Turnpike employee EZ pass records off limits to newspaper, judge rules

About 2,000 employees of the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission get to ride the toll road for free, and a Commonwealth Court judge has turned down a newspaper’s request to get information on employee E-Z pass accounts.
Harrisburg Patriot News editor David Newhouse said the paper sought turnpike employee EZ Pass records to see what the commission was losing on employees personal travel. “Anybody on the taxpayer’s dime has the right to be reimbursed for their work, but they don’t have the right to be reimbursed if they’re going to the shore with their family on Saturday or anything else out of work hours,” Newhouse said. Turnpike spokesman Bill Capone couldn’t explain why the commission lets employees ride the road for free. He said it’s a decades-old tradition. But he said when the issue was raised last year, officials did a rough estimate of how much employee personal travel was costing the turnpike.Capone said  he didn’t know the precise estimate, but “it was not a significant amount of money, compared to our overall toll revenue of over $700 million. We’re talking in the tens of  thousands of dollars.”Commonwealth Court Judge Patricia A. McCullough ruled the employee EZ pass accounts are technically private, so the newspaper doesn’t get to review them, even with the names redacted.        

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