New York Thruway Toll Increase Proposal: Between the Lines


I went through the eighty page report for the bottom line and propagandic statements and found these:

The overall growth in recent years, however, generally has exceeded that of other northeast toll roads. Assuming that the national economic conditions will improve in the next few years, the long-term past growth trend is expected to continue, but somewhat dampened considering the increasing severity and duration of congestion at many locations. The future growth in passenger car revenues from 2005 to 2010 is estimated to be 2.6 percent annually on the controlled system and about 1.9 percent at the barriers.

what they are saying: The "many locations" in question should be upgraded to accomodate the increase of use therefore completely removing any chance of "the increasing severity and duration of congestion".

This should not even be an issue.   They don't plan on expanding the roadway in whole or part. The entire length of the New York Thruway should be, at minimum, no less than three travel lanes in each direction. The Thruway is outmoded, and outdated.

When the Authority instituted the last toll rate adjustment in 1988, it was with the full understanding that the adjustments had been designed to last for eight years and that further adjustments would be required in 1996,
if tolls continued. The anticipated toll adjustments must now be made to provide some $979.5 million in additional toll revenue through 2010 in order to complete the capital program as described in Section III and to meet Thruway revenue needs and the requirements of the Bond Resolution.

what they are saying: one of the scenarios was removal of the thruway authority and it was quickly squashed

With the exception of the Spring Valley and Tappan Zee changes noted above, the Thruway tolls have not changed since 1988. In the sixteen years since, the CPI index for the local area has increased over 64 percent. In the same period the cost of postage for a first class letter has increased over 57 percent, and the price of a copy of the weekday New York Times is now 150 percent higher than it was in 1988.

what they are saying:  the thruway needs more money to keep itself from looking like an unviable option.


The adjustments, which are proposed for implementation, are designed to reflect the advantages of encouraging greater use of E-ZPass, with the basic EZPass toll initially ten percent below the cash toll for passenger vehicles and five percent for commercial vehicles. Further, the adjustments recognize the need to minimize the impact on frequent users by retaining the annual permit and the current discount from the cash rate for those currently taking advantage of the commuter rates on the bridges, and by establishing new commuter programs at the other toll barriers which will allow frequent users to continue to travel at the current toll levels.

what they are saying:  people who have no other means but our roadway will get a break.  People who use EZ-Pass, which allows us to not hire toll takers, saves us money,
and allows us to track users for efficient data and record keeping which can save us money and help us sell Thruway services better, will be discounted over cash users. Less privacy in lieu of the higher cost of tolls is something most people will accept to be able to pay less.

2005 Passenger Car Toll Adjustments

The passenger car increase proposed in 2005 for customers paying cash, those electing not to use E-ZPass, would be 25 percent. Those with E-ZPass, generally the more frequent users, would receive a ten percent discount, and the
increase for these customers would be approximately 12.5 percent above the current rate. The increase for those currently taking advantage of the discounted annual permit would also be 25 percent. The current commuter discounts would be maintained or increased at the bridge facilities, and new commuter programs would be established at the fixed toll barriers, which would allow frequent users to travel at existing rates.

what they are saying:  cash has no paper trail, users who pay in this form cannot be easily tracked, and it slows down our system, so we will surcharge for its use.

2008 Passenger Car Toll Adjustments

In 2008 the basic cash toll would increase by 10 percent over the rates then in effect. Toll rates for all other Thruway users, however, would not increase as there would be no change in the E-ZPass toll rates, the commuting programs
or the cost of the annual permit.

what they're saying: by 2008 no one better be using cash.

Changes in toll revenues will result from adjustments to the toll rates as well as the impact of drivers´┐Ż reactions to the proposed modification in rates. These reactions may be to avoid the Thruway because the cost of using some sections of the highway will increase, or to decide to take advantage of the discounts available with E-ZPass and various commuter plans. Whenever tolls are increased at a vehicular toll facility, there usually is some initial traffic loss by reason of
diversions to other routings, consolidation of trips, or elimination of trips. Potential traffic losses due to higher tolls were estimated based on previous experience on the Thruway when tolls were raised, and on recent experience on other toll facilities. The losses are expected to be relatively small considering that the Thruway offers large travel time advantages over the nearby routes, provides excellent services, and the fact that the Thruway tolls, even after the adjustments, generally will be lower than on most toll facilities in the Northeast. The potential traffic losses due to the increases are expected to range from one to three percent at all facilities as a result of the increase. In many cases a facility will continue to show year-over-year traffic growth after a toll increase. This occurs when background traffic growth exceeds the estimated loss in traffic due to the toll increase. Many of the Thruway tolling locations are expected to exhibit this behavior. In the long term, normal growth patterns will return to all tolling locations.

what they are saying: New York state's roadway system, as a whole, exhibits a lack of redundancy which places a higher responsibility onto the Thruway System.

This is how we justify our existence. The bonds taken out to finance the original construction and maintenance of the New York State Thruway in the 1950s have been paid off since the early 1980's. It was at that time that the tolls were to have been removed. However, rather than turn over the Thruway to D.O.T. with all debts satisfied, the Thruway continued to collect tolls throughout the 80's, poorly maintained the roadway, had catastrophic roadway failures as a result, and then issued new bonds to stay in existence.  

What really needs to be done here is another roadway constructed to compliment the Thruway across New York, or, the New York State Thruway Authority to be abolished and dismantled, and all assets and the roads of which it has authority transferred to the New York Department of Transportation.

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