Thruway drivers overpaid for gas, ranging from two cents to 26 cents a gallon, at some Thruway travel plazas because station operators did not follow contract requirements, according to an audit released today by state Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli.
One of the plazas cited was New Baltimore, south of Albany.
"Customers paid more for gas on the Thruway than they should have," DiNapoli said. "The amounts were small, but it can make a big difference to businesses and drivers who are frequent travelers on the Thruway. The Thruway is already hiking the tolls. Drivers shouldn't be nickel and dimed at the pump too."
In August, DiNapoli called on the Thruway Authority to post gas prices at rest stops on its Web site. The Thruway Authority acted on DiNapoli's recommendation and now posts gas prices for every service plaza at its site, which can be seen by clicking HERE.
The Thruway Authority contracts with Sunoco and Lehigh (selling Mobil gas) to provide gas at the Thruway's 27 travel plazas. Under the contract, the station operators must set gas prices based on the prices at other gas stations in the region. Sunoco and Lehigh are required to survey the prices of local gas stations on a weekly basis and adjust prices with the Thruway Authority's approval.
To determine whether gas prices charged at travel plazas were in compliance with contractual limits, auditors examined the prices charged by a sample of eight stations over a four-month period from May 1, 2008 to August 31, 2008. Auditors found that three stations (Dewitt, Sloatsburg and New Baltimore) overcharged customers for gas from 2 cents to 26 cents per gallon. The other stations reviewed include Angola, Clarence, Guilderland, Malden and Ulster.