New York State Thruway Authority

Travel Plaza Operations

In the 1990s, the New York State Thruway Authority renovated its 27 travel plazas to improve customer service, including providing a variety of food vendors. The Authority contracts with Marriott Corporation and McDonalds Corporation to operate the plazas. These contractors pay the Authority rent and agree to charge the Authority-approved prices and maintain the plazas in good condition.

When the Authority surveyed its customers in 1998 and 2000, responses showed travelers wanted lower food prices and improved cleanliness at the plazas. However, we found the Authority does not monitor plaza contractors to make sure travelers are getting the services they need and the products they want at competitive prices. For example, we found that four typical lunch items cost 30 percent more at a plaza vendor than at the same type of vendor in a nearby off-Thruway store. Further, some vendors charged more than the approved price for food, and a number of plaza restrooms were not clean. To improve customer satisfaction and increase food sales, we recommend the Authority work with operators to price food competitively and to identify and respond to changes in customer demand. The Authority also needs to monitor contractor compliance with its pricing and cleanliness standards, and make sure contractors spend required amounts of money on Authority-approved capital repair and improvement projects.

For a complete copy of Report 2001-S-50 click here.
For a copy of the 90-day response click here.
For a copy of the associated follow-up report click here.