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 neccessary
  • 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 the 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.

Spokesperson for The New York State Thruway Authority Jennifer Givner responded to DiNapoli’s assessment:

New Yorkers have two ways to pay for their highways – tax dollars or toll dollars.  The Thruway Authority is operated and maintained solely as a user-fee system, and is not supported by any federal, state or local taxpayer funding. Thruway toll revenues are projected to decline $240 million [over 2020- 2025] from levels prior to COVID.  The Authority did not receive any portion of the funds New York received as part of the federal Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act nor any funds from other COVID Relief programs. The annual growth rate for Thruway operating budgets averaged less than two percent increases over the 2010 – 2022 period. Our toll revenue continues to go directly toward making the Thruway one of the safest highways in the nation. The toll adjustment proposal announced in December [when it takes effect] would be the first in 14 years for NY E-ZPass customers outside of the Mario Cuomo Bridge and toll rates on the Thruway will continue to be some of the lowest in the nation. We believe this modest proposal will begin to raise additional revenue to support the long-term financial needs of New York’s main transportation corridor and engine for economic activity. We would be happy to discuss this with the Office of the State Comptroller at any time.