The MTA has announced a 50 percent discount on tolls for truckers during nighttime hours this summer (MTA Press Release). While the stated purpose is to help with disruptions caused by “Amtrak-Forced Summer Service Cuts”, with construction at many of the toll plazas and on several subway lines as well, clearly the goal is to get ahead of congestion related complaints this summer. The tolls will be reduced for trucks at all MTA operated crossings from July 10th to September 1st between the hours of 10PM-5AM.
The idea is to alleviate as much congestion as possible. In addition, the MTA will accelerate projects such as bus and HOV lanes on Verrazano Bridge, the north tube on the Midtown Tunnel, and ramp reconstruction on the RFK Bridge.
Nighttime toll reductions for truckers are both welcome and overdue. There should have been overnight discounts all along. But discounts alone will not incentivize off-peak hour crossings. For nighttime deliveries, the customers must be on board. There are parking issues. Many neighborhoods will complain about nighttime truck traffic. Nighttime commercial parking in residential districts is still forbidden. Then there’s the three hour storage rule. Unless they’re just passing through, if there are no legal places to park, we won’t see many truckers taking advantage of the reductions. And those that might, if staying local, will simply park somewhere they shouldn’t.
Summer discount aside, the City is looking to increase off-hour deliveries moving forward. Their goal is to add 900 companies to the current 400 or so that receive their deliveries off-hours. Issues such as toll reductions, truck parking, and incentivizing companies to receive deliveries are all part of the equation to move deliveries to off-hours and reduce congestion while improving safety.
If the City and State can use the mass transit nightmare to better understand freight mobility and work on creative solutions to ease congestion, the region should emerge from Summer 2017 in much better shape.