The New York State Thruway Authority board today proposed toll increases for the new Mario M. Cuomo Bridge that are considerably lower than many people had speculated. The board also proposed a new discount plan for Westchester and Rockland residents that would have the effect of freezing tolls for them through 2022.
The authority’s board met via teleconference today with some board members in Albany while others were in Syracuse and Tarrytown. The board voted to begin the formal rulemaking process for adjusting toll rates. The process will include meetings and public hearings and is expected to culminate in a final vote late next year. The board was told that cashless tolling would be in place on the entire Thruway at the end of 2020.
The current standard rate for using the Cuomo Bridge by a driver with a New York E-ZPass is $4.75. It would rise to $5.25 in 2021 and $5.75 in 2022. Out-of-state E-ZPass users currently pay $5. Their toll would go up to $6.04 in 2021 and $6.61 in 2022.
Residents of Westchester and Rockland who use E-ZPass now pay $4.75 and their rate would remain at $4.75 through 2022 under the new resident discount plan that is being proposed. Commuters using E-ZPass currently pay $3; a minimum of 20 trips a month over the bridge are required to qualify. The commuter rate would go up to $3.15 in 2021 and $3.45 in 2022. Drivers without E-ZPass who would be billed by mail currently pay $5. Their rate would go to $6.83 in 2021 and $7.48 in 2022, plus a $2 surcharge for each bill mailed to them.
Rates for commercial vehicles on the Cuomo Bridge would increase by 31% in 2021 and 30% in 2022. Pricing depends on the type of vehicle. In one commercial category, a Class 5H tandem tractor trailer currently pays $32.75 with a New York E-ZPass or billing by mail. It would go to $55.77 with a New York E-ZPass in 2022, or $72.51 for billing by mail.
Matt Howard, chief financial officer of the Thruway Authority, said that rates for commercial vehicles would be adjusted to bring them closer to rates charged at other crossings in the New York Metro area. He said that 45% of the traffic on the bridge in 2022 would be paying less than the full $5.75 E-ZPass rate.
Robert Megna, chair of the authority’s finance committee, said, “I have been associated with the Thruway now through all of the conversations of $10 increases in the toll, $7 increases in the tolls, $58 increases in the tolls, all through this past decade and the period that we lived through while the bridge was being constructed. I think because of the efforts of the Thruway to control costs, which have been dramatic, because of the governor and the legislature’s ability to make contributions to the Thruway program, we are sitting in a place where we are talking about modest and needed increases.”
Matt Driscoll, the Thruway Authority’s executive director, said that the plan freezing tolls for Westchester and Rockland residents was a result of hearing from local residents during panel discussions.
“They urged us to include commuter and resident discount programs and reminded us that the bridge is pivotal to the lower Hudson economy. We heard them loud and clear and used their opinions to help inform our proposal.”
Joanie Mahoney, chair of the Thruway Authority, said, “As we look to the future our goal is to keep tolls as low as possible for the traveling public.”