The Maine Turnpike Authority (MTA) has wrapped up its public hearings to get input on their proposed toll increase totaling $17.3M set to take effect on November 1, 2021. For more information and for the specifics of the increase, you can view the MTA’s Board resolution and press release outlining the current proposal as well as the proposed rate tables.
While the MMTA and our members certainly don’t like the prospect of a toll increase, when MMTA met with the Turnpike’s leadership prior to the public hearings, their reasoning for the increase makes sense. The pandemic slowed their revenue by $60M and the bond rating agencies have implemented more stringent criteria to protect their financial integrity. If there were no increase, the interest rates on the MTA’s debt would be much greater, creating a situation of lessened buying power and a greater need for increased tolls at much higher amounts in the near future.
After reviewing the proposal and participating in each of the public hearings, we feel the MTA has taken Maine truckers into consideration when they developed their funding alternatives. If you remember back in 2014, when they did their last toll increase, there were proposals to increase the CMV multiplier which would have added insult to injury – which we successfully eliminated then, and they didn’t include in this current proposal. What they did do this time around is make the increase impact Maine-based E-ZPass customers much less than cash customers and out-of-state (OOS) Turnpike users. Here is a breakdown of their projections:
TOTAL INCREASE FOR TRUCKING = $6,000,000
- Cash CMVs = $410,000
- Maine CMV E-ZPass = $430,000
- OOS CMV E-ZPass = $5,160,000
In summary, the trucking industry will pay 35% of the $17.3M total toll increase. Maine truckers using E-ZPass will pay 2.5% of the total, truckers paying cash will pay 2.4% and out-of-state truckers using their base state’s E-ZPass will pay 30% of the total increase. So, you can see the obvious objective in this MTA proposal is to outsource as much of the increase to out-of-staters as possible.
You can find a copy of the MMTA’s testimony by clicking here. The next step in this process is for the Turnpike to synthesize the very few comments received from the public and present them to the MTA’s full Board on September 2, 2021 for a likely vote. Live streaming of these meetings can be found on the Turnpike’s website.