New York Thruway toll increases OK’d despite calls for reform

| 12/20/2007

With a 10-percent toll increase already in place for January 2008, the New York Thruway Authority Board of Directors voted to increase tolls an additional 5 percent in 2009 and another 5 percent in 2010.

What sticks in the craw of truckers and a handful of lawmakers who are fighting the increase is the $80 million in Thruway revenue that subsidizes non-highway entities such as the Canal Corp.

New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer has urged the Thruway board to wait on toll increases until an audit is completed by state comptroller. But the Thruway board voted Wednesday, Dec. 19, to approve the 2009 and 2010 increases.

Both Republicans and Democrats have sponsored public events in protest of the toll increases and a move by the Thruway board to reduce discounts for E-ZPass customers.

Minority leaders have called for the board to resign and for the legislature to step in to rescind the toll increases.

New York truckers, including OOIDA member Lou Esposito, have told Land Line that they are “through” with the Thruway because of the increasing cost of doing business.

“I never run the tolls going west. Never,” Esposito said following the Thruway board’s announcement.

The numbers speak for themselves.

A 285-mile east-west trip on the Thruway from Albany to Buffalo currently costs a five-axle vehicle truck $52.16 with E-ZPass or $54.90 in cash.

A 10-percent increase would add an additional $5.22 for E-ZPass customers and $5.49 for cash customers in 2008.

The increases approved by the board this week would add an additional 5 percent in 2009 and 2010.

The same truck traveling a north-south portion of the Thruway from Albany, NY, to the New York City limits at Interstate 87 is currently priced at $30.82 for E-ZPass holders and $37.65 for those paying cash.

The 10 percent increase in January will increase E-ZPass tolls $3.08 to $33.90 on the 148-mile route. Cash tolls will increase $3.77 to $41.42.

The Thruway is the longest tolled highway in the U.S. at 641 miles, authority officials state on the Web site.

Truckers see the toll increases having an adverse effect on businesses that had located to Thruway cities in better times.

“They brought in Wal-Mart because of the Thruway,” Esposito said, referring to the state efforts to attract economic development ... “and now they keep increasing the tolls. I hate to see what the grocery chains are paying.”

To calculate your tolls on the Thruway, click here to go to the toll calculator portion of the Thruway’s Web site.

– By David Tanner, staff writer