The New York Thruway Authority has again postponed a meeting where it was expected to vote on a controversial proposal to increase tolls on commercial trucks by 45%. Originally, the Thruway’s board was scheduled to meet last Friday to vote on the hike. That meeting was postponed until Tuesday morning, which was also then postponed. The Thruway’s website does not list a time for a new meeting.
In May, the authority proposed what it called a “modest” 45% toll increase for commercial trucks with three or more axles. It held several public hearings during the summer and initially planned to have the higher toll in place this fall. The agency said the increase would bring New York in line with higher tolls already charged by neighboring states.
A report by state comptroller Thomas DiNapoli questioned the need for the toll hike. He blasted the authority for an operating budget that has ballooned by 36% over the past 10 years, and urged the authority to save money by “consolidating functions” and handing off control of the money-losing Erie Canal.
“Imposing a large toll increase could have damaging effects on consumers and businesses at a time when many New Yorkers are struggling to recover from the recession,” DiNapoli said in a Transportation Nation report. “The Thruway should do more before relying on yet another toll hike to make ends meet.”
The Thruway Authority, however, feels that any vehicle with three axles or more should bear the cost for maintaining the miles and miles of Thruway.
“When a large tractor-trailer does 10,000 times the damage as an individual passenger car, we feel they should be paying the fair amount of toll revenue in order to continue to invest in our system,” said Tom Madison, NYS Thruway Authority in a Your News Now report.
According to Kendra Adams, president of the New York State Motor Truck Assn., the proposed toll hike would increase the toll for a three-axle vehicle traveling from Syracuse to Rochester from $16.30 to $23.60. Tolls from Syracuse to Buffalo would climb about $15 to more than $47, Adams said, and the toll from Syracuse to Exit 2 at New York City would rise from $97.35 to more than $140.
The hike increase could push some trucking companies to use other roads, Adams said, such as Route 20, to cross the state. While there are about 280,000 people working in trucking across the state, most companies are small and operate on thin margins, Adams told the Syracuse Post-Standard.
The proposed toll increase also drew fire from state legislators.
“At a time when we all are trying to change New York’s reputation as the worst place to do business in the U.S., raising the cost of shipping goods across Upstate sends the wrong message to companies looking to expand or locate here,” said State Sen. Patty Ritchie, R-Oswegatchie.