Cash or credit?

Rejoice, forgetful people: Drivers can now pay for their trips at Pennsylvania Turnpike toll booths with a credit card.

The Turnpike Commission quietly rolled out credit card payments at toll booths last month, said Carl DeFebo, director of Public Relations & Marketing. The option is available throughout the state.

“We’ve been discussing this for some time now,” DeFebo told The Incline. “It’s not going to be the preferred method of payment.”

Instead, credit card payments should be used as a Plan B when drivers don’t have any cash, he said. Before the Commission implemented the credit card option, drivers with no way to pay for a toll had to fill out a form called a Certificate of Passage.

“It took time in the lane,” DeFebo said. “This credit card program has significantly reduced the number of COPs.”

About 75 percent of drivers on the Turnpike use E-ZPass as payment, according to DeFebo.

In September, the state auditor general warned that toll violations were increasing, “causing the Turnpike Commission to write off $12 million to $20 million per year” and noted that “failing to meet the Commission’s unrealistic traffic and revenue projections could contribute to a financial and statewide transportation crisis in the next seven years,” per a press release.

Among its recommendations at the time:

Consider the acceptance of credit cards and debit cards at toll booths, which may help individuals who accidentally enter the Turnpike, but do not have cash with them to pay tolls.

DeFebo said the decision to roll out a credit card option had nothing to do with the audit.

“It’s making our customers’ lives easier,” he said, adding that it’s also making the Commission more efficient.

Sarah Anne Hughes is based in Harrisburg for The Incline and Billy Penn as the sites’ first-ever state capitol reporter and is a 2018 corps member for Report...