The previous E-ZPass discount was 17 percent. That wasn't enough over the last two years to drive several hundred thousand turnpike customers to sign up. But the jump to a 25 percent premium could push the number of turnpike regulars with E-ZPass far above the current 68 percent.
That's key to the Turnpike Commission's plans to phase out all cash toll collections over the next five years or so, enabling it to trim expenses, presumably while reducing the ranks of toll collectors, primarily through attrition.
But the tougher fiscal problem for turnpike users - and all state motorists - is the annual $450 million payment the agency is required to make toward PennDot road and bridge repairs and mass transit subsidies. Although a 2007 state law envisioned tolling Interstate 80 to generate maintenance funds, the turnpike has had to shoulder the burden - thus the yearly toll hikes.
Moreover, PennDot funding for the turnpike falls far short of meeting transportation needs estimated in the billions of dollars by a Corbett task force and earlier studies. That's where state officials need to intervene with a plan to raise additional revenue before a bridge collapses.
Two years into an administration that has enforced Corbett's no-new-taxes ideology, the clock is ticking on a viable plan to fund transportation projects.
The governor and Pileggi say this is the year that issue rises to the top of their agenda. Certainly, all that has been lacking previously is the political will - since it's hardly a matter of rocket science to solve the funding woes.
An increase of only a few pennies in the state's gasoline tax, or a menu of fee increases and a bump in another fuel-related tax - as suggested by the governor's own task force - could both do the job easily.
Maybe having to pay higher tolls as they travel the turnpike to and from Harrisburg finally will spur state leaders into action.