ALBANY, NY (WUTR/WFXV/WPNY) – A new report by New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli found that the New York State Thruway Authority is owed over $275 million in unpaid tolls and other fees.

According to the report, tolls and other related fees – such as fines – make up more than 90 percent of the Thruway Authority’s revenue, and 90 percent of tolls are from users of the E-Z Pass system. In 2021 – the time of the audit – the Thruway Authority collected approximately $804 million from tolls and other fees.

The report also showed that 43% of unpaid tolls and fines are from out of state, which accounts for $119 million in lost revenue for the Authority. The states that owe the most are New Jersey, at $34.2 million, and Connecticut, at $16.7 million.

According to DiNapoli, causes for the lost revenue include a change in collection agencies, suspension of the registration suspension program in January of 2018 – which was halted to make way for the Thruway’s new cashless tolling program –and rejected license plate images that were identifiable and billable. The report – which sampled 161 rejected license plate photos – found that 11% of them should not have been rejected.

Auditors estimated that the Thruway Authority missed out on $7.2 million in unbilled tolls last year based on the number of license plates that were rejected for reasons that were within the Authority’s ability to fix, such as plate photos being too dark or too bright.

“This audit has identified ways in which the Thruway can improve its collection of tolls and fees,” DiNapoli said in a statement. “Based on the Authority’s response, I’m hopeful action will be taken to implement our recommendations to maximize revenue for the Thruway.”

“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,” the Thruway Authority said in a statement. “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.”

Recommendations made by the Comptroller include a smoother transition in collection agencies – should the Thruway Authority require such methods again – and ensuring that rejected images that are found to be incorrectly rejected are billed.

The Comptroller’s Office is in the middle of another audit of the Thruway Authority’s cashless tolling system, which is related to billing accuracy and the handling of consumer complaints.