Thruway goes cashless in November, Authority announces 2021 toll hike but not for EZPass

Thruway goes cashless in November, Authority announces 2021 toll hike but not for EZPass Photo: News10NBC.

Berkeley Brean
Updated: October 13, 2020 06:05 PM
Created: October 13, 2020 05:59 PM

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) — Tuesday, the New York State Thruway Authority said it is going to raise tolls on the thruway.

But there's a catch: It's only for cars and trucks that don't have EZPass.


Here's how it breaks down.

Starting Jan. 1, 2021, if you have EZPass the tolls remain the same. Vehicles without EZPass will pay an additional 30%.

"Simply stated, beginning Jan. 1, 2021, New York EZPass customers outside of those who use the Gov. Mario M. Cuomo Bridge will not be impacted by the proposal," Thruway Authority Executive Director Matt Driscoll said. "Toll rates for EZPass customers on the rest of the system will remain the same. If a customer does not have an EZPass they will use tolls-by-mail. Equipment on gantries will take a picture of the license plate and we will send the registered owner of the vehicle a bill in the mail. For those who are toll-by-mail customers, they will be charged 30% more than the EZPass toll rate. In addition, to a $2 administrative surcharge per billing statement."

So the drive from the Victor exit to I-81 in Syracuse with EZPass will remain $3.05. Without EZPass the toll goes up to $4.16. 

The toll hike coincides with an even bigger change to the thruway. 

In November, the exact date hasn't been picked yet, the thruway goes to a cashless system making the old fashion way of getting a ticket, paying a toll or going through the narrow EZPass lane is over. 

Instead, your EZPass or your license plate will be read by those new readers that span exits or the highway called "gantries." 

"We have offices in Buffalo, Rochester, Syracuse," said Peter Bruu.

His company called Access installs wheelchair ramps and elevators.

"And when you're sitting on the Thruway you're wondering what's going on with all that construction."

His specific question to us is about the gantries. 

Brean: "What are you curious about?"

Peter Bruu, EZPass holder: "Sure. So if there are gantries at every exit and every entrance, why do they also have gantries going over the Thruway itself?"

We asked the Thruway Authority that question. 

The answer is "in short, they are located over the mainline (or) interchanges depending on traffic counts. higher traffic interchanges are over the mainline."

The authority's website shows the difference.

Because of the amount of traffic from Canandaigua to LeRoy, the gantries are over the highway not at the exits. If you look at a lower traffic area — between Manchester and Weedsport, the gantries at the exits. 

We also got questions about how you pay the tolls.

If you have an EZPass, there's really no change. The gantries will read your EZPass just like they do at the interchanges right now. If you don't have an EZPass the gantries will read and take a picture of your license plate and the bill will be sent to the address of the registered owner. Starting Jan. 1, 2021, the tolls for non EZPass customers will be 30% higher.

"So if you do not currently have a New York EZPass, I strongly urge you to consider getting one as soon as possible," Driscoll said. "Don't wait, because now is the time to sign up and get that New York EZPass and start saving money."

More questions: 

Q: What about out of state vehicles or rental cars? 

A: The authority says the gantries take pictures "of their license plates and a bill is mailed to the registered owner of the vehicle. this includes rental vehicles."

Q: Will the state use the cashless system to monitor vehicle speeds and will that be used to issue tickets? 

A: The authority says "absolutely not."

The state doesn't have a specific date to go live. It still has to test the system to make sure the gantries work. 
The state says it'll happen sometime in November. Then they have to tear out the toll booths and reconfigure the entrances and exits. 

The New York cashless system is based on the system in Massachusetts which started in 2016. We asked the Massachusetts Department of Transportation a series of questions so we can compare to New York. 

Q: After MA went to cashless tolling, did the turnpike toll revenue increase, decrease or remain roughly the same? 

A: After MA went to cashless tolling, revenue received from roads which were tolled remained about the same as prior to when MA had toll booths where cash payments were accepted. 

Q: How does MA bill rental vehicles – cars, moving vans – especially if the plates are out of state without EZPass? 

A: Mass E-ZPass bills rental vehicle companies directly.

Q: How does MA bill vehicles with out of state plates without and without a cashless toll reader like EZPass? 

A: Mass E-ZPass bills vehicles with out of state plates without cashless toll readers, such as E-ZPass, by obtaining vehicle registration information via the home state's Department of Motor Vehicles or Registry of Motor Vehicles.

Q: How does MA bill vehicles with plates from Canada? 

A: Mass E-ZPass bills vehicles with plates from Canada through third party address companies where it is possible.

Q: Does MA use the cashless tolling system to ticket vehicles for speeding? 

A: The Massachusetts E-ZPass system is not used to ticket vehicles for speeding.

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