By Matthew J. Driscoll
With the conversion to cashless tolling in March, the Thruway Authority is creating a modern superhighway that's better able to handle the approximately 23 million annual tolled trips across our bridges. Motorists no longer need to stop at a toll booth — they can maintain highway speeds and save approximately 200 minutes on the Thruway every year.
We've heard from a number of motorists since we made the transition to cashless and there seems to be some confusion on how to pay.
The most important thing to remember is that if motorists pay on time, they won't be hit with penalties. Violations, which come with a $50 per trip penalty, only appear on bills after 90 to 100 days — that's three months and two unpaid bills after you go through the toll.
Tolls by mail: Drivers without E-ZPass will receive a toll bill in the mail. There are various payment options available to pay by credit card or check. Customers can also pay online before a bill arrives by entering their license plate on the website or they can pre-pay before taking a planned trip. If your plans change, you won't get charged. State law requires motorists to keep their address current with the DMV — if your address is not current, you won't receive a bill and could face penalties greater than tolls.
With the transition, we're hearing that most customers without E-ZPass are in fact receiving their toll bills in the mail but for some reason, they're pushing them aside and not paying them. We want to urge our customers to pay their toll bills on time to avoid late fees and penalties of $50 per trip.
How to avoid penalties: Customers will not be charged any late fees or penalties if they pay upon first receiving the bill in the mail. Failing that you can pay when the second bill arrives in your mailbox and we'll only charge you a one-time $5 late fee. But, if you avoid paying the bills we send you, we'll mail you a violation notice in 90 to 100 days that adds $50 per trip, and those penalties add up fast.
Save money with E-ZPass: While Tolls By Mail is an easy payment option, there's no better time to sign up for E-ZPass. New York E-ZPass customers receive a discount on their tolls along the entire 570-mile system, every day. There are also additional discount plans available for motorists to save even more.
You can get an E-ZPass On-the-Go tag at one of more than 800 retailers around the state for $25. When you go online to activate it, the $25 is fully applied to your account for toll payment.
As the Thruway moves toward the system-wide expansion of cashless tolling in 2020, we are committed to providing an improved customer experience by educating our motorists about the cashless tolling system, as well as the benefits of using E-ZPass.
Matthew J. Driscoll is executive director of the New York State Thruway Authority.