As part of his marathon Q and A session with reporters today, Gov. Andrew Cuomo didn’t take a position on a proposed 45 percent toll increase on the state’s Thruway system, instead expressing the desire to wait for a series of public hearings to conclude.
The toll hike was initially proposed by the state Thruway Authority in late May, and affects all vehicles with three or more axels. If all goes as planned, the toll increase would take effect by October, according to the state register.
When asked at the time, Cuomo said he would meet with the authority before deciding his position. Today, he said he’ll wait until after three public hearings in mid-August before he weighs in.
“There’s going to be a series of public hearings,” Cuomo said. “Let’s see what the public says and then I’ll be fully briefed by the Thruway Authority.”
The financially troubled Thruway Authority has been plagued by a decline in ridership and increasing debt-service payments in recent years. It also is faced with coming up with a finance plan for replacing the Tappan Zee Bridge, an authority-owned lower Hudson Valley span expected to cost $5.2 billion to replace.
Theoretically, Cuomo called a toll increase a “last resort.”
“In a perfect world, there would be no toll increases, obviously. There hasn’t been a toll increase in a while,” Cuomo said today. “I’m interested in making sure the Thruway Authority is the most efficient operation that it can be. And then the extent that we need money, we need revenues, first look within the agencies, find out where we can save money. As a last resort, if you have to raise the toll, then make it the minimum amount possible.”