As of January 1st, we witnessed many states, among them New Jersey, Maryland, Pennsylvania, and Ohio, taking significant toll hikes. Now, New York and Maine are proposing similar increases which many believe will lead to congestion, job loss, and increased costs for companies and consumers.
According to reports, the New York State Thruway Authority is looking at raising tolls for commercial vehicles containing three axles or more by 45% and is currently looking for comments from the public.1
Maine will be releasing their proposal to the public at Auburn Hall next week which would call for a 26% toll increase.
But the question on many people’s mind is where this money will go.
Whereas many believed that costs would help pay for the replacing of the Tappan Zee Bridge, which stretches over the Hudson River, Thruway explains that separate financing would be used for the bridge project while toll costs would be used to repair damage as a result of trucks. 2
Maine Turnpike Authorities plan on using the York Toll Plaza increases, which will provide an additional $26 million annually, to pay for the cost of widening the turnpike eight years ago, along with “costs associated with the rebuilding of two Piscataqua River bridges, and maintenance and repairs to the northern end of the turnpike.” 3
But these costs affect everyone from carriers to shippers to consumers.
With the new hikes, the cost of a three-axle truck going from Buffalo to New York City would increase from around $88 to $127. 1 Cash tolls in ME would rise from $2 to $3 at the York booth, $1.75 to $2.50 at West Gardiner and New Gloucester booths, and $7 to $10.63 for 5-axel trucks at the New Gloucester booth with EZPass drivers seeing increases of about 1.3 cents a mile. 4
Not only will trucking companies be raising their costs to account for these increases, but shippers/receivers will be trickling down the costs to their customers as well.
Besides increased costs of doing business, the NY State Motor Truck Association expressed the problem of congestion, as many trucks will result to roads in order to avoid tolls.
As Jack Schenendorf and Elizabeth Bell from Covington & Burling LLP stated, greater congestion on urban roads led to “4.8 billion hours of traveler delays and consumption of an additional 3.9 billion gallons of fuel in 2009.”
And with over 3.9 million truck drivers in the US and 97% of carriers being small companies operating 20 trucks or less, many cannot handle increased prices, operating with only a 1-2% profit margin to begin with, either not being able to compete with competitor prices, forcing layoffs, or worse, closure.
As one trucker responded to the tax increases, “I think that if truckers banded together, and slowed their speed down by about 20 mph across the board, in protest of the higher tolls, it would screw up traffic so bad, that something drastic would have to be done. Trucks and trucking are the life blood of this country. Every single thing that touches your life was transported by a truck…Some of these roads that have the high tolls are the bumpiest roads around. Give me something for my money!” 5
The New York toll hike could go into effect as soon as September 30th while the Maine proposal would become effective on November 1st.
What do you think of the proposed increases for ME and NY tolls? Do you feel that the money is being used to fund the proper issues? List your comments below.