Thruway Authority approves potential rate hikes starting in 2024
It looks like tolls on the New York State Thruway will go up for the first time in 14 years, but the public will get to weigh in on that plan before it goes into effect.
The Thruway Authority met Monday and approved a measure to allow Board Chair Joanie Mahoney to start the process that would increase E-ZPass toll rates by 5% percent in 2024 and 2027.
Mahoney said the Authority has a responsibility to maintain the infrastructure, and with revenues declining and money lost due the pandemic, she said she hasn’t heard of any other solution.
“COVID decimated revenues, we received none of that federal money that other organizations did to mitigate that loss,” said Mahoney. “We have a responsibility to maintain the infrastructure, and this is safety. And for me, you know, it's very easy to just say, no, we don't want toll increases. But I haven't heard any other solutions.”
To try to put the proposed increase in perspective, Thruway Authority Chief Financial Officer Matt Howard said tolls on one of the busiest stretches of the road, between Albany and Schenectady will go from 27 cents to 29 cents in 2027.
“So if you think about it, the plan is limiting the increase over a 17-year timespan from 2010 through 2027 for one of our most traveled quarters across the entire system to two cents, Howard said, adding that going forward, this formal process will include public hearings, and ample opportunities for public comments on the proposed changes.
The biggest change will be for Thruway users who do not have an E-ZPass tag. Currently, the toll-by-mail rate is 30% higher than tolls for E-ZPass customers. Starting January 1, 2024, that differential would rise to 75%.
Even with the increase, the Authority maintains the Thruway will still have some of the lowest toll rates in the country.
There will be public meetings across the state and the Thruway Authority will take comments from organizations across New York on its proposed toll increase.
WRVO's Jason Smith contributed to this story.