Turning Cashless? The COVID-19 excuse

In December 2010, the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission (PTC) set out to determine the feasibility of converting the Pennsylvania Turnpike toll-collection system, including all Turnpike extensions, to an all-electronic tolling (AET) system. This was no small feat for this legacy toll agency dating back to 1940 as America’s First Superhighway. Today, the PA Turnpike remains one of the nation’s largest toll systems and operations in the US with 564 linear miles.

In 2010, PTC selected McCormick Taylor of Philadelphia, PA, and Wilbur Smith Associates of Columbia, SC, to conduct a year-long study on how the (then 545-mile) highway network could switch to a cashless toll-collection system. The consultants prepared a report documenting tolling options available, general system requirements, estimated costs, traffic-and-revenue impacts and implementation schedule involved with such a conversion. If implemented, the cashless system would make Turnpike travel safer, faster and more eco-friendly for all customers.

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The cashless society from an ethical point of view

The debate about the move towards a cashless society has been at the center of the scene for several years, now. Various angles have been taken by economists, politicians, banking institutions and sociologists. Beyond the technicalities of the debate, lies the question of freedom, of inter-citizen solidarity and of governmental responsibility. The debate cannot remain in the hands of financial specialists, it is first and foremost an ethical, political and societal issue.

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