NEW YORK — There are more than $275 million in unpaid tolls and fees that are owed to the Thruway Authority according to an audit from State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli. And of that money that is still owed, nearly half is from out-of-state drivers.
"This audit has identified ways in which the Thruway can improve its collection of tolls and fees,” DiNapoli said. “Based on the Authority’s response, I’m hopeful action will be taken to implement our recommendations to maximize revenue for the Thruway.”
Tolls and fees are the primary sources of revenue for the Thruway Authority. Around 90% of toll revenue is from E-ZPass holders and the rest is by mail.
In 2021, around 43% of unpaid tolls and fees ($119.3 million) were owed by out-of-state drivers, most of those from vehicles registered in New Jersey and Connecticut.
The collection efforts of overdue tolls were hindered when the Thruway Authority changed collection agencies going into 2021. There was no collection for many months as the new collection agency was established.
The following recommendations were made by DiNapoli:
- Ensure that there is a smooth transition in any change of collection vendors to avoid gaps in service.
- Establish procedures for dismissing violation fees, including the selection criteria that explain why they are being dismissed and the basis for the amounts.
- Review accounts that are eligible to have their vehicle registration suspended to determine where collection efforts will have the best results, and assess the feasibility of entering into registration suspension agreements with more states in addition to Massachusetts.
- Revise the methodology for selecting accounts to refer to DMV for suspension to target persistent violators and accounts nearing the 6-year statute of limitations.
- Ensure that all images rejected by the automated process that are identifiable manually are billed.
- Monitor trends in the incidences of rejected images and take appropriate corrective actions.
A Thruway Authority spokesperson released this statement:
“We’re pleased that many of the State Comptroller’s recommendations affirm actions the Thruway Authority was already undertaking to improve the cashless tolling experience for our customers. Since November 2020, more than 908 million transactions have been processed systemwide, a record 86 percent through E-ZPass. Over the course of the audit period from January 2019 to January 2023, the Thruway Authority collected approximately $3.27 billion in total revenues and maintained rigorous enforcement mechanisms to pursue toll scofflaws. The Thruway remains one of the safest superhighways in the nation and continues to make every effort to collect unpaid tolls. As a user-fee system, the Thruway is not supported by any dedicated federal, state or local taxpayer funding. It is imperative that everyone pay their fair share to keep our tolls some of the lowest in the nation.”