Would you believe that there is something that can be done right now to increase funding for transit and infrastructure, reduce congestion, and level an unfair playing field? No, not Move NY or other tolling schemes. Those won’t reduce congestion and are patently unfair to outer borough businesses and commuters. What is needed is a robust crackdown on registration abuse. Richmond County DA Michael E. McMahon has started a campaign to raise awareness for this problem. His office has been issuing “mock tickets” with the message: “Welcome to Staten Island! If you are just visiting us, we hope you enjoy your stay! If you live on Staten Island, you must register this vehicle in New York State.”
Back in 2011, The State Senate looked to fight auto insurance evasion. Unfortunately, the problem has not been rectified but the stats are alarming. Their report found that about one quarter of all NYC drivers have cars registered out of state. This cost the City around $73 million in in unpaid parking tickets alone. This costs the State around $1 million a year in fees for license plates, titles, and registrations. The State also loses out on sales tax related to auto purchases, as well as lost revenue for the auto service industry (gas stations, mechanics, etc.).
The reason for this is simple. The costs to insure a vehicle in New York are enormous. Registering a vehicle in Pennsylvania costs around 30% less. This is estimated to cost $19 million a year in underpriced premiums, a reason why insurance is so high to begin with.
City pols and advocates love the statistic that only about 46% of New York City residents own a car and use this information when creating transit policy. When factoring in the huge amount of out of state registered vehicles, the City has been making decisions based on incomplete data. The City has also been aggressively eliminating parking, adding yet another competitive disadvantage to NY registered vehicle owners and contributing to congestion.
The technology easily exists for the NYPD and State Troopers to scan for unregistered vehicles. There is a large amount of revenue to be collected by mechanisms already in place. A crackdown will force some to ditch their cars as they will no longer be worth the hassle. We can reduce the number of cars, increase revenue, and increase fairness while just enforcing laws that are already in place.