For Release — Friday, April 15, 2005
OPPOSES THRUWAY TOLL HIKES, ARGUING THAT THEY WOULD
DISPROPORTIONATELY AFFECT BUSINESS AND UNDERMINE COMPETITIVENESS
ALBANY—Proposed increases in New York State Thruway tolls would unfairly burden commercial traffic and would seriously undermine the competitiveness of New York State businesses, The Business Council has told the Thruway Authority.
The proposed toll increase would hit commercial vehicles with a much higher percentage increase than passenger vehicles, the statement said. Passenger vehicles would pay a 25 percent increase in tolls. Commercial vehicles face an increase that has been estimated at 35 percent but which would actually be much higher, the Council said in a formal statement of opposition to the toll increases sent April 14 to the state Thruway Authority.
This disproportionate increase ignores past toll structures which had already established a differential for the increased wear resulting from commercial vehicles, the statement added.
"Several Business Council member firms have testified that they will routinely face 60 to 80 percent increases in toll charges under the proposal," the statement said. "A simple example of this is a comparison between a trip from Albany’s exit 23 to Geneva’s exit 42. Under the current structure, the Class 1 automobile toll is $5.75 while the Class 5 truck toll is $22.25."
The proposed toll increase would mean a commercial vehicle would pay $36.50 for the same trip, a 64 percent increase, the statement said. Even if commercial drivers purchased an EZ Pass, the proposal would still increase the toll to $34.68, "an equally budget-busting 56 percent."
"These are simply unacceptable rates of increase that will seriously affect the competitiveness of New York’s businesses," the statement added.
Maintaining a sound transportation infrastructure in New York is vital to businesses and consumers, but the proposed toll increases would seriously decrease businesses’ ability to affordably transport goods, the Council said.
In its statement, the Council also argued that:
- The toll increases would drive some Thruway traffic, and increased
costs associated with that traffic, to municipalities and municipal
roads not prepared to handle the additional burden.
- The Council also opposes the use of Thruway tolls to support non-toll
roads and other modes of transportation.
"Since the last round of toll increases, the Thruway Authority has assumed responsibility for I-84, the Cross Westchester Expressway and the New York State Canal System," the statement said. "Now, Thruway users are expected to finance the operations, repair and improvement of roads they may not even use and a canal system that has nothing to do with the original mission of the Thruway Authority."
- A toll increase would put New York at a distinct economic disadvantage
with neighboring states. New York’s commercial tolls on the Thruway
currently compare favorably to Pennsylvania’s, New Jersey’s,
and Massachusetts’s. But the proposed increases in New York Thruway
tolls would drive New York’s commercial tolls higher than all
three of these neighbors’, the statement added. The cost would
become almost 20¢ per mile, which is 11 percent higher than Pennsylvania's,
24 percent higher than Massachusetts’s, and 33 percent higher
than New Jersey’s.
"These are significant differences worth millions of dollars and contribute directly to a firm’s financial health," the statement said. "This is one of the few areas where, if kept competitive, it would be an advantage to businesses in New York State and help offset cost disadvantages in other areas."
- Any increases should be phased in more gradually. The Thruway's plan is to implement the increases in one step on May 1—which, the Council argues, does not give businesses enough time to make essential adjustments to their business practices that such cost increases require.