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Turnpike authority sees nearly half a million PlatePay transactions in 1st month of cashless tolling

The Oklahoma Turnpike Authority reported nearly half a million transactions during its first full month using a cash-free tolling system.

The roughly 476,000 PlatePay transactions on the Kilpatrick Turnpike represented just under 3% of all traffic on the state's toll roads in August.

OTA has started a four-year transition to the PlatePay system on toll roads across the state for drivers who don’t have a PikePass transponder. The registered owner of a car or truck that goes through a PlatePay gate will be mailed a bill, and those toll rates will be about 75% higher than PikePass rates.

State Transportation Secretary and OTA Executive Director Tim Gatz said he expects some “complexities” as PlatePay expands past the Oklahoma City metro.

"And really front and center in that conversation is how do we make sure the folks that are using the turnpike network understand when they’re in a cashless environment versus when they’re expected to pull into the toll plaza and pay with cash?" Gatz said.

OTA is also taking a hard look at tolling apps as payment alternatives, primarily for rural areas where PikePass adoption is low.

"I think if you’re an infrequent user of the turnpike network and you just don’t want to have a PikePass, I think these tolling applications are going to have a higher acceptance rate, and that’s going to give us another chance to manage the toll network without having to necessarily use PlatePay exclusively," Gatz said.

OTA cites safety and the cost of accepting cash tolls as the main reasons for switching to PlatePay. The H.E. Bailey and Creek turnpikes are next in line for the system, which should be set up in the spring or summer of 2022.

OTA started testing PlatePay at the Peoria-Elm exit on the Creek Turnpike in 2017 and started moving ahead with statewide implementation this summer.

Matt Trotter joined KWGS as a reporter in 2013. Before coming to Public Radio Tulsa, he was the investigative producer at KJRH. His freelance work has appeared in the Los Angeles Times and on MSNBC and CNN.
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