Thruway Authority says toll story is bogus
Posted at: 06/20/2012 12:33 PM
By: Ray Levato | WHEC.com
News10NBC is clarifying a report that emergency vehicles are being charged tolls when responding to incidents on the state Thruway, and the concern that could slow down response times.
A spokesman for the NYS Thruway Authority in Albany says it's bogus. The spokesman says a reporter downstate got it wrong and it's being repeated in media around the state. The directive is supposed to apply to NON emergency vehicles only.
R.W. Groneman says "The Thruway does everything it can to expedite emergency vehicles on and off the toll road. They're life savers. We know that."
The Thruway's deputy director of operations sent out a letter recently that may have been misinterpreted. It advised when responders should use E-Z-Pass or a regular toll lane. The letter refers to a new law that took effect June 1, 2012 that requires the New York Thruway Authority to refund any tolls paid by "responders." Under New York Vehicle and Traffic Law, any ambulance, whether on an emergency call or simply routinely transporting a patient, is referred to as a responder.
The letter was meant to clarify how volunteer fire and ambulance departments can recoup any tolls they may have paid. Groneman says "the language could have been worded better, and in fact, a new letter is going out soon to clarify."
Groneman says this is a rare occurrence, and gave an example. It would happen when an ambulance is transporting a patient to a hospital in another locale. Those vehicles are expected to stop for a toll ticket. But all vehicles responding to an emergency are always waved through.
Groneman also says the Thruway goes as far as providing emergency responders with keys to "crash gates" along the toll road. These are gates between interchanges that allow easier access for emergency responders.