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Good Question: Why aren't all E-ZPass users charged the same?

August 19, 2019 09:49 AM

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) — You may have heard, the New York State Thruway will soon have all-electronic tolls, which means no more booths. But will a rule you may not know exist, stay in place when the change takes place?

Pat Taney was asked to look into it for this week's Good Question report.

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As it stands now, out of state cars with an E-ZPass device are charged more on the Thruway than New Yorkers with E-ZPass.

Paul Fadgen asked why this is the case and if it will stay in place when New York goes to electronic tolling.

What you pay on the Thruway all depends on where you bought your E-ZPass device.

If it was purchased in New York state, you pay less. If it was bought in a neighboring state, you pay more.

"Right now, New York state charges out of state E-ZPass users more if they bought their tag out of state," said Elizabeth Carey, director of public relations and communications for AAA of Western and Central New York.

Devices bought out of state are charged the cash toll rate or about 5% more.

According to AAA, the state also wants to increase charges for certain drivers going into New York City.

"Now they're proposing to charge out of state drivers 50% more if they cross the George Washington Bridge," Carey said.

New York is not alone. What if you're driving to Massachusetts? 

"Let's say you want to go to a Red Sox game in Boston or Cape Cod, you're going to pay more when you cross into Massachusetts than if you had a tag that was purchased in that state," Carey said.

It's a practice AAA is working to end.

"E-ZPass was founded on the whole idea of interoperability," Carey said. "By charging certain users more than others, it sets a bad practice, it is a bad principal and is not fair to commuters."

AAA also argues it hurts tourism.

When asked for a response, the Thruway Authority believes the practice gives New York drivers, who use the highways the most, a discount. 

To save money, some people who travel often between states, purchase two devices.

"You can buy two different tags, have one from New York state and one from Massachusetts, but that's not user-friendly," Carey said.

Back to our viewer's question. Yes, the state will continue charging out of state E-ZPass users more when the Thruway goes to electronic tolling by the end of next year.

Keep in mind that E-ZPass does not set the prices; individual states set the prices.

If you have a question you'd like answered, send Pat an email at GoodQuestion@whec.com.

Credits

Pat Taney

Copyright 2019 - WHEC-TV, LLC A Hubbard Broadcasting Company

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