As the COVID-19 pandemic affects almost every type of business, the Pennsylvania Turnpike is not being spared. Turnpike officials said they have been hit financially just like everyone else, and there's no telling how they will bounce back.
They're doing their best to figure out how to best survive this while still serving their customers.
The turnpike has lost about half of it's customers to the pandemic, most of that being passenger vehicles. Commercial trucks and tractor trailers continue to run, but they've seen a revenue drop of about 40 percent which is making them change how they do business.
"We're fine tuning our operating budget. We're fine tuning our capitol expenditures. That's the money we reinvest into our roadways every year. So we're really trying to make some cuts here." said turnpike spokesperson Carl DeFebo
Defebo said they are making necessary cuts to deal with the fallout of every day travel, so we should expect repairs and other construction either slow down or stop for awhile. What does this mean for drivers using the turnpike in the future? Depending on how long the effects of COVID-19 last could decide how much next year's tolls increase.
"If we start to step out of this and slowly emerge from our homes and from our quarantines, there's a chance that traffic will rebound. But it's really difficult to say." he said.
They experienced something like this during the 2008 recession where vacation travel and long distance driving took a backseat. Business did not pick back up immediately and took years to recover.
"We really don't expect to see it recouping this year. We hope that people kind of peek out of their shells and look around and start to travel. But this could take years to recover back to normal traffic operations." DeFebo said.
The turnpike owes the state of Pennsylvania about 450 million dollars each year, and they pay that quarterly. They made their April payment, but are asking PennDOT and the governor's office for an extension on their July payment.