Cash vs. K-Tag
Here’s the cost comparison of selected Kansas Turnpike tolls, effective Oct. 1, for customers traveling from the West Lawrence interchange (Exit 202) in Lawrence:
• Eastern Terminal, Exit 236: $1.65, cash; $1.45, K-TAG.
• Topeka I-70, Exit 183: $1, cash; 85 cents, K-TAG.
• Emporia, Exit 127: $3.50, cash; $3, K-TAG.
• Wichita, Exit 50: $7, cash; $6, K-TAG.
• Southern Terminal, Exit 4: $9.25, cash; $8, K-TAG.
Tolls for using the Kansas Turnpike are going up for all but current and soon-to-enroll customers of the turnpike’s K-TAG payment system.
Cash tolls for passenger vehicles will increase an average of 15 percent beginning Oct. 1, the turnpike authority announced Thursday. Tolls will rise by an average of 5 percent for larger trucks and commercial vehicles.
Tolls will remain unchanged for customers who use K-TAG, which is the electronic system that allows drivers to pass through payment lanes without stopping, then pay their bills either monthly or through pre-paid accounts.
The system is faster and more convenient for drivers, and saves money for the turnpike.
“These changes in our toll structure are intended to better align our costs of providing service to various customer classes and, at the same time, achieve greater operating efficiencies,” said Michael Johnston, the turnpike’s president and CEO, in a statement. “Greater use of K-TAG is just one of many steps in our effort to find more operating efficiencies during this challenging economic period.”
Drivers in the Lawrence area are among the most active users of K-TAG. At the Lecompton interchange at the western edge of Lawrence — a popular option for drivers commuting to and from Topeka — 58 percent of drivers are K-TAG users.
For the entire 236-mile turnpike, which runs from Wyandotte County south through Wichita to the Oklahoma border, K-TAG usage averages 42.5 percent.
Turnpike officials have lamented that travel on the turnpike has remained effectively flat during the past few years, as Americans continue to cut back on travel amid rising fuel prices and an economic downturn.
Even before the latest “economic turmoil,” Johnston said, the turnpike authority had been working aggressively to reduce operational costs. The authority has cut 10 percent of its full-time payroll, or 39 positions, since the start of 2006.
The new Tonganoxie-Eudora interchange, set to open in November in Leavenworth County, won’t have any personnel on site. All toll booths either will be equipped with K-TAG gates or automatic-payment machines, which operate like ATMs and accept paper bills, coins or payment cards.
“The current economic environment is the most challenging in the 53-year history of our business,” Johnston said.
The turnpike authority also will be selling K-TAG starter kits for $15 apiece through Walgreens stores in communities along the turnpike, as well as in Dillons stores throughout Kansas and AAA offices in Lawrence, Wichita, Manhattan, Topeka and the Kansas City area.
Each kit includes a reader tag to be affixed to a vehicle windshield. Each tag becomes operational immediately, and includes $10 worth of toll credits.
For more information about K-TAG, visit MyKTag.com.