BUFFALO, NY -- A local state assemblyman is offering an answer to the problem of more than $35 million in unpaid Thruway tolls.
Earlier this week we reported that between 2007 and 2011, the Thruway authority lost more than $35million to drivers who refused to pay.
Assemblyman Sean Ryan says there is a simple solution to at least cut down on the number of people who are simply not paying their tolls. Ryan says the fundamental problem is that the Thruway Authority lacks the enforcement power to go after the more than 1 million drivers who have driven through the EZ Pass lanes without a tag and then ignored letters requesting toll payment.
Ryan added today that the authority has not really even expressed much interest in going after those toll evaders, right now they merely send out a letter requesting payment, plus a $25 surcharge, letters that in many cases are ignored.
Ryan says the Thruway Authority's answer to that is to propose a 45-percent toll hike for truckers.
The Assemblyman says that is unacceptable and is proposing legislation that would make evading a toll on the Thruway a class A misdemeanor under the state's theft of service law.
Ryan called the proposed toll hike a gimmicky, short-term fix, not a long-term solution to the problem.
Ryan also sent a letter to Thruway Authority Executive Director Thomas Madison asking him to implement some of the recommendations suggested by the comptroller's office. Those include working with other state agencies to improve toll recovery rates, and working to determine if repeat toll violators are vendors that service the state or the authority.
He says the bottom line is that every effort should be made to collect tolls that are not being payed before asking those who are paying to dig a little deeper.