Tolls Could Cause New England Car Shipping Prices to Increase
The state of Rhode Island has instituted a truck-only toll that has been in effect since last year. It affects most of the state’s interstate highways, with the notable inclusion of I-95. As a major artery through the region, I-95 carriers thousands of trucks every day. Having a toll on it has already cause an increase in New England car shipping prices, notably to Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and states further north.
As such, the American Trucking Association (ATA) has challenged the law in federal court. And apparently, they lost. Now, the organization is appealing the decision.
How the decision was reached
The ATA challenged the law saying that it unfairly discriminated against interstate trucking companies. This would make the law unconstitutional. However, the judge ruled that the tolls are protected by the Tax Injunction Act. The TIA states that federal courts do not have jurisdiction over state taxes.
It’s an interesting argument. To this writer, both sides have valid arguments. On the one hand, discrimination against a certain type of business – even at the state level – isn’t okay. And long-distance truckers are really the backbone of the United States. Without them, goods wouldn’t be moved, which would make the entire economy suffer.
At the same time, the judge is correct that tolls fall under the purview of taxes. If Rhode Island wishes to implement tolls for certain vehicles, most of the laws and court decisions on the books allows them to.
The ATA is planning on appealing the ruling, with ATA president and CEO Chris Spear vowing “this fight is by no means over.”
What the ruling means for New England car shipping prices
We’ve yet to really see any drastic ramifications of this ruling, or the tolls that they were ruling on. New England car shipping services don’t always require carriers to travel I-95, after all. But those that do tend to take it through Rhode Island and up into Boston. We’ve seen some slight increases over last year’s prices, and current projections are indicating that summer shipping will be more expensive this year than last.
However, how much of that increase is due to this one specific ruling is unknown. But it’s unlikely that any of the price hikes are due to it. Maybe some of the routes up into Boston, or down from northern New England may be affected. But let’s not forget that it’s a $40 max per day – $20 each one-way. That’s when all of the booths across the state are operational, with truckers having to pay $3.25 at each.
So the tolls themselves aren’t that outrageous. But there’s 14 different gantries on I-95 in Rhode Island, which means that trucks are going to have to stop more frequently. Now, most toll booths don’t take but a few seconds to get through, especially if the system is automated. For instance, Florida – the nation’s largest car transport market – has tolls on several of its interstates. But Florida uses a system called SpeedPass, which makes it much faster and easier as it’s all electronic. Most trucks don’t even have to stop – they are billed electronically.
We’re not sure what the system is in Rhode Island, but chances are that the extra time amounts to no more than a half an hour of delay at most. And we know that tolls can, most assuredly, have an impact on auto transport prices.
Potential ramifications of the tolls
Right now, many truckers that run through Rhode Island are unhappy with the tolls. That’s not surprising, and it’s not confined to just auto shipping carriers. Remember – the tolls affect all long-haul trucks passing through the state.
This could result in a few different things. Trucking companies could end up charging more for loads that originate in or terminate in Rhode Island, for instance. Trucks that pass through the state on a regular basis could also raise prices to combat the tolls.
As the program first rolled out in 2018, we still don’t know the long-term effects of it. That said, we could see slight price hikes for consumer goods and more pressure on businesses that rely on interstate trucks for their wares.
As a company with a vested interest in the success of long-haul trucking companies, we hope that this decision is not truly final. Long haul truckers are the backbone of the country, as we mentioned above. We should be working to make their lives and jobs easier instead of harder, considering how much we all rely on them on a daily basis.
We’ll see where this goes. But, in the words of ATA President and CEO Chris Spear, it’s far from over. We’ll keep you updated on how this may affect New England car shipping prices and services as we get deeper into the busy season as well.
Make sure to contact American Auto Shipping any time at 800-930-7417 for assistance shipping your vehicle. We can move any vehicle so long as it’s actually a vehicle, and we offer some of the most competitive rates in the industry. Give us a call to speak to a representative, get a quote, get your questions answered, and get started on your shipment today.