ALBANY – State Senator David Carlucci (D, Nanuet) urged the State Thruway Authority to change its policy on the Tolls by Mail surcharges, during the first of a series of virtual public hearings held regarding the proposed toll increases going into effect across the entire Thruway system.
Carlucci said his office has received many reports of residents in the Westchester and Rockland areas receiving enormous penalties from Tolls by Mail, since it became widely practiced during the pandemic. He said many of the residents who have encountered issues are already in financial distress and a two-dollar surcharge, in addition to the huge penalties for not returning payment in the cited timeframe, is hurting their abilities to commute. This would be exacerbated if proposed service cuts from the MTA go through, making transportation extremely difficult for residents in both counties, he said.
The Thruway Authority claims the surcharges are necessary to fund the technology and operation of the Tolls by Mail system. Their proposal encourages New York residents to obtain an EZ Pass and they have included a number of incentives to do so. For instance, the price for Tolls by Mail on the Mario M. Cuomo Bridge at Tappan Zee will increase to $7.48 by 2024, which doesn’t include the two-dollar surcharge. The price for a standard car’s EZ Pass, for the same bridge, will be $5.75 in 2024, a one-dollar increase with no attached surcharge. Commercial vehicles, 5-H through 7-H, will see an increase of 20 percent in 2021 and 30 percent in 2022.
A representative from the Thruway said, “With cashless tolling going into effect next month and with the proposed toll rates taking effect on January 1 of 2021- don’t wait because now is the time to get that New York EZ Pass and start saving money.”
Carlucci told the Thruway Authority imposing a $2 surcharge was “heavy-handed” and there should at least be some forgiveness of fines incurred from Tolls by Mail use.
“I understand that the motivation is to get more people to enroll in EZ Pass and we should be doing everything we can to get people into some sort of method like that; however, that is a very heavy-handed approach and something that could exacerbate people’s financial situations,” said Carlucci.
There will be two more public hearings on the Thruway Authority’s proposal, one on October 14th from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. and one on October 15th from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. A breakdown of the proposal and public comment submissions section can be found on www.thruway.ny.gov.