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Auditor General Jack Wagner Commends Turnpike Commission for Decision to Print Fares on Tickets
HARRISBURG, Pa., Dec. 23, 2010 – Auditor General Jack Wagner today commended the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission for reversing course and announcing it would print new toll rates on its tickets.
“This is a victory for those who care about transparency and open government, public safety, and greater convenience for the millions of motorists who use the Pennsylvania Turnpike each year.”
The decision ends a two-week effort by Wagner to get the Turnpike Commission to reconsider its decision to stop printing fares on tickets, beginning Jan. 2, when a 10-percent fare increase takes effect for motorists paying with cash.
The Turnpike Commission said that eliminating fare information would save $100,000 in printing costs, but Wagner said the potential savings were far outweighed by dangers to motorists.
Wagner criticized the Turnpike Commission’s action in a formal letter sent Dec 21, 2010, in which he cited several reasons for why the decision should be reversed.
Wagner said he was concerned about transparency in the commission’s decision, since some motorists might perceive the removal of fare information as an attempt to conceal the rate increase from the public. He also said that motorists would be confused because without the fare printed on the ticket they would not know how much their trip would cost.
Since cash-paying motorists would not know how much their trip would cost, it could lead to an increased risk of errors by toll collectors, and it could increase the potential for fraud by making it difficult for customers to know if they were being overcharged, Wagner said.
The most important reason to print the correct fares on the tickets is for public safety, Wagner said. He said the potential for accidents is increased when drivers are looking for more money for a toll or using their cell phones while driving trying to determine the proper toll amount.
“The commission made the right decision to print the new tickets, and in doing so, avoided a myriad of potential problems that could have occurred,” Wagner said.
Auditor General Jack Wagner is responsible for ensuring that all state money is spent legally and properly. He is the commonwealth’s elected independent fiscal watchdog, conducting financial audits, performance audits and special investigations. The Department of the Auditor General conducts more than 5,000 audits per year. To learn more about the Department of the Auditor General, taxpayers are encouraged to visit the department’s website at www.auditorgen.state.pa.us.
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