Ambulances wouldn’t have to pay tolls on the state’s turnpikes when responding to emergencies or taking patients to or from hospitals under a bill approved Thursday by a House panel.
The tolls are a hardship, especially to rural ambulance services that are struggling financially, said Rep. George Faught, the author of House Bill 2533. The ambulance service in Muskogee paid $4,500 in tolls last year, he said. The House Transportation Committee approved the measure 6-3. It now goes to the full House. Faught, R-Muskogee, said talks are under way with the state Turnpike Authority about developing a policy of not charging tolls to ambulances that are in service. If an agreement can be reached, the legislation would be unnecessary, Faught said. "They don’t mind trying to figure out a fix to this,” Faught said. Tim Stewart, assistant director of the Turnpike Authority, said his agency credits ambulances that are responding to accidents or medical calls and either have a Pikepass and are charged a toll or drive through a toll gate without paying.