NYS Thruway Authority Board Approves Mario Cuomo Bridge Toll Proposal
The New York State Thruway Authority Board of Directors has approved a toll proposal for the Mario M. Cuomo Bridge. And Monday, the Thruway Authority announced the creation of the Offices of the Toll Payer Advocate.
The Thruway Authority, MTA Bridges and Tunnels, and The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey announced the creation of Offices of the Toll Payer Advocate for customers of these tolling agencies. It’s part of an effort to assist customers who are unable to resolve their toll problems using the Customer Service Center, and to recommend reforms as cashless tolling is implemented across the New York State Thruway by the end of 2020. Democratic state Senator David Carlucci has been calling for such an advocate for a few years and says the Toll Payer Advocate offices are a great step in the right direction.
“We have to work to get more residents into E-ZPass so they’re not hit with a rising toll. And, at the same time, those that cannot get E-ZPass for whatever reason, we have to make it easier for residents to dispute tolls, to be able to get a hold of E-ZPass customer service when there’s a problem, and just make it easier and make sure that we’re giving the benefit to the toll payer and not to the toll collecting agency,” Carlucci says. “And that’s what I find, that we’ve worked with many residents that have just fallen into a trap with cashless tolling and there are still many ways, I believe, that we can make it easier and better, a system that’ll work better for everyone.”
This comes less than one week after the Thruway Authority Board of Directors proposed new tolls for the Mario Cuomo Bridge, including a discount for Rockland and Westchester residents that would hold the current $4.75 E-ZPass rate through 2022. Carlucci’s 38th District includes the Rockland side of the bridge.
“So we have a victory in finally having a residents’ toll freeze for the next couple years for Rockland and Westchester residents,” says Carlucci. “So I’m very excited about that.”
State Thruway Authority CFO Matt Howard says the E-ZPass resident discount likely would stay the same for even a few years longer.
“It would hold those rates through 2022 and, I believe, actually the projections are based on the notion that that rate would continue beyond that through 2024,” Howard says.
The resident discount was something local lawmakers and area residents had been urging, including during a Toll Advisory Panel’s public listening sessions over the summer. Howard says the panel heeded input about keeping tolls as low as possible.
“We did that through the creation of a new resident discount program for residents of Westchester and Rockland County as well as an enhanced commuter plan that will continue to provide a 40 percent discount from the base New York E-ZPass rate going forward,” Howard says.
Howard outlines a timeline for the entire proposal.
“It’s been 10 years since the last toll increase took effect on the Thruway. The vote last week basically was to begin a process that’s going to unfold over the course of the next year. We think that that would probably take anywhere from six-to-eight months,” says Howard. “And, again, during that time in 2020, the tolls remain frozen. The first increases begin in 2021, and, as I said before, if you’re a New York E-ZPass customer, your rates outside of the bridge will remain unchanged.”
Under the proposal, tolls by mail, which currently run $5, would rise to $6.83 in 2021 and $7.48 in 2022. Rates for New York E-ZPass holders would increase $0.50 in 2021 and again in 2022, bringing the current rate of $4.75 to $5.75 in 2022.