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Another Voice: Thruway Authority urges use of New York E-ZPass to avoid toll hike

By Matthew Driscoll

The Thruway Authority is moving ahead with a proposal to adjust tolls on the Thruway beginning Jan. 1, 2021 – the first since 2010 – after we have converted to cashless tolling system-wide by the end of 2020.

I want to clarify what this means for motorists in Western New York, and how the proposed changes will impact our customers.

Simply stated, if you have a New York E-ZPass, your tolls will remain the same, and so I urge all New Yorkers to get an E-ZPass in the coming year. For example, NY E-ZPass customers with the Thruway Grand Island Commuter Plan or Resident Plan will not see any impact to their toll rates. Neither would a daily commuter like the thousands of motorists who use the Lackawanna toll plaza to the west, the Williamsville toll plaza to the east, or anywhere else on the Thruway system, except for the Gov. Mario M. Cuomo Bridge. Your NY E-ZPass toll rate will remain the same.

Following the Thruway’s conversion to system-wide cashless tolling and beginning Jan. 1, 2021, motorists who do not have an E-ZPass will be charged the Tolls by Mail rate under this proposal.

Tolls by Mail is currently used at cashless tolling locations on the Thruway such as the Grand Island bridges and it takes a picture of a vehicle’s license plate and sends customers a bill in the mail.

As part of the proposal, customers without E-ZPass who receive a bill in the mail would pay 30 percent above the base NY E-ZPass rate, and a $2 administrative surcharge per billing statement. Motorists who have an out-of-state E-ZPass would pay 15 percent more than the NY E-ZPass rate.

If you do not currently have a NY E-ZPass, I urge you to consider getting one before 2021. E-ZPass is for everyone, and there are discount plans to match your needs, regardless of how often you travel on the Thruway. Additionally, you do not have to be a New York resident to have a NY E-ZPass. Anyone, including Canadian residents, can sign up for a NY E-ZPass.

With cashless tolling going into effect by the end of 2020, and with the proposed billing changes taking effect Jan. 1, 2021, don’t wait – now is the time to sign up for a NY E-ZPass and start saving money.

You may not be aware but E-ZPass tags are sold at more than 900 locations statewide, including convenience stores, supermarkets, municipal offices, DMV offices, AAA locations and more. You can find a location near you at thruway.ny.gov/getezpass.

As part of the process, the Thruway Authority will be holding public hearings this year to gather feedback on the proposal. We encourage Western New York residents to contact us with any questions.

Matthew J. Driscoll is executive director of the New York Thruway Authority.

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