A public outcry has caused New York Thruway officials to
reassess a price hike that could have truckers paying a significant increase in
tolls. Unfortunately, the new plan may end up benefiting the larger trucking
companies more than owner-operators.
The New York State Thruway Authority met sharp criticism
from truckers during a series of four formal public hearings to discuss the
increase. Authority officials originally said there would be a 25 percent
increase for passenger vehicles and an “average” increase of 35 percent for
trucks. However, the proposal narrows the commercial vehicle classification
system from 43 to nine categories, which, according to a toll calculator on the
authority’s Web site, could mean an increase of 60 to 100 percent for many
Michael Fleischer, executive director of the authority, told Land Line the most common complaint during the public hearings was from
members of the trucking community whose tolls would be well above the proposed
“We’re looking at a number of ideas in terms of how to allow
the classification process and the simplification to go forward, but still
provide the lower rate,” Fleischer said. “They (truckers) recognize that the
road needs work, they appreciate the service that’s provided on the thruway,
but they expressed serious concerns about the impact of increases, particularly
those above 35 percent.”
Fleischer said possible alternatives include rebates, a
lower rate increase for trucks in the extremely high cost categories and a 5
percent discount for all drivers using the E-ZPass system. Fleischer said the
authority is also considering a volume discount for commercial trucking
companies whose fleets do a large amount of travel on the road.
Todd Spencer, Executive Vice President for OOIDA, said
discounts for larger-volume trucking would only make the imbalance worse for
“Not only is the toll increase specifically discriminatory
toward trucks compared to cars, it’s discriminatory within the trucking
industry,” Spencer said. “It creates the greatest burden on small business
truckers, which are most of the truckers that are going to be using those
Fleischer said the higher percentage for trucks – between 10
and 75 percent above cars – was appropriate, because trucks cause the greatest
amounts of damage to the road itself.
“Our engineers have indicated that the level of wear-and-tear
that a truck does compared to a passenger vehicle is well in excess of the
ratios that we’re talking about – between 35/25 and what they’re currently
paying today,” Fleischer said.
However, Spencer said the alleged road damage caused by
trucks is a poor justification for the authority’s proposal.
“Trucks are already paying significantly more, even at the
current rate,” Spencer said.
Drivers can calculate proposed toll costs for their own
vehicle at http://www.thruway.state.ny.us/tolls2005/calc/index.html.
Comments about the proposal can be directed to the New York Thruway Authority
by phone at (518) 436-2983, by e-mail at PublicInfo@thruway.state.ny.us or by mail at: 200 Southern Boulevard, Albany, NY, 12209.
– By Aaron Ladage, Land Line staff