Albany, New York (April 15, 2005): "The combination of rising gasoline prices, new state-imposed fees on drivers, high insurance rates, and recent MTA toll hikes are already crippling City residents and other New Yorkers who visit and do business in the Big Apple," said Senator Velmanette Montgomery (D-Brooklyn) in her message to policy makers at a recent public hearing of the New York State Thruway Authority in Loudonville, New York.
"The proposed toll increase along our State’s main 641-mile transportation artery will cause an even greater hardship for drivers of both passenger and commerical vehicles in all regions of the state."
The Brooklyn lawmaker pointed out that the New York State Thruway Authority is proposing a 25 percent increase for passenger vehicles and a 35 percent increase for commercial vehicles to help finance infrastructure improvements through 2010. The plan also includes an additional 10 percent toll increase for both classes of vehicles beginning January 6, 2008.
Montgomery told Thruway Authority representatives that the increase for commercial vehicles would, in actuality, be much greater than 35 percent. Citing the findings of the New York State Motor Truck Association, Montgomery noted that a combination of toll increases and reclassification and a new discount schedule would result in some carriers paying as much as 126 percent more.
The proposed increase, combined with the new MTA toll hikes, would also have an impact on New York’s Greenmarkets that provide a continuing supply of home-grown produce and other farm-fresh foods to New York City consumers, Senator Montgomery pointed out.
"Upstate farmers travel to New York City weekly -- and sometimes two or more times a week -- in order to sell their healthy foods to individual consumers as well as to over 105 restaurants citywide. Greenmarket also provides educational tours to 3,000 students from 82 schools. Further toll hikes will either force farmers to raise prices or prevent them from doing business in our City."
Greenmarket, a program of the Council on the Environment of New York City, has organized and managed open-air farmers markets throughout the City since 1976. There are 47 Greenmarkets in all five boroughs, and eleven of them are located in Brooklyn. Twenty three markets in 16 locations operate year-round.
In closing, Senator Montgomery urged policy makers to reexamine the far-reaching negative impact of the Authority's proposal on New York’s farming community, small business operators, the tourism industry, New York City consumers, and the State’s overall economic development.