The notion that trucks don’t pay their fair share and should pay additional fees to enter midtown Manhattan just to fund the MTA is absurd. There’s no free ride for trucks. Truckers pay 4-5 times higher registration fees than cars and pay additional surcharges if registered in the metro area. They also pay a mileage-based State Highway Use Tax (HUT), a City Commercial Motor Vehicle Tax (MVT) of up to $300/vehicle), parking tickets and higher tolls than for passenger vehicles (a standard box truck pays $17.05 one way at the midtown tunnel with an E-ZPass while a car pays $5.76). To top it off, the cost of congestion for the trucking industry has been estimated at about $4.6 billion annually in lost productivity, according to the American Transportation Research Institute.
Aside from trucks being taxed and assessed enough, they are not the cause of midtown congestion. In fact, the NYC DOT says that midtown traffic is down by about 50,000 vehicles each weekday. So what’s causing the congestion? Overdevelopment, construction activity, traffic and parking lane removal, the explosion in app-based for-hire vehicles and poorly timed traffic signals are the true causes. Traffic congestion is just a symptom of poor planning and purposeful traffic micromanagement.
Let’s face it, driving into Manhattan is neither fun nor cheap. We suspect that most drivers, commercial or otherwise, use the crossing that’s most convenient or direct, not the cheapest. Time, after all, is money. If drivers always went to the free bridges, there would never be any traffic at the tolled crossings like the Midtown or Battery Tunnels.
One of the “selling points” of recent congestion pricing schemes was a “toll swap” – a reduction in tolls between Queens and the Bronx in exchange for tolls to enter midtown Manhattan. But that’s a red herring. Those that need to go into Manhattan will not benefit by that move and, without any protections, its easy to imagine that tolls that can be reduced can easily be raised again. Its ludicrous to hear so-called transportation “advocates” argue that these reductions somehow confer greater benefit on outer borough businesses and residents than those already in Manhattan. After all, the MTA has spent billions on grand Manhattan subway stations, the Second Avenue subway and the Grand Central access project, none of which directly benefit the outer boroughs.
Trucks are the engine which drives our economy, not a cash cow for the MTA. To assess new fees on those who operate trucks in the course of their business simply to generate money to subsidize the unaccountable, mismanaged MTA, will not address congestion and merely kicks the can down the road. We must end the MTA’s borrow, spend, whine, repeat cycle. Instead of looking to squeeze more revenue out of trucking, we should be fixing the MTA, expanding mass transit and improving infrastructure to ease congestion, growing the local economy and discussing how to fairly pay for it all.
Trucks are NOT the ATM for the MTA! (Want a bumper sticker? Contact us.)