Pa. raising fees on motorists to fund transportation

©iStockphoto.com / IGOR STEVANOVIC
©iStockphoto.com / IGOR STEVANOVIC
Posted: March 28, 2014

Pennsylvania motorists, already facing higher prices at the gas pumps, will see some vehicle fees rise next week, courtesy of the transportation-funding law approved last year.

Act 89, the transportation measure advocated by Gov. Corbett and narrowly approved by the legislature in November, will provide about $2.3 billion more a year by 2018 for better roads, safer bridges, and improved public transit.

This year, the revenue will be about $350 million, but it will increase each year as taxes and fees rise.

A typical driver can expect to pay $22 more this year and $132 more by 2018, according to calculations made by the governor's Transportation Funding Advisory Commission. The commission's recommendations formed the basis for the new funding plan.

That would amount to a 42-cents-a-week increase this year, and $2.54 a week by 2018.

(The commission assumed the typical driver owns one vehicle, drives it 12,000 miles a year, and gets 24 miles per gallon.)

Most of the additional money for roads, bridges, and transit - about 82 percent - will come from higher gas taxes. Gas taxes in Pennsylvania were last increased in 1997.

The new law calls for the state to gradually remove the limit on the wholesale tax on gasoline and eliminate the 12-cents-a-gallon retail gas tax.

Within five years, if wholesalers pass on the full increase to consumers, that could increase the gas tax by about 28 cents a gallon. That would boost the state gas tax from 31.2 cents a gallon in 2013 to 59.2 cents by 2018.

So far, the average price of regular gas in Pennsylvania has risen 13 cents a gallon since the end of last year, to $3.61 per gallon this week, compared with $3.48 on Dec. 31.

By comparison, in New Jersey, the price has risen by four cents during the same period, to $3.34 per gallon from $3.30 on Dec. 31. In Delaware, the price also has risen four cents, to $3.50 from $3.46, according to data compiled by GasBuddy.com.

Higher fees and fines for motorists will provide about 18 percent of the additional transportation funding for Pennsylvania. Some of those costs have already gone up; others are scheduled to rise over the next few years.

The fine for failure to obey traffic-control devices, a common citation for running a stop sign or other infraction, went up to $150 from $25 on Jan. 1. (However, surcharges that had been added to the $25 fine can't be added to the new amount.)

On April 1, fee increases will include: Identification card, from $13.50 to $27.50; duplicate drivers' licenses and IDs, from $13.50 to $27.50; certificates of title, from $22.50 to $50; certified records, from $10 to $30; and manufacturer/dealer notifications, from $3 to $5.

On July 1, the fee for a replacement license plate will increase from $7.50 to $11; the fee to transfer a registration plate, from $6 to $9; the fee for vanity plates, from $20 to $76; zoological and railroad special plates, from $35 to $54; and inspection stickers, from $2 to $5.

Most of those fees had not changed since 1997, Pennsylvania Department of Transportation spokesman Richard Kirkpatrick said.

On Jan. 1, 2015, the fee for a probationary license will rise from $25 to $35, and the surcharge for a commercial driver's license will rise from $10 to $15.

Also on Jan. 1, 2015, motorists will get the option to pay $500 in lieu of a three-month suspension for allowing vehicle insurance to lapse.

On that date, counties also will have the option to levy a $5 annual vehicle registration fee.

Starting July 1, 2015, the fees for regular drivers' licenses and annual vehicle registration will go up $1 a year, and on July 1, 2019, they will increase annually by the amount of inflation.


BY THE NUMBERS

$2.3B

Additional revenue that will be generated by 2018 as a result of transportation measure approved by Pa. legislature.

$22

Increase in fees a typical driver can expect to pay this year.

$150

Fine for failure to obey traffic-control devices,

up from $25 on Jan. 1.

$27.50

Fee for an identification card, which will go up from

$13.50 on Tuesday.

$76

Fee for a vanity plate, which will go up from $20 on July 1.


pnussbaum@phillynews.com

215-854-4587

@nussbaumpaul

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