Assemblyman Tom Abinanti’s (D-Greenburgh) and Senator David Carlucci’s (D-Clarkstown) “Toll Payer Protection Act” passed the full legislature and cleared the Senate with bipartisan support in a vote of 61-1 last week, and is now headed to Governor Andrew Cuomo’s desk for signing.
The bill responds to numerous complaints about the cashless tolling system used by the Thruway Authority, Metropolitan Transportation Authority and the Port Authority.
In December 2018 Cuomo vetoed the legislation, claiming the proposed legislation made a number of substantial and systematically problematic changes to the capability of toll authorities to both collect tolls and enforce toll violations in the state of New York.
“Assemblyman Abinanti and I have reworked the bill significantly and urge the Governor to sign this version because our current tolling system is not working for the state or drivers,” said Senator Carlucci. “If we are investing millions into cashless tolling, then let us fix the system to ensure drivers get their bills, excessive fines are eliminated, and drivers have a fair way to dispute a toll bill. These fixes are not complicated and will go a long way to safeguard drivers and the state.”
“The Assembly and Senate realize the expanding cashless tolling system in New York State needs reform,” Assemblyman Abinanti said. “The Toll Payer Protection Act will protect motorists from an unfair system and ban the current unconscionable practices of imposing exorbitant fines and penalties.”
The situation leading up to the writing of the bill saw many vehicle owners claiming they never received their toll bills in the mail or were already sent to collections by the time they realized they had an outstanding bill. Additionally, many drivers said the fines and fees were higher than the tolls themselves, leaving them owing thousands to multiple collection agencies. Many drivers going over the Tappan Zee Bridge had racked up thousands of dollars in toll bills, fees and penalties. Some drivers were even left on the side of the road after their cars were seized due to a suspended registration because of unpaid toll bills.
In 2018, about 281,000 people received relief through the State’s Amnesty Program, which was offered to drivers who incurred toll bills going over the Tappan Zee Bridge. Due to a problematic system, the state had to waive more than $1.4 million in toll violations.
Despite billing problems continuing on other major crossings, Carlucci and Abinanti said the State has done little to improve the system or offer relief to drivers.
The new Toll Payer Protection Act requires toll bills be sent to drivers within 30 days or a driver is not liable for the bill. The bill eliminates excessive fines and allows drivers to sign up for text or email alerts notifying them of outstanding bills. Additionally, consumers have the right to dispute fees online and set up a monthly payment plan. Further, a driver’s registration cannot be suspended due to unpaid toll bills.