New York State Senator Mike Nozzolio announced the New York State Thruway Authority’s proposed 45 percent toll increase for commercial vehicles has been dropped. Assemblyman and Ranking Minority Ways and Means Committee Member Robert Oaks (R,C-Macedon described as “welcome news” the Thruway Authority’s plan to make changes to its own budget, eliminating the need to raise tolls for trucks and other commercial traffic.
“The Thruway Authority’s decision not to implement the proposed toll hike is a major victory for New York’s businesses and consumers.” said Senator Nozzolio, "There is no question that all businesses would suffer if this proposed toll increase has been allowed and the increase in transportation costs for consumer goods would have inevitably been passed on to individuals and families in our communities."
Senator Nozzolio has been an outspoken critic of the toll hike and had repeatedly called upon the Thruway Authority to abandon its ill-advised proposal. “Although New York State's economy is beginning to rebound, businesses and consumers simply cannot afford to absorb such a significant increase in the cost to transport their goods and services on the New York State Thruway. The proposed toll increase would have been a major step in the wrong direction and completely contrary to the message that New York State is once again open for business” Senator Nozzolio continued.
The direction announced is certainly good for the trucking industry and businesses in general,” Oaks said. “Transportation costs for all products and services would have risen if the proposed 45-percent toll hike on all vehicles with three or more axles had been adopted. It clearly would not have benefited the economy.”
In an effort to fight future toll increases on the Thruway, Senator Nozzolio is sponsoring Senate Bill 762, the New York State Thruway Authority Accountability Act. This new measure would restore accountability, increase efficiency, and reduce expenses by merging the Thruway Authority under the control of the Department of Transportation. In addition, this legislation would create a new Thruway Authority Board, the members of which must have transportation or financial expertise, as well as require a comprehensive forensic audit of the Thruway Authority every three years.
But Assemblyman Oaks called the new plan, which shifts some of the authority’s costs to the state only a stop-gap measure. The plan has $60 million coming directly from the general fund to pay for state police Thruway patrols, uses attrition of the workforce and controlling overtime to cut spending.
The act would: merge the Thruway Authority with the State Department of Transportation; create a new Thruway Authority Board whose members must have transportation expertise; make the State DOT Commissioner Chair of the Thruway Authority Board; require a comprehensive forensic audit of Thruway Authority finances every three years – and release the audit’s findings to the public. It would also require any proposed Thruway toll hikes – and the reason for the requested increases – be clearly identified in the State DOT’s budget; and save money by consolidating the Thruway Authority’s overlapping functions within the State DOT and streamlining the Authority through attrition.