Two Democrats in the state Senate who represent suburban New York districts are formally opposing a proposed increase in Thruway toll prices.
Thruway Authority officials are considering the first toll increase for E-Z Pass tagholders since 2010, with a plan that would increase tolls by 5% in 2024 and another 5% in 2027.
Opposition from state lawmakers in both parties underscores the politically unpopular move to raise tolls on the system. But Thruway officials have said the toll increases are necessary to strengthen infrastructure on the system, which is funded almost entirely by tolls.
Some lawmakers have also proposed ways to override any toll increases by the Thruway Authority.
State Sen. Shelley Mayer, however, urged Thruway officials to reconsider, pointing to a recent audit by Comptroller Tom DiNapoli's office of the Thruway Authority that found toll collection is lagging following the switch to electronic tolls.
“I oppose the proposed toll increases on the NYS Thruway, and urge the Thruway Authority to withdraw this proposal," she said. "While I am pleased that the Thruway Authority’s proposal maintains the commuter discount off the NY E-ZPass rate for those who opt into the commuter program, the recent report of Comptroller Tom DiNapoli strongly suggests that the Thruway Authority needs to do more to improve efforts at toll collection, improve its accounting, and increase transparency with more comprehensive reporting of costs and losses. All of these efforts should be undertaken before imposing a toll increase.”
Sen. Peter Harckham, a fellow Democrat like Mayer, agreed. Both lawmakers submitted testimony this week to oppose the toll increase proposal.
“Proposed toll increases from the NYS Thruway Authority deserve necessary scrutiny because of the impact they will have on Westchester and Rockland County commuters and small business owners. While road maintenance and construction certainly are expected to ensure driver safety, it is important that the Thruway Authority not simply rely on bridge and roadway tolls to cover costs," he said. "I’m grateful the NY E-Z Pass discount is being maintained for commuters on the Cuomo Bridge but unrealized revenue because of scofflaws needs to be addressed before tolls are raised.”