolls and keep trucking. 

Toll by plate, as it’s called, is incredibly convenient for many drivers, but some still want the option to pay their tolls in cash. Failing to provide this customer segment with cash payment options will impact customer satisfaction and collection rates. As toll collectors know, getting paid isn’t always easy. Today there are millions of dollars of unpaid toll by plate fees in the U.S. Many states and toll operation management companies are resigned to the fact that it is just the cost of doing business–but does it have to be? 

In this blog, we examine how the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission (PA Turnpike) addressed the needs of its cash-paying customers following the closure of its toll booths using the KUBRA Retail Cash Payment (RCP) solution

Ditching Cash in a Global Pandemic

With the help of its back-office partner TransCore, the PA Turnpike operates a highway system that 500,000 customers rely upon daily. To eliminate the handling of cash when the pandemic hit, the PA Turnpike closed its toll booths and implemented All Electronic Tolling (AET) 18 months ahead of schedule. Moving to AET challenged the PA Turnpike to find a way for customers who previously paid cash to pay their tolls. 

Overcoming Obstacles

Over $104 million in tolls invoiced by the PA Turnpike went uncollected in 2020-2021. Of the roughly 6% of toll transactions that were unpaid in 2020-2021, over 4% were due to customers receiving but not paying a Toll By Plate Invoice. A key priority of this project was to provide payment options, including cash, that were convenient and easy to use, incentivizing drivers to pay their tolls. And, since out-of-state motorists drive on toll roads in Pennsylvania, PA Turnpike also wanted to provide toll cash payment options outside the state. 

Project Bucket List

The project's primary objectives included providing an alternative cash payment option once it closed its toll booths. To ensure it was convenient for cash-paying customers, it also wanted to find a solution that gave customers access to as many payment locations as possible. And finally, it needed to address customers who don’t have a bank account or want to use cash to add funds to their existing PA Turnpike E-ZPass account or pay their Toll By Plate invoice.

How It Works

TransCore, which administers PA Turnpike’s E-ZPass and Toll By Plate programs, worked with KUBRA to implement KUBRA’s EZ-PAY RCP solution. Customers paying in cash select the “pay” option when accessing their account online or via the PA TOLL PAY app and generate reusable EZ-PAY payment slips. Once customers have the print or electronic payment slip, the system provides a list of retailers near the customer’s location. 

There are 70,000 retail locations in KUBRA’s nationwide retail cash payment network, making it easy for customers to pay their tolls at stores they already frequent, like 7-Eleven® and CVS®. A full list of retailers is available here.

Promising Early Results

KUBRA RCP went live in March 2022. In May and June 2022, an average of $8,561.96, or 220 RCP payments were processed per month. 77% of the RCP payments in June were made in Pennsylvania, and 23% were placed out of state, showing promising results for recouping payments from visiting motorists. A more detailed analysis of the results is available here.

You Don’t Have to Reinvent the Wheel

Throughout the project, PA Turnpike documented lessons learned and best practices, allowing us to share them with those interested in a retail cash payment option, like KUBRA RCP. Read the full case study to learn how to effectively roll out an alternative cash payment solution for your cash-preference customers.

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