Thursday, August 23, 2012

If only they could see themselves


There’s not a mirror to be found at the New York State Thruway Authority offices. Agency bigwigs continue to blame everyone but themselves for their problems and to justify a whopping 45 percent toll increase for trucks.

A couple of months ago, a little birdie – actually a paid consultant – told them they could get more money out of truckers while avoiding a toll increase on the general public. They trotted out the wear-and-tear argument, insisted that truckers weren’t paying their fair share and that toll increases would be the remedy.

In a recent press release, Thruway Authority Executive Director Thomas J. Madison turned more blame outward by accusing the state comptroller of contributing to the agency’s past financial problems “by failing to report years of fiscal gimmicks and deferred expenses.”

Madison used the same press release to take a jab at long-haul truckers.

“The fact remains that tolls for large trucks on the Thruway – mostly long distance haulers – are 50 to 85 percent less in New York than in comparable states like New Jersey and Pennsylvania,” Madison stated.

“And each of these trucks creates thousands of times more damage to roads and bridges than a passenger car. Heavy trucks, not passenger vehicles, should bear these added costs, so that tolls can be kept as low as possible for all motorists.”

Mr. Madison, a five-axle truck already pays $88 for a full-length trip on the Thruway, a rate that would jump to $127 under your proposal.

Comments on the proposal are due Friday, Aug. 24. A spokesman says the agency received 1,310 written comments as of midday Thursday in addition to the 108 who spoke during three recent public hearings.

Truckers reported to Land Line that the vast majority of comments were in opposition to the increases.

As the Thruway plan runs its course, an observer would be naive not to recognize a separate action by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey to charge trucks 125 percent more on its facilities by 2015.

And we’ve recently learned that tolls on the Tappan Zee Bridge – part of the Thruway system but with its own separate toll – could triple once a replacement bridge is completed in a few years.

These agencies live in a bubble. Everybody wants more and wants to put the burden on everyone but themselves. Who is left paying the price? It’s the truckers and trucking companies, the manufacturers and businesses, the commuters and the consumers.

Someone needs to deliver a load of mirrors to the Thruway and the Port Authority so they can take a good, hard look at themselves.

There’s still time to give ’em an earful at tollcomments@thruway.ny.gov