Canal Corp. will waive tolls for recreational boats the next 3 years
Press Release, NYS Canal Corp.
The New York State Canal Corporation Board of Directors today approved a continued waiver of tolls for recreational vessels through 2021, following two years of toll-free travel that saw increases in canal traffic.
The tolls, $25 to $100 depending on the size of the boat, had been waived in 2017 and 2018 to celebrate the Erie Canal bicentennial and the 100-year anniversary of the New York State Barge Canal, now known as the New York State Canal System.
“We had initially waived the tolls for special occasions, but the increased patronage of the canals is also a cause for celebration,” said Gil C. Quiniones, president and CEO of the New York Power Authority, which oversees the state Canal System. “Come spring, we hope even more boaters will find out why the canals make for a unique experience on the water.”
Tolls will continue to be collected for commercial vessels.
Motorized pleasure boat traffic on the state Canal System increased 3 percent over last year as boaters took advantage of tolls being waived. Such vessels—the most-common type on the canals—were recorded traveling through Canal System locks and lift bridges 71,529 times during the 2018 navigation season, compared to 69,362 lockings in 2017.
The figures account for each time a boat goes through a lock or under a lift bridge, not the actual number of boats. If a boat travels through several locks it would be counted as locking through each time.
In a related move, the New York State Canal Corporation today announced the navigation season dates for recreational vessels for 2019-2021. Each year, the season will begin the Friday of the week before Memorial Day and end the Wednesday after Columbus Day. For example, the 2019 season will run from May 17 to Oct. 16. The dates are in line with the navigation seasons for the last two years.
“We sought to have a more predictable schedule for the thousands of boaters who use the canals,” said Brian U. Stratton, Canal Corporation director. “Announcing the dates now will provide mariners, communities and business interests along the canal corridor with ample advance notice to plan itineraries and events.”
The navigation season is designed to optimize conditions and productivity for critical maintenance and capital work that can only be performed when canals are closed. Traditionally, the canals have been kept open later in the year when very little boating occurred, forcing Canal Corporation employees and contractors to compact work schedules and work in more dangerous conditions.
The new schedule allows for increased productivity, while continuing navigation during periods when the overwhelming majority of boaters have historically used the canals – with the greatest usage between Memorial Day and Labor Day.
The Canal Corporation also announced it is reviewing the hours of operation during the navigation season in response to feedback from recreational boaters, vessel operators, and canal businesses. Operating hours for 2019 will be announced in April.
The dates are subject to change based on weather conditions and water levels.