Kansas Turnpike hold transponder tolls, hike cash tolls average 15% cars, 5% trucks

August 28, 2009
By Peter Samuel

Kansas Turnpike are increasing cash tolls an average of 15% but keeping their K-TAG transponder tolls the same October 1st.  Increases for cash-paying tractor-trailers will increase an average of 5%. Turnpike president Michael L Johnston says the changes are "intended to better align our costs of providing service to various customer classes and, at the same time, achieve greater operating efficiencies."

Around 42% of transactions on the Turnpike are by transponder so the cash toll increases should increase toll revenues by 4% to 5% on a full year basis by our calculation if transponder usage increases to around 50% as a result of the new discount.

First time a transponder discount

Until now cash and transponder toll rates have been the same. However a prepaid transponder account called K-TAG Classic presently provides a 10% discount on tolls, a free transponder at the cost of a $1 monthly account fee.

Alternatively under a MY K-TAG purchase program a transponder can be purchased for $5 (net of $15 charge and $10 toll credits) and there is no monthly account fee.

Sticker tags

The K-Tag transponder is now a TransCore Super eGo sticker tag ISO 18000 6B (or a slight proprietory variant). It is only usable for paying tolls in Kansas. (MODIFICATION 08-28 12:30)

Trip-based tolling

Kansas tolls are trip-based - that is they are computed by registering the entry point on a ticket or in transponder memory and on exit the entry data is used to compute the toll.

All tolls on the 380km, 236 mile long pike are rounded to the nearest nickel, dime or quarter. The Turnpike has 21 toll points so 20 separately tolled segments. A downloadable toll rate chart shows the new toll structure - see link below.

Traffic off 2% 2008/2007

Traffic last year was off about 2% as compared to 2007, truck-miles down 3.8% and passenger car miles down 1.5%. But the full year effect of a 2007 5% toll increase in 2008 increased toll revenues just slightly (0.3%) in 2008 to $78.43m from $78.20m.

The Turnpike reduced operating costs slightly (1.8%) so the operating surplus increased slightly (about 1%).

See financial results table nearby. Note we've excluded major rebuilds from the Turnpike's operating expense category since they are capital items according to the accounting we learned. (Depreciation becomes double-counting if you expense rebuilds.)

For the 232 mile trip between the eastern and southern termini, the length of the Turnpike, the
2-axle  or car toll will be $10.75 cash, $9.25 transponder a 16.2% premium or 4.63c/mi for cash v 3.99c/mi transponder (2.9c/km, 2.5c/km).

A typical tractor trailer with 5 axles will pay $30 cash, $28.25 transponder, a 6.2% premium and 12.9c/mile cash, 12.2c/mile transponder (8c/km, 7.6c/km).

Kansas Turnpike runs 9-axle long turnpike double trailers with weights up to 55t (120k pds) and these will now pay $73 cash and $69.25 by transponder for traveling the length of the turnpike - 31.5c/mile and 29.9c/mile with the transponder (20c/km, 18.6c/km).

Kansas Turnpike toll increases for cars have seriously lagged inflation by the looks of the historical chart of toll increases nearby. Truck tolls were raised strongly 1979 to 1991.

Tolls from Oct 1 on, downloadable as pdf file:

http://www.tollroadsnews.com/sites/default/files/200910tolls.pdf

Kansas Turnpike website:

http://ksturnpike.com

TOLLROADSnews 2009-08-27

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