Under pressure, Thruway official says toll increase a 'complex issue'

By David Tanner, Land Line associate editor | 11/14/2012

New York State Thruway Authority officials are not saying why they’ve canceled three meetings since September or if public pressure against a proposed 45 percent toll increase on truckers has anything to do with it. The agency’s top official says the issue of toll increases is complex and that decision makers need more time.

“The proposed toll increase for trucks is a complex issue that requires more evaluation before it is presented to the Board to consider,” Thruway Executive Director Thomas Madison said in a statement.

“The Thruway is looking at a number of options and doing extensive research, and it will continue to do this due diligence work before another meeting is called and a recommendation is made.”

Thruway officials canceled a meeting last Friday and then canceled the makeup meeting on Tuesday, both without explanation. The speculation is that those meetings contained discussion and a possible vote on the Thruway’s plan to increase truck tolls 45 percent.

Under the proposal floated last May, the Thruway would charge $127 for a five-axle truck to travel from Buffalo to New York City, up from the current $88.

Truckers, business groups, manufacturers and elected officials have all chimed in against the toll increase, saying it will hurt business and drive prices up.

“I see people all the time running alternate routes to avoid the Thruway, but what I really want to know about, is what the Authority is doing to reduce their costs,” said owner-operator and OOIDA Life Member Lou Esposito of Duanesburg, NY.

“They want truckers to take a 45 percent cut, so what are they doing on their end?”

OOIDA called out Thruway officials this week, saying now is not the time to raise the toll tax on truckers.

OOIDA opposes the diversion of toll revenue to sources away from a toll road. In the case of the Thruway, state law requires the agency to subsidize the Erie Canal and other transportation sources.

“Why should we subsidize the Erie Canal with money we spend on the Thruway?” asks OOIDA Senior Member Terry Button of Rushville. “It’s a slap in the face for everyone that spends money on the Thruway for them to be so irresponsible. How can they justify spending $90 million to generate $2 million? If anyone else did that, they would be out of business.” 

See related story:
Truckers call out Thruway brass over toll plan

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