Archive for Thursday, August 27, 2009

Turnpike tolls going up

A Lawrence trash truck goes through the K-Tag turnpike toll gate to enter Interstate 70 from North Iowa Street on a Thursday morning in April

A Lawrence trash truck goes through the K-Tag turnpike toll gate to enter Interstate 70 from North Iowa Street on a Thursday morning in April

August 27, 2009, 1:15 p.m. Updated August 27, 2009, 5:04 p.m.


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.

Turnpike tolls to increase

Tolls on the Kansas Turnpike will increase starting October 1. The increases will only apply to those paying with cash and not to those touting a K-Tag pass. Enlarge video

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


Susan Lee 8 years, 8 months ago

Please explain the logic.

Those who use the road daily will pay less than those who use it occasionally?

Large trucks (which do the most damage to the roadway surface) will have a smaller increase?

nut_case 8 years, 8 months ago

Scattered - fair use / paying for your share went out the door a long time ago. This is simply a money grab. The economy is down, people are making less money, tax revenues are stagnant or dropping - so what is the government to do???

The logical thing would be to cut back on spending and bring themselves in line with what most American families are doing - cutting back and saving where we can. But why do that when it is so easy to up taxes and fees and rake in more money from the public (at least for a little while).

The problem is - this philosophy assumes we're all out cruising the turnpike for fun and sightseeing. But I'd bet 99% + of the traffic out there are people just trying to get to/from work. It already costs nearly a buck and a half to get from Lawrence to KC, and almost a buck to go Lawrence to Topeka. This is simply a 15% tax on working people.

Bob Burton 8 years, 8 months ago


Get a K-Tag if you use the Turnpike often!! The K-Tag fees are staying the same..

budwhysir 8 years, 8 months ago


If you where going to make a large profit, would you charge more to the people who dont come around much or those who come around every day??? supply in demand, you supply the money they demand more

somedude20 8 years, 8 months ago

Fat people put more stress/weight on the road so let them pay for the 15% tax with their doughnut and milkshake money!

jhawk926 8 years, 8 months ago

That's funny dude!

Seriously, I like what they are doing, keep the toll the same for the people that use it the most (K-Tags), then bump up the income of KTA with people from out of state.

Eugehne Normandin 8 years, 8 months ago

Why is the toll diffferent for people who can not pay with credit cards ???

ClaroAtaxia 8 years, 8 months ago


If you don't want your every move tracked then you better stop using a cell phone, credit card, and internet. Welcome to the digital age my friend.

SettingTheRecordStraight 8 years, 8 months ago

It's a tollway, not a "turnpike."

"Turnpike" is marketing spin to make you feel better about giving more of your money to the government.

Scott Drummond 8 years, 8 months ago

15% increase in revenue + 10% reduction in labor costs = ?

mach58 8 years, 8 months ago

You guys do realize the state doesn't (and never had) contribute tax dollars to the turnpike? It's a simple use fee. You use it, you pay it.

The tolls go to pay back bondholders who finance the construction and maintenance of the turnpike. As to why issuing bonds are necessary, try and see if the construction companies would agree to be repaid over 30 years (hint: you won't get far).

The state will likely never take over the turnpike, as the road would just add to the state's liability, without any increase in revenue. If you don't like the turnpike, either move closer or find a different route.

lounger 8 years, 8 months ago

Lets see-this was supposed to be taken away (the Tolls) when the project was done and payed for-When was that 1985?

corduroypants 8 years, 8 months ago

Barry, next time in English please.

btw - that is possibly the most depressing photo I've ever seen. Sad old trash truck in the rain next to some mud. Compelling.

nlf78 8 years, 8 months ago

Isn't the k-tag a sticker now? What tricks have people used to avoid applying it PERMANENTLY to the windshield of one car. If I consider buying a ktag, I want to be able to use it in either of my cars.

Matt Warman 8 years, 8 months ago

Just move the toll booth west of Lawrence and I don't care because that is all the further I go.

georgiahawk 8 years, 8 months ago

Isn't the KTA a privately help company? What is it's connection to the government? Does anybody know?

nathan 8 years, 8 months ago

Effective story at motivating me to finally purchase I K-Tag. The online buying process is surprisingly pretty smooth.

samsnewplace 8 years, 8 months ago

copy over from may 8, 2007 by myself: The Kansas Turnpike was built from 1954 to 1956, I realize it takes money to keep it in good condition, but I also realize how much it is used. My question, how many times over has this road been paid for already? I know it is a very well used road, I travel it on a daily basis and so do several thousands of other people.

And: So I guess I have finally saw the day that paying with CASH was costlier or a bad thing? If you run more k-tag lanes, aren't you putting more peoples jobs on the line? Why are you taking away the human element from people who have spent their life working for the KTA? You cannot convince me that jobs won't be lost due to more K-Tag lanes.

66044 8 years, 8 months ago

This is ridiculous. I have heard my entire life that the damn road would soon be payed off and rates would dramatically drop or go away completely. While on that note i do believe that when the ROI was met the state was then to take over the road/purchase the road from the bond holders. While bond holders own the road the KTA will make decision that better suit the bond holders not our communitys. I do not think we will ever see a day the road is payed off and we will be really paying only for maintenance and additional areas to gain access. It sure would be in our best interest if the state owned the highway, to say the least.

  1. Ever increasing rates with the lure of soon to be dramatic drops in rates as the toll road is close to being payed off. (seems every 7 to 10 years the date is pushed forward 7 to 10 years)
  2. The KTA never ending drive to reduce human employment including investing in automatic booths which help to extend the payed off date on the toll road. This goes as far as their never ending drive to add new access areas, service areas, adding k-tag lanes and so forth.

It seems to me that the initial plans of the turnpike have been dramatically detoured, lol I still believe the highway is best in control of the toll road as im sure most the states citizens would agree. Im unsure if the state is ready to take the challenge though lol Maybe this is why they keep approving further construction and extention of the toll road. When if the state does finally take over the road prices could be dropped, maintenance and further construction maintained, as well as the state could see a GREATLY NEEDED ROI which spreads Kansas money around Kansas and further gaining money form outside Kansas as out of state users use the road. THIS WAS THE ORIGINAL PLAN OF THE TOLL ROAD 50 some odd years ago......

66044 8 years, 8 months ago

'I still believe the highway is best in control of the toll road as im sure most of the states citizens would agree." Is suppose to read "I still believe the state is best in control of the toll road as im sure most of the states citizens would agree."

Shoulda proof read, :)

66044 8 years, 8 months ago

Some interesting figures

The KTA estimates 120000 users use the turnpike everyday. Im unsure of the average price charged per user but im assuming a good deal are traveling within the northeast Kansas area. Lets assume the average cost is 1 dollar per user which i personally think is being very modest. This equates to 120,000 dollars a day or 43,800,000 dollars annually. The entire trip of the toll road is nearly ten dollars at current for a two axle vehicle. This means that the KTA has the potential to make up to 1,200,000 dollars per day or 438,000,000 per year. Many users are more than two axle and many travel the full distance of the toll or loss their ticket, only the KTA could give accurate numbers but i doubt their honesty. The ultimate fact is that a good deal of this money comes directly from northeast Kansas and then goes out of Kansas all together....

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