2024 Thruway toll rate hike proposed
The state Thruway Authority is proposing higher tolls starting in 2024.
A memo prepared for Monday’s Thruway Authority meeting proposes a 5% increase in E-ZPass rates starting Jan. 1, 2024, and another 5% increase on Jan. 1, 2027. Those without E-ZPass are proposed to see an increase from 15% more than E-ZPass rates to 75% more than E-ZPass rates.
“The Thruway Authority must continue to review and adjust its current toll rates to sufficiently fund its capital program, operations and debt service,” wrote Matthew Driscoll, state Thruway Authority executive director, in a memo to the authority’s Finance Committee. “The 2023 Thruway Authority Budget currently projects additional revenue needs above the levels generated by the existing toll rates beginning in 2024. Additional revenues will be necessary to allow the Thruway Authority to responsibly meet future capital needs, fund outstanding debt and continue to provide reliable service to its patrons.”
Thruway Authority officials also plan to continue a $2 administrative surcharge for tolls by mail bills for non-E-ZPass drivers to support the administrative costs associated with processing transactions through the Tolls by Mail program and to incentivize more customers to sign up for an E-ZPass account.
Drivers with an E-ZPass whose transponder isn’t mounted correctly and whose transaction is handled by mail will also continue to pay the Tolls by Mail rate.
The board’s likely approval next week is the start of the process. Public hearings will be scheduled before any rate increase can be formally approved.
The 2023 Thruway Authority budget forecasts total Thruway Authority revenues of $889.6 million, a decrease of $8.4 million or .9% less than revised 2022 levels. The toll revenue forecast of $800.7 million is a decrease of $10 million, or 1.2% below revised 2022 levels. The authority is also projecting a $5.9 million, or 7.7%, increase in the costs to administer the E-ZPass and Tolls by Mail program.
“…revenue growth will become insufficient in the future for the Authority to maintain fiscal balance and debt service coverage ratios established in the Authority’s Fiscal Management Guidelines and the minimum pledged to its bondholders in the General Revenue Bond Resolution. Considering the recent landmark investments made into the system and the significant role the Thruway plays in the New York State and regional economies, it is imperative that actions be taken now to enhance operational efficiency and ensure the continued reliability of the system. This item recommends that the Board authorize the Executive Director to begin the public process required to implement a toll adjustment which will support the long-term fiscal stability of the Authority,” Driscoll wrote in his memorandum.
Sen. Rob Ortt, R-Buffalo and state Senate minority leader, quickly criticized the proposed increase while calling on Gov. Kathy Hochul to put an end to the proposed rate increase.
“As record inflation and economic difficulties continue, millions of New Yorkers are struggling to provide for their families this holiday season. Yet rather than trying to help, this state government seems determined to do the opposite,” Ortt said in a news release. “Rather than rein in spending the way most families are doing, unelected bureaucrats appointed by the Governor are moving to siphon more money away from the public and into their own hands. The Thruway Authority’s toll hike proposal would raise prices for New York E-Zpass customers by five percent starting in 2024. For non-E-Zpass users, the toll hike would be 75 percent. Governor Hochul is throwing struggling New Yorkers right under the bus not even three weeks after she’s been reelected. This year-end surprise is cowardly and just plain wrong. I am calling on the Governor to immediately shelve this new tax on driving, and reject any more toll hikes on already struggling New York families.”