WILLIAMSVILLE, N.Y. -- The New York State Thruway Authority plans on changing the exchange rate for Canadian money used at tolls throughout the Thruway.

That rate, currently at 20 percent, has not changed since the Canadian dollar dipped below 80 American cents in mid-2014. That means, since then, the already cash-strapped Thruway has been losing money when people pay with Canadian currency.

The actual market rate is currently about 30 percent, with day-to-day fluctuations. That means a Canadian dollar is about 70 American cents. So, the Thruway is offering a great deal for anyone with Canadian currency.

“On every dollar of Canadian, we lose 20 cents here,” a toll booth attendant explained on Thursday.
We drove through tolls booths to confirm the math.

When 2 On Your Side called the Thruway Authority and asked why its exchange hasn't changed to meet the market, they told me they watch the market, but can only change their rate periodically. After two days of questions from 2 On Your Side, the agency sent us a statement by e-mail, telling us they’re about to roll out a change.

It says: "…based on the recent changes in value of the Canadian dollar, we are moving ahead to implement an adjustment to the discount rate. This increase will better reflect the current market conditions and allow for a fair exchange in areas closer to the Canadian border."

That's a big deal because until then the Thruway Authority will continue to lose money as it has for about a year and a half. We could not quantify an exact dollar amount, but you can imagine it's significant in an area with a lot of traffic and a lot of people with Canadian cash.

There's more. Not only does the Thruway lose money, but a clever commuter could actually make money now and until the Thruway changes its rate.

Here’s the math:

  • We paid our 15 cent toll with a Canadian $5.
  • The Thruway toll booth attendant said it was worth $4 dollars American (that’s your 20 percent exchange).
  • Subtract the toll, and we're left with $3.85 American.
  • Do the conversion BACK to Canadian, and you have $5.50 Canadian, which is 50 cents MORE than we started with!
  • We paid six tolls over two days and got the same result every time.

The Thruway Authority has not announced a date for changing its rate.