CHARLESTON — West Virginia Turnpike users may eventually not need cash to pay tolls.
A bill sponsored by several legislators, including delegates from Mercer County, would allow the use of debit and credit cards for toll payments.
House Bill 4083 has been introduced in the House and is now in the Technology and Infrastructure Committee.
If passed by the Legislature and signed by Gov. Jim Justice, starting on July 1, 2021, the Parkways Authority will implement procedures to allow tolls to be paid by credit and debit cards, with the toll amount adjusted to cover all charges associated with using cards imposed by the credit card company or banks.
Also, the Parkways Authority will decide how many of the toll booths that accept payment by cards will be needed.
“The authority may limit the number of toll booths that accept payment by credit and debit cards at each toll collection point,” the bill says.
Toll fees doubled last year, starting Jan. 1, 2019, with a restructuring that allowed the authority to raise more money for roads through the sale of bonds.
A passenger car traveling from Princeton to Charleston and back now pays $4 at each of the three toll collection points, for a total of $24 for a round trip.
An E-ZPass can be purchased for $25 a year for unlimited access.
Revenue from passenger cars with no E-ZPass was estimated to jump from $25.8 million in 2018 to $34.2 million last year.
But vehicles on occasion want to pass through and have no cash. According to the Parkways Authority, if that happens the driver’s license tag is recorded and the driver/owner is sent a bill that must be paid within 15 days.
Having a debit/credit card option would avoid most of those incidents.
Del. Joe Ellington (R-Mercer County) is one of the bill’s sponsors and he is optimistic it will pass.
“I haven’t polled others but I haven’t heard any resistance,” he said.
Del. John Shott (R-Mercer County) and Del. Ed Evans (D-McDowell County) are also sponsors of the bill.
Evans said he wants to see travelers given that option.
“I don’t see that as a real problem,” he said, adding that it probably already should have been done.
Contact Charles Boothe at email@example.com.