With gas prices and inflation pushing consumer prices upward for the foreseeable future, Democratic New York state Assemblyman Angelo Santabarbara on Monday called for a suspension of tolls on the New York Thruway system for the summertime months.
The bill backed by Santabarbara would set a toll holiday for June, July and August.
“Typically the summer months are when most people make their travel plans and this savings will encourage tourism in our upstate areas,” he said. “These active months are important for local businesses and we must do all we can to encourage economic activity when they need it the most.”
Santabarbara wants to use the state's surplus of federal aid to help cover the lost revenue from any suspension.
Separately, Santabarbara and state lawmakers on both sides of the aisle have called for a suspension of taxes on per-gallon gasoline sales in the state. New York collects about $2 billion in gas tax revenue. A proposal advanced last week by Democrats in the state Senate would suspend the gas tax from May 1 through the end of the year.
The Thruway Authority in a statement, however, said the proposal would deprieve the authority of much-needed revenue.
“Removing tolls would cut off the only dedicated revenue stream used to maintain and operate our 570-mile system each and every day," a spokesman said. "The Thruway is a user-fee system supported by tolls paid by the people who use it, and not one cent of local or state taxpayer dollars pays to operate or maintain it. Roughly one-third of motorists on the Thruway in the summer months are out of state drivers, so removing tolls gives them a free pass and shifts the cost to hard working New York taxpayers. Our revenue must come from somewhere, and we think the fairest approach is that only those who use the Thruway, pay for it.”