Assemblyman Oaks Says Proposed Thruway Toll Hikes Bad For New York’s Business Climate

“Economy Hanging in the Balance Right Now”
June 4, 2012

Assemblyman and Ranking Minority Ways and Means Committee Member Robert Oaks (R,C-Macedon) says the New York State Thruway Authority’s proposed 45 percent toll hike on commercial trucks with three or more axles could create a flat tire for New York’s businesses by increasing their cost of operation.

“In a general business sense, it’s just another way that a company thinking about leaving New York could come to the conclusion they just can’t afford the cost of doing business here anymore,” Assemblyman Oaks said. “It might tip the scale for a company to move somewhere else.”

The assemblyman is joining other legislative leaders in opposing the proposal. The Thruway Authority Board last week gave it an initial green light to move forward. The board will now schedule three hearings on the proposal in different parts of the state before meeting again to consider it. The authority is independent of state government and no legislative approval is needed to authorize toll increases.

“It’s not a good idea to increase the cost of doing business in New York right now with the economy hanging in the balance,” Assemblyman Oaks said. He noted increased tolls would impact big and small business and could have great repercussions, such as increased costs for goods.

According to the Truck Info website there are an estimated 8.9 million people employed in trucking-related jobs nationwide, with nearly 3.5 million truck drivers, many of whom are independent owners and operators. Nationally, there are 1.2 million trucking companies with 97 percent operating 20 or fewer trucks, and 90 percent operating six or fewer trucks. The U.S. economy depends on trucks to deliver nearly 70 percent of all freight that is transported annually, accounting for $671 billion worth of manufactured and retail goods carried by trucks.

“There also is concern that increased Thruway tolls could push truck traffic off the Thruway and onto secondary roads through small communities,” Assemblyman Oaks noted, indicating this already is happening to some extent in the Finger Lakes region.

The cost of the increase can’t be absorbed by the trucking industry, he said. Some trucking companies, in addition to the businesses they serve, may decide that it is too expensive to operate in New York and leave for other states, leading to more job losses.