The Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission has appproved a toll hike of 10 percent for cash-paying customers next year.
The commission's leadership says the rate increase 2-percent for those who pay with EZPass will result in toll-revenue growth of 3 percent.
That revenue growth is necessary to satisfy a $450 million funding obligation to the state.
Those are the numbers.
But the numbers can't override the larger issues and questions.
Why is the state in the turnpike tolling business? How do we know this rate hike is necessary just because of the costs of keeping roads and bridges on the turnpike system up to acceptable conditions? How do we know the state can manage the turnpike system more efficiently than private concerns? The Legislature had a chance to sell off the turnpike system to private concerns a few years ago and thumbed its collective nose at the idea. Why?
And, finally, how long will it take for the state to decide Interstate 80 needs to be tolled to raise more revenue to feed the highway monster and try again to slip that idea past federal authorities?
The next time you are traveling through a turnpike construction zone or bouncing on a bumpy stretch of it, remember that there are very few enterprises that private enterprise can't run more efficiently than government entities.
That sounds harsh, but the plain fact is that private enterprise is bound by a ledger sheet that determines survival and success. Government entities get to spend the money of other people.
It's simply human nature that private enterprise is going to be run with thrift and efficiency.
As long as there are roads, there will be the need to create revenue to keep them in acceptable condition. The future screams for a better way to accomplish that mission.