Traffic congestion on the U.S. National Highway System (NHS) added nearly $74.5 billion in operational costs to the trucking industry in 2016, a slight increase over 2015, according to research released by the American Transportation Research Institute (ATRI). This costs 1.2 billion hours of lost productivity or the equivalent of 425,533 commercial drivers sitting idle for an entire year. Unsurprisingly the bulk of the congestion (almost 87%) occurs on just 17.2 percent of NHS segment miles, mostly in dense urban areas.
So, what is the cost to of congestion to the trucking industry in on the East Coast? New York and New Jersey rank 4th and 5th respectively in congestion cost with the New York total $4,347,935,258 and New Jersey at $3,350,935,426 (see table below). Pennsylvania ranks 7th at a cost of $2,885,361,948, the crucial northeast corridor spends $10,584,232,632 on congestion (That’s with the fact that Pennsylvania had the largest congestion cost decrease).
Breaking the numbers down further, 91% of congestion occurs in metropolitan areas with New York/Newark/Jersey City leading the way at a cost of almost $5 billion (see below) with a cost per mile of $676,845. Worse yet, analyzing the costs at the county level, on a cost-per-NHS mile basis, the top four counties make up four-fifths of New York City
Clearly, the trucking industry pays a fortune for congestion but that fact seems to be lost on many New York politicians who think that charging a $25 tax on trucks will somehow ease congestion. Obviously, it won’t considering that the causes of congestion in New York aren’t trucks its overdevelopment, the removal of traffic and parking lanes, and purposely changing traffic signals and the speed limit to slow down traffic. Not to mention the explosion of For Hire Vehicles. Adding yet another congestion cost to trucking industry will only serve to drive companies out of business and increase costs to consumers.
One last thing to consider with the congestion pricing tax and that is that truck traffic is non-discretionary, trucks follow demand, and the revenue collected by the tax will go to secure debt meaning the $25 tax will steadily rise as it will be the non-discretionary travel will make up for revenue shortfalls.