ALBANY — Tolls on the state Thruway would increase 5% in 2024 followed by another 5% hike in 2027 for most of the statewide highway system under a proposal that could gain final approval next year.
The proposal seeks to further encourage drivers to sign up for the E-ZPass system of electronic tolling, to avoid mailing bills. Beginning Jan. 1, 2024, the added fee for mailed tolls would increase to 75% of the toll, from the current 30%.
Among the proposed increases:
- Tolls for the Gov. Mario M. Cuomo Bridge, formerly the Tappan Zee Bridge, at Westchester and Rockland counties would increase 50 cents per year from Jan. 1, 2024, to Jan. 1, 2027, for passenger vehicles using E-ZPass. The current rate of $5.75 would rise to $7.75 by 2027.
- Tolls would increase to $13.75 by 2027 at the Goethals Bridge, George Washington Bridge and the Holland and Lincoln tunnels.
The Thruway board of directors approved the proposal. Public hearings on the proposed toll increases will be held and a final vote is planned for next year. The executive director and board members are appointed by governors and confirmed by the Senate.
Thruway officials said aging bridges and roadways demand the increases in tolls on the 570-mile highway that extends from New York City to Niagara Falls.
“As a tolling authority, we receive no federal, state or local tax dollars to support our operations,” said Thruway Authority Executive Director Matthew J. Driscoll, an appointee of former Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo.
“We have not seen a system-wide toll increase since 2010, Driscoll said, "and now is the time to move ahead with this financial plan so that we can meet our growing capital investment needs while continuing to provide our customers with the safe and reliable highway they’ve come to expect.”
Critics, however, said the proposed toll increase comes at a particularly hard time for New York drivers of passenger vehicles and truckers.
“We’re coming off an election where nearly every poll we saw or voter we talked to cited ‘inflation’ as their primary concern,” said Assembly Republican leader Will Barclay of upstate Pulaski. “And now Kathy Hochul’s Thruway Authority rolls out a rate increase? Toll hikes would be a tough pill to swallow in normal circumstances. But people have been getting nickel and dimed for more than a year. And they’re rightfully fed up.”
The last increase in Thruway tolls was in 2010, the second of two 5% annual increases. Other parts of tolling increased shortly before then, including a 10% hike in cash tolls in 2008. In 2005, tolls for passenger vehicles rose 25% and tolls for commercial vehicles increased 35%.
In 1982, federal and state officials projected tolls would end in 1996, but that never happened. State officials argued then that eliminating the tolls would increase taxes for maintenance.