RFX Blog

New York State Thruway Proposes 45% Toll Hike – Truckers are Angry

September 12th, 2012

NY Toll Hike

Image Source: Channel 9 News ABC

Syracuse’s Channel 9 News WSYR-RV recently reported that during a recent public hearing in DeWitt concerns were raised over a proposed 45% toll hike for commercial trucks that drive on the New York State Thruway. The Thruway Authority believes the hike is necessary, while the trucking industry disagrees and has argued that the proposed hike will be an unfair burden on them.

New York State Thruway

The New York State Thruway is a system of limited-access highways that runs nearly 570 miles through the state of New York. The disputed tolled mainline of the Thruway is 496 miles long from New York City at Yonkers through Albany, Syracuse and Buffalo to the Ripley at the state line of Pennsylvania. Since it first opened in 1954, it remains the fifth busiest toll road in the United States and a necessary route for any truck driver that passes through northeastern parts of the country.

Proposed Regulation

The Thruway Authority has proposed a 45% toll rate adjustment at the fixed barriers along the New York State Thruway. This increase is purportedly going to be used to finance the Authority’s multi-year capital plan to pay for the necessary maintenance needed for the upkeep of the Thruway and to comply with the relevant portions of the Authority’s General Revenue Bond Resolution and Fiscal Management Guidelines. The New York State Thruway Authority has stated that the proposed toll rate adjustments will be fully implemented as soon as October 2012.

Toll Costs

Under this proposed increase, the standard trip for a truck driver going from Buffalo to Albany would jump substantially from $88 to $127. The tolling system currently charges different rates for vehicles depending upon their number of axles and height. Small cars and vehicles pay the lowest toll amount while the increased amount hits large commercial vehicles, like semi tractor trailers, the hardest because these vehicles have seven or more axles and with heights of more than seven feet six inches.

Thruway Authority’s Perspective

The Authority believes that these toll hikes are necessary to provide an additional $85 million that is needed to keep the highway safe and reliable while paying off mounting debt at the same time. Tom Madison, Executive Director of the Thruway Authority says: “We’re tightening our belts, making some sacrifices in terms of the ways we would program our projects. We had to take a hard look all across the system.” They also argue that because large trucks do the most damage to the road, they should be paying the highest costs to help the repair and restoration efforts.

Trucker’s Perspective

Truck drivers see this toll hike a little differently. They believe and are arguing that they already pay 40% of the toll bill cost at the highest rates to account for the wear and tear their trucks have on the roadways. The proposed hikes will not only increase the truck driver’s financial burden, but the toll hike will likely be passed on to consumers who will be the ones to make up the difference by paying a higher price for the goods that travel on this expensive highway. Kendra Adams of the New York Truck Association has stated “We would prefer the trucks stay on the Thruway. It’s the safest, most efficient highway in New York State. We recognize that, but when you ask the industry to absorb an increase, trucking in New York State is a small business, with very small profit margins. They don’t have a choice, they have to find a way to keep their business moving.”

The proposed toll hike is a dramatic 45% increase which is focused on the trucking industry. However, locals are concerned that the price hike would drive business out of the New York area and potentially force truckers off the Thruway and onto local roads in an effort to avoid the tolls altogether. Drivers know that if the trucking industry cannot or does not absorb the higher costs, the increases will only be passed onto all other drivers in order for the Thruway Authority to meet their financial quota.

Posted on September 12th, 2012 in RFX News