Pick any random three or four letters in the alphabet. Chances are you’ll hit a combination that stands for a tax on trucks in New York or a court or agency that assesses fines: HUT, IFTA, CMVT, PVB, TVB, OATH, the list goes on. Yet, apparently that isn’t enough, as Governor Cuomo’s Fix NYC advisory panel, in a tribute to Orwellian doublespeak, advised him that the best way to ease roadway congestion in Manhattan and fix the mismanaged and wasteful Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) that manages NYC’s subways, is to come up with an income stream to provide them with more money. That income stream will come from motorists entering Manhattan’s Central Business Zone (CBZ) and falls heaviest on trucks, to the tune of $25.34 per trip, depending on time of day.
As if the increased revenue stream weren’t enough, the panel, which did not include anyone from the trucking industry or driving public, recommends increasing enforcement of traffic rules to ease congestion. Increased enforcement and tolls aren’t going to change congestion. Let’s get this straight, traffic is a symptom of poor government policies like overdevelopment, the removal of traffic and parking lanes, and purposely changing traffic signals and the speed limit to slow down traffic. Aside from that, even though the number of vehicles entering Manhattan each weekday is down compared to a few years ago, the number of app-based for hire vehicles has skyrocketed, with many cruising the streets or parking in truck delivery zones waiting for their next call. Insufficient enforcement? The combined revenue from parking tickets and moving violations has never been higher. So, not only is New York looking to charge trucks a $25.34 toll, they are looking to add another tax in terms of yet more ticket revenue, and they are going after the reputation and livelihood of professional drivers by putting points on their records with more moving violations.
Not only are the congestion pricing tolls bad for the industry but they will be burdensome for businesses and residents in the CBZ. Since 91% of all goods coming in and out of New York City are carried by truck you can expect the increased trucking costs to be passed on to the customers.
The plan also contemplates shifting deliveries to off-hours. Clearly the panel has no understanding that trucks do not control the delivery times. Construction materials, medical and restaurant supplies, heating oil, HVAC repair, package shipments, and other things are time sensitive. The truckers do not get to choose the hour. Besides, the lack of overnight truck parking in the region makes the staging of off-hour deliveries difficult, even if the customers are open to it.
Also, problematic for truckers is that the congestion pricing scheme relies on cashless tolling on every street leading into the CBZ. As we’ve said before cashless tolling is plagued with a host of problems that must be resolved before it can be used to tax access to the CBZ (See: Congestion Pricing Through Cashless Tolling-Not Ready For Prime Time & Is The Path To Highway Hell Paved With Cashless Tolls).
Of course, the New York State Legislature must approve the congestion pricing scheme, so there is still opportunity to reach out to legislators and influence the outcome. Calls from truckers and their customers to their elected officials letting them know what they think about the plan is extremely important. Voices can be magnified when you join with business or trade associations that regularly advocate on your behalf.
This is not just about raising revenue. The trucking industry is more a victim of congestion than the cause. The theory behind congestion pricing is to get people to use alternative forms of transportation. Trucks have no alternatives and must not be viewed as the MTA’s ATM.
(Want a “Trucks: NOT the MTA’s ATM” bumper sticker? Contact us.)