2007-10-12 / Community

Weiner:Don't Charge Motorists,Cut Truck Traffic

Following new reports that have confirmed New York City's mass transit system is not ready for the Mayor's proposed congestion tax, Representative Anthony Weiner renewed his call today for his plan to reduce congestion by focusing on reducing the number of trucks. Truck traffic is the biggest cause of congestion in the city. The rise in truck traffic outpaces the increase in other vehicular traffic by a more than three-to-one margin. Since 1998, 30 percent more trucks fill the city's busy streets while car traffic rose only a modest 8 percent.

This past January, Weiner released a four- point plan for reducing truck congestion without implementing a congestion fee to all motorists, stating:

"These reports confirm what any straphanger already knows- the mass transit system is simply not ready to absorb significant increased ridership.

"We must solve the challenge of congestion in the City, but the most effective way to do it is by focusing on the real problem - trucks.

For every truck we get off the road during midday hours, it's the equivalent of removing over two cars, and we can do it now without building a huge new bureaucracy."

The Weiner plan to reduce congestion in New York City: • Increase Truck Tolls During Peak Hours: According to a New York State Department of Transportation study, 96 percent 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 peakhour truck tolls on city river crossings that have existing tolls. • Incentivize Nighttime Truck Deliveries: The Weiner plan would encourage businesses to receive deliveries at night in order to 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, Rep. 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 percent of restaurants switching to offpeak 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 NYPD traffic enforcement officers (2 percent) 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 Freight Tunnel: New York City is the only major city not connected to the national rail system and, as a result, 99 percent 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 New York Harbor from Sunset Park in Brooklyn to Greenville Yard in Jersey City and take 1 million trucks off city streets. • Dramatically Increase Ferry Service: Weiner has previously laid out a vision for the city's most under-utilized asset, its waterfront. He secured $15 million for fast ferry service for the city, which he envisions being linked to the mass transit system by the Metrocard. • Expand Bus Rapid Transit: Weiner was an early supporter of expanding Bus Rapid Transit, securing $736,000 in federal dollars for New York City.

The MTA system hasn't been expanded in 60 years, and usage of mass transit has gone up 36 percent in the city over the last 10 years, exceeding population growth. New York City's overcrowded mass transportation system isn't sufficient, in terms of capacity, quality or accessibility to accommodate significant increased ridership. • About 57.5 percent, or 164,500, of projected car commuters would shift to public transit (a 7.5 percent increase in MTA ridership). • Rush-hour ridership on many of the city's subway lines currently exceeds capacity. The 4 and 5 trains are already approximately 20 percent over capacity during rush hour; other lines with comparable levels of peak-period crowding include the F-train from Queens and the L-train from Brooklyn. • New report shows the unfunded capital costs associated with enhanced transit service to accommodate congestion pricing plan totals $767 million.

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