About six weeks ago, the New York State Thruway Authority proposed its plan to increase tolls starting in 2024. We thought it was a bad idea.
Cashless tolling problems, maximizing non-toll revenue sources and greater transparency should have been resolved before the Authority proposed the hikes, according to a report issued by state Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli.
Somehow, “We told you so” just doesn’t cut it.
“The Thruway Authority’s toll increase proposal comes at a time of extraordinary challenges for New Yorkers who are faced with rising costs for everything from food to shelter to gas,” DiNapoli said. “The Thruway should be more transparent with the public and disclose critical information and identify and put in place all possible cost-savings and alternative revenue actions to minimize costs to drivers. Raising tolls should be the last option and the Thruway has more work to do.”
In December 2022, the Thruway Board of Directors started implementation of a multi-year schedule of systemwide toll increases. The proposal calls for a 5% increase for New York-issued E-ZPass drivers and a 75% increase for non-New York EZPass drivers starting Jan. 1, 2024.
We’re pleased to note that the board of directors must hold a series of public hearings on the proposal before the Authority can formally adopt the increases. Hearings will be held throughout 2023. We encourage New Yorkers to attend these hearings and speak out against the proposed increases.
If approved, the proposal also would expand the rate differential between New York E-ZPass users and all others. The toll hikes are expected to increase toll revenue by 28.4%, or $1.9 billion, through 2031. Good for the Authority, not good for motorists having trouble putting meat on the tables.
We have a problem with the Authority’s sketchy approach to preparing the four-year plan for its public unveiling.
Before asking motorists to pay more, the Authority should address implementation problems and ensure that it has a clear and accurate forecast on which to base revenue estimates, according to the report. The Authority should also provide better documentation and disclosure of the assumptions used to develop the revenue and traffic projections that support its proposal.
We’ve wondered for a long time where the savings from all those eliminated jobs and toll plazas went, and why they weren’t used to offset another toll hike. Perform a comprehensive assessment of operating needs and expenses to identify costs that may no longer be necessary, DiNapoli says in his report. Since 2012, there has been a significant decline in the number of Thruway staff, while its reliance on procurement has increased.
Finally, there is the matter of transparency. “Disclose capital needs assessment to justify cost projections,” DiNapoli says. The Authority’s $1.9 billion capital program and associated debt costs are cited as part of the justification for the toll increases, but there are significant gaps in available information related to the management and condition of its assets and capital needs.
Bad for motorists, bad for taxpayers. We told you so.
As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.
Welcome to the discussion.
Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
PLEASE TURN OFF YOUR CAPS LOCK.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.