ALBANY — A new 30 percent surcharge on passenger vehicles without an E-ZPass will take effect Jan. 1 on the New York State Thruway.
The Thruway Authority’s Board of Directors voted unanimously Tuesday morning to impose the surcharge, which had been proposed as part of the transition to cashless tolling.
Such surcharges are standard nationally for cashless tolling systems, the authority has said.
On Nov. 13, the Thruway became one of those systems, with human toll collectors stepping out of their booths for the last time. Phased demolition of the booths themselves began soon after.
The $355 million project announced in January 2018 has erected a network of overhead E-ZPass scanners and license plate cameras along the highway.
The goal is to reduce congestion at busy toll plazas, to the benefit of motorists and the environment. When the toll booths are all removed and the driving lanes realigned, motorists will drive through at as much as highway speeds if the ramps can handle such speeds safely — with no need to stop and pay a toll by cash or slow way down in the designated E-ZPass lane.
Aside from the Gov. Mario M. Cuomo Bridge near New York City, there will be no increases in Thruway tolls this year.
Motorists without the E-ZPass will nonetheless be paying a lot more, thanks to the 30 percent toll surcharge, plus a $2 monthly handling fee for the mailed bill.
The Thruway Authority has advised motorists who opt to pay by mail to be sure their correct mailing address is registered with the state Department of Motor Vehicles. Toll bills that don’t reach the motorist and don’t get paid do accrue penalties.
Systemwide, E-ZPass accounted for 79.7% of all Thruway tolls paid in July 2020, up from 76.7% in July 2019.
The ranks of toll collectors have been steadily shrinking since E-ZPass was introduced in 1993.
On their final day on the job last month, there were about 1,100 collectors remaining throughout the system — 200 full-timers and 900 part-timers. Those with enough years of service were able to retire. The others were offered job counseling, training and resources to qualify for new jobs with the Thruway Authority, other state agencies or the private sector.