NIAGARA FALLS, NY (WIVB) – Toll increases are now in effect at most international bridge crossings leading from western New York to Canada.
Those toll increases went into effect Monday without warning, advice, or public input from the Niagara Falls Bridge Commission.
The commission said the rate hikes were needed to try to recoup money lost during the pandemic.
Congressman Brian Higgins is not happy with the toll increases and how they were introduced.
Toll rates have been increased across the board at the Rainbow, Whirlpool and Lewiston-Queenston bridges. Prices at the Friedensbrücke are not affected as it is governed by a separate bridge commission.
Toll increases are now in effect for buses, RVs, sedans, and trucks, but most people will likely notice the car toll increase from $4 to $5.
The Niagara Falls Bridge Commission voted on the toll increases last week on July 25, and the new tariffs went into effect a week later on August 1 with little or no warning.
“There should have been a public hearing, a public notice, and a public hearing for people to get involved, and I think you know that you would get better information from that about where the real problem is,” Higgins said “I would say that, the better answer would be to step up and work with the Canadian-American government to lift all current Covid restrictions.” We have high immunization rates for people from both the United States and Canada.”
Higgins has been highly critical of both the US and Canadian governments in their handling of border restrictions during the pandemic. He has repeatedly urged Canada to scrap testing requirements and use of Canada’s ARRIVECAN app, in what he says is a nuisance.
According to documents from the Niagara Falls Bridge Commission, automobile traffic into Canada fell 73 percent in 2021 compared to 2020 due to border restrictions. Westbound car traffic — tolls — fell 67 percent in 2020 due to Covid. The vast majority of revenue for local bridge authorities comes from tolls.
Last year, the Niagara Falls Bridge Commission said spending exceeded tolls by $7 million.
The NFBC issued this statement:
“The NFBC recently increased their toll rates at the three commission-managed border crossings in the Niagara Region. Because the NFBC does not issue annual toll increases, this change reflected economic conditions and reduced operating revenues due to pandemic traffic reductions and inflationary impacts. Toll rates at NFBC crossings remain at or below average toll rates at other comparable US-Canada border crossings. This increase came into effect on August 1, 2022, following approval by the Commissioners on July 25, 2022.”
Higgins says the toll hikes will be another deterrent for people crossing the border. Peace Bridge chief executive Ron Reinas says there are no plans to increase tolls there.
Reinas says in a phone call that he is not surprised by the rate hikes, noting that local rates are still much lower compared to other bridge crossings. According to Reinas, the bridge is not operating at a deficit or loss due to the pandemic, but is still operating at a small surplus.
Niagara Falls’ Paul Wozniak says he has family in Canada and says he would prefer not to meet all the requirements to enter Canada.
“It used to be so easy, you didn’t need anything, you just left now, you have to go and have special things, especially that, I’m all charged up and Covid, everything you’re going to get problems,” Wozniak said.
He asks where the toll money goes.
“I don’t see any improvement, the lines are getting longer or the time is taking longer. I don’t see any improvement anywhere, what are you paying the premium for?” said Wozniak.
New toll tariffs
automobile: US$5, US$6.50 Canadian (previously: US$4, US$5.50)
The cost of E-ZPass, ExpressPass, Nexus/Toll or In Tow per Axle is the same.
RV/Limousine (per axle): $5, $6.50 (previously: $4, $5.50)
bus (2 Axel): US$15, Canadian$20 (previously: US$12, US$15)
bus (3 axes): US$20, US$26 Canadian (previously: US$15, US$20)
Commercially: As follows below.
- 2 axles: US$7, Canadian$9 Canadian (previously: US$6, US$8)
- 3 axles: US$13, Canadian$17 (previously: US$11, US$15)
- 4 axles: $22, $29 Canadian (previously: $20, $26)
- 5 Axles: $32, $42 Canadian (previously: $30, $39)
- 6 axles: US$46, Canadian$60 (previously: US$44, US$57)
- 7 Axles: US$61, Canadian$79 (previously: US$57, US$74)
- 8 axles: US$74, Canadian$96 (previously: US$68, US$88)
- 9 Axles: $89, $116 Canadian (previously: $80, $103)
- 10 axles: US$104, Canadian$135 (previously: US$95, US$123)
- 11 axles: US$119, Canadian$155 (previously: US$110, US$142)
- 12 axles: US$134, Canadian$174 (previously: US$120, US$155.50)
The current toll rates can be found here.
Jeff Preval is an award-winning anchor and reporter who joined the News 4 team in December 2021. See more of his work here.