Buffalo in the 50s: It’s easy to catch tolls cheaters

By Steve Cichon

Anyone who ever threw coins into the “exact change” basket at the Ogden or Breckenridge tolls wondered: How would it know if I threw in the wrong amount?

Motorists were wondering that as soon as the highway opened, and while Thruway officials say cheaters were few and far between, two early cheaters were arrested and fined $50.

The most interesting part of the accompanying article comes in the last paragraph, when it’s explained by Thruway brass that “the traveling public has been sold on the convenience of a super highway and is adjusting to the thought that it should be paid for by its users.”

When the city portion of the I-190 opened on July 30, 1959, cars paid 15 cents to access the road. By 2006, when the Thruway Authority stopped collecting tolls at Breckenridge and South Ogden, the cost had climbed to 75 cents for cars.

“It’s easy to catch toll cheaters”

“The percentage of persons attempting to ‘beat the toll’ in the exact change lanes of the Niagara Thruway’s Buffalo barrier is ‘infinitesimal,’ Division Toll Supervisor William A. Hall said today.”

The toll booths were torn down in 2007.

News reporter Jay Bonfatti could only find one person nostalgic for the tollbooths as they came down, but he did find plenty of rejoicing.

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Steve Cichon

Steve Cichon writes about Buffalo’s pop culture history. His stories of Buffalo's past have appeared more than 1600 times in The Buffalo News. He's a proud Buffalonian helping the world experience the city he loves. Since the earliest days of the internet, Cichon's been creating content celebrating the people, places, and ideas that make Buffalo unique and special. The 25-year veteran of Buffalo radio and television has written five books and curates The Buffalo Stories Archives-- hundreds of thousands of books, images, and audio/visual media which tell the stories of who we are in Western New York.