Tuesday, June 19, 2012
By Mid-Hudson News Network
Ambulances and fire department vehicles responding to emergencies on the New York State Thruway now must stop at the toll booths on their way to and from incidents.
In a letter to emergency service providers, H. McCarthy Gipson, deputy director of maintenance and operations for the Thruway Authority, said a new law requires the authority to collect, and then issue refunds for, tolls incurred on the highway by such vehicles.
Ulster County Fire Coordinator Charles Muntz said the law could slow emergency responses.
“If the fire department in their jurisdiction has the Thruway running through the jurisdiction and they respond out there for severe motor vehicle accident or haz-mat incident, and they call a neighboring department that does not cover the Thruway, they are going to be expected, the way I read it, to pay also on the return,” he said.
Gipson wrote to the emergency service providers that “to assist with more efficient incident response times and enhanced safety,” responders should use E-ZPass-only toll lanes when available.
“In instances when an E-ZPass only lane is not available, the vehicle should proceed through a staffed lane and pick up a toll ticket or pay the toll collector the required toll and ask for a cash receipt.”
In a statement issues Tuesday afternoon, Thruway Authority spokesman R.W.Groneman said: "The Thruway Authority does not charge emergency vehicles. In a rare instance where a toll is inadvertently charged, this law establishes a reimbursement procedure."