Lopez Tells Thruway Authority To Rescind Toll Increase

Says agency must work with legislature
January 15, 2008
Assemblyman Pete Lopez (R,C,I – Schoharie) today called on the New York State Thruway Authority to reverse their recent ten percent toll hike which adds to the burden of excessive taxes and fees that hurt New Yorkers. Assemblyman Lopez also called on the Thruway Authority to work with the Legislature and the Comptroller in order to objectively discuss its needs and to examine available resources.

“This is serious for the commuters, businesses, and taxpayers of New York,” Assemblyman Lopez stated. “The ten percent toll increase and the reduction of EZ-Pass discounts increase the financial burden on the individuals and businesses that use the thruway to get to work or other daily activities. By failing to reverse this decision, the Thruway Authority is once again showing the public that Albany bureaucrats act in a vacuum with little regard to the impact their decisions have on the daily lives of New Yorkers.”

Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli’s office is currently auditing the New York State Thruway Authority in order to determine how funds are being spent and if Thruway toll increases are needed. Recent testimony at Assembly hearings called for a reversal of the toll increase and possibly the removal of the New York Canal System from the Thruway Authority’s jurisdiction and financial rolls. Currently, the Erie Canal and other waterways are under control of the Thruway Authority. Under the current plan, the canal system costs the Thruway Authority $80 million each year, which is paid mostly by Thruway tolls by motorists rather than by boaters who use the canal system for transportation.

Assemblyman Lopez noted that the removal of the Canal Corporation cannot be the sole focus and is calling for the state to think “out of the box” when it comes to controlling the Thruway Authority’s costs.

“It is time for Albany to begin the process of controlling costs and spending in earnest,” said Assemblyman Lopez. “We should use the Thruway Authority as an example for improving efficiency and accountability to our over burdened taxpayers. Albany is quick to urge local governments to coordinate and consolidate services, but we need to take a hard look at the Thruway Authority and the New York State Department of Transportation to push for efficiency rather than cost increases.”

“I look forward to reading the Comptroller’s report,” Lopez continued. “I am certain that a toll increase will undoubtedly harm small businesses and commuters all throughout New York. Additionally, I remain unconvinced that raising toll prices is the only solution that will adequately address the long term financial needs of the Thruway Authority and the budget as a whole.”