Weiner: Alternatives To Car Tax
Representative Anthony Weiner, a member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, offered an alternative to the proposed Manhattan car tax today: a six point plan to combat the rising truck traffic in New York City, which is projected to grow significantly worse in the coming years, according to a report released by Weiner. Since 1998, truck traffic has increased nearly 30% on city roads and, by 2020 the number of miles traveled by trucks in New York City is projected to increase 83% citywide over the 1998 levels.
The rise in truck traffic outpaces the increase in other vehicular traffic by a more than 3 to 1 margin. While 30% more trucks fill the City's busy streets, car traffic rose only a modest 8% since 1998.
More trucks are jamming the city streets due to increased deliveries within the five boroughs, lack of other methods for transporting goods in and around the City and the rise in population.
According to Federal Highway Administration projections, Brooklyn and Staten Island will see the greatest increase in truck traffic by 2020, with 93% and 95% increases respectively over 1998 levels. The Bronx, Queens and Manhattan projections come in at 75%, 83% and 80%, respectively.
Weiner's report also shows that the City's river crossings are bursting at the seams. Since 1998, truck traffic on the Bayonne Bridge is up 84% and Lincoln Tunnel traffic increased 56% over the same time period.
To reduce this truck congestion, Rep. Weiner proposes the following six-point plan:
Increase Truck Tolls
During Peak Hours
According to a New York State Department of Transportation study, 96% of Manhattan deliveries take place during peak hours. To discourage truck traffic from passing through the City at peak hours, the Weiner plan would increase peak hour truck tolls on City river crossings that have existing tolls.
The Weiner plan would encourage businesses to receive deliveries at night in order reduce truck traffic in the City during rush hours, an idea similar to the NYC Department of Transportation's "Early Delivery Program" proposed in May 2006. To compensate for any extra staffing costs associated with off-peak deliveries, Weiner proposes that affected businesses receive a City tax credit which would be matched by the federal government. According to a 2006 study by the New York State DOT, a tax deduction of $10,000 may lead to more than 20% of restaurants switching to off-peak delivery.
Implement NYC DOT
Recommendations for NYPD
Training and Trucker Education
Last May, the NYC DOT conducted an exhaustive study which found that poor awareness and poor enforcement of truck laws is a major problem in New York City. Sixty-eight percent of truckers have little to no familiarity with truck laws and only 40 of 2,500 (2%) NYPD traffic enforcement officers are trained to do truck enforcement. The DOT issued dozens of recommendations for improving law enforcement training and trucker education, which should be promptly implemented.
Build Cross Harbor Rail
New York City is the only major city not connected to the national rail system and, as a result, 99% of the City's goods must be brought in by truck. The 5.5 mile rail freight tunnel proposed by Rep. Jerrold Nadler would run under NY Harbor from Sunset Park in Brooklyn to Greenville Yard in Jersey City and take one million trucks off City streets.
Lanes on Highways
Create High-Occupancy Truck Toll (HOTT) Lanes, a creative solution in PlaNYC to accelerate truck traffic that's been effective in other states. The City would use medians or service roads to create truck-only toll lanes, which would pay for themselves. Several key truck congestion bottlenecks which could benefit include the Cross-Bronx Expressway, the Staten Island Expressway, the Van Wyck, and the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway.
The NYPD already deploys taskforces to key choke points like midtown and the entrances to bridges and tunnels. The Weiner plan adopts PlaNYC's proposal to increase the number of traffic officers and cameras, and further expands the number of patrolled areas with highly publicized zero-tolerance enforcement teams.
"Taxing people to drive from one borough to the next is not the answer," said Rep. Weiner. "But reducing congestion must be a top priority, and to achieve this goal we must reduce the number of trucks on city streets."