Toll cheats cost New Jersey $117M last year and experts say the bill keeps growing

Unpaid tolls totaled $47.2 million on the New Jersey Turnpike and $9 million on the Garden State Parkway in 2022.

Cars lined up at a toll booth

File photo: Traffic passes through the toll plaza at the George Washington Bridge in Fort Lee, New Jersey, on Friday, June 10, 2022. (AP Photo/Ted Shaffrey, file)

Toll cheats cost New Jersey more than $117 million last year, a chronic problem that officials say has become even worse since the pandemic.

Unpaid tolls totaled $47.2 million on the New Jersey Turnpike and $9 million on the Garden State Parkway in 2022, according to the Turnpike Authority, which runs both roads. Those numbers have increased over the past five years, officials said.

Meanwhile, toll violations have steadily increased on the Atlantic City Expressway over the past three years, costing the agency $1.88 million in 2022.

Losses from unpaid tolls cost the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey $36.58 million last year, agency figures show. The Delaware River Joint Toll Bridge Commission reported a loss of $20 million in unpaid tolls in 2022.

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“It kind of spikes up in 2020,” John Hanson, CEO of the Delaware River Port Authority told about the $3 million in unpaid tolls in 2022. “It seems with the pandemic, people have a little less tolerance for following the rules.”

Experts note that drivers who go through tolls without paying or don’t pay bills they receive by mail ultimately hurt law-abiding drivers from a fairness standpoint. They also short agencies on revenue used to maintain their part of a states road system.

New Jersey is not alone in dealing with toll cheats. Officials in neighboring Pennsylvania reported in November that the amount of uncollected tolls on the Pennsylvania Turnpike had grown by nearly 50% over the past year, and a government audit urged the Turnpike Commission to address the problem and make changes to improve its finances.

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