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Peace Bridge tolls rising, but those with E-Z Pass will get a break

Car and truck traffic are down considerably since border was closed to all but essential traffic due to the pandemic since March 21.

BUFFALO, N.Y. — Once you can travel to and from Canada again, get ready to pay more at the toll plaza, that is, unless you have an EZ Pass.

The Peace Bridge Authority approved its 2021 budget which includes new toll rates starting on December 1, 2020.

If you have, or plan to have an EZ pass, a round-trip toll to and from Canada will rise from $3.75 US to $4 US.  In an effort to minimize the handling of cash and credit at the toll booth, those without an EZ Pass will pay $6 US starting December 1 and $8 starting March 1, 2021.

“It is important that we reduce the Covid-19 health risk for employees and the public and we encourage as many people as possible to use E-ZPass,” according to Vice-chairman Tim Clutterbuck. “Unlike other toll entities the PBA does not have the ability to read license plates to implement a toll-by-mail system nor does it have the legal authority to enforce non-payment, so having a differential rate that discourages the handling of cash or credit cards is really the only means available.”

Mr. Clutterbuck also noted that “the New York State Thruway system will be fully cashless next month and most toll authorities, including Highway 407 in Ontario, impose significant surcharges for not using an electronic transponder.”

The Authority said since the border shut down in March, car traffic is down 94% and truck traffic down 13%. 

“The PBA is 100% self-reliant on tolls and rental income and this budget reflects the devastating impact that the pandemic and the border closure has had on our business” said Chairman Ken Manning. “Because the Peace Bridge is considered essential it must remain open 7/24 to facilitate bi-national supply chains and other permitted travel as well as to provide services to CBSA and CBP in support of their missions.”

In addition to the toll hike, the PBA said it has worked to reduce expenses by cutting or deferring capital projects and cutting overall staffing by 26% Because it is a public entity, it has not been eligible for any COVID relief assistance from either the US or Canada.

EZ Pass transponders can be purchased at the toll booths or online here.