ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — In December 2022, the New York State Thruway’s board of directors began the process of implementing a multi-year schedule of systemwide toll increases, which would take effect at the start of 2024, and again at the start of 2027.
New York State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli has responded to this process in a new report, which identified concerns with the proposal and urged the thruway to first improve its operations and maximize non-toll revenues.
This report from DiNapoli’s office reviewed a decade of the thruway’s finances and the toll hike proposal and found gaps in essential information that he says is necessary to evaluate the proposal.
“The Thruway Authority’s toll increase proposal comes at a time of extraordinary challenges for New Yorkers who are faced with rising costs for everything from food to shelter to gas,” DiNapoli said. “The Thruway should be more transparent with the public and disclose critical information and identify and put in place all possible cost-savings and alternative revenue actions to minimize costs to drivers. Raising tolls should be the last option, and the Thruway has more work to do.”
DiNapoli urges the New York State Thruway Authority to address multiple concerns, including:
- Resolve systemwide cashless tolling and TBM issues
- Perform a comprehensive assessment of operating needs and expenses to identify costs that may no longer be necessary
- Maximize non-toll revenue sources, including federal funding as well as revenue streams that could be generated from its assets and infrastructure
- Disclose capital needs assessment to justify cost projections
- This toll increase would also expand the rate differential between New York-issued E-ZPass users and all others. The toll increases are expected to grow toll revenue by 28.4% or $1.9 billion, through 2031.
The previous toll increase occurred when tolls were increased on the Cuomo Bridge in January of 2022 for those who paid through the mail and for drivers out of state, which was another increase on the Cuomo Bridge.
DiNapoli’s report also found that Thruway’s finances and operations have been influenced by five key factors over the last decade:
- Implementation of cashless tolling and problems with the Tolls by Mail system
- Sharp declines in traffic and toll revenues due to the COVID-19 pandemic
- Construction of the Cuomo Bridge
- Debt management practices
- Shifting financial obligations
Read the full report from DiNapoli here.