New York Truckers File Lawsuit to Slam Brakes on Congestion Pricing

reprints


Truckers going eastbound and down(town) are suing to waylay the long-delayed tolling program that would charge a fee to drivers entering Manhattan’s central business district.

The Trucking Association of New York filed the lawsuit against the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) and New York State in Manhattan federal court on Thursday, claiming that the industry would not be able to take advantage of off-peak windows for cheaper tolls due to client demands during the day.

SEE ALSO: New York Landlord Larry Gluck Dies at 71

The MTA, which approved the pricing structure in March followed by the announced start date of June 30, built in toll discounts of up to 75 percent for drivers entering the zone between 9 p.m. to 5 a.m. But truckers say nighttime deliveries won’t work for vendors that don’t have a graveyard shift to receive shipments.

“The MTA’s reckless congestion pricing policy ignores the warnings and counsel of industry experts on both sides of the Hudson, who warn that the discriminatory way trucks and logistics companies are targeted by the plan will increase costs for residents everywhere,” Kendra Hems, president of the Trucking Association, said in a statement. “This lawsuit was a step we took only out of necessity after the MTA repeatedly refused to make any concessions to our industry and ultimately used our essential, hard-working members as a tool to meet their arbitrary funding requirements.”

The MTA declined to comment on the litigation.

Smaller trucking companies in particular will feel the weight of the $24 or $36 per day fee charged whentheir vehicle class enters Manhattan below 60th Street — as opposed to the $15 per day fee for cars. One proprietor told the New York Times that his business making 26,000 trips below 60th Street per year could pay anywhere between $400,000 to $500,000 on the toll.

The lawsuit is one of many attempts to either kill or delay the congestion pricing toll that has been in the works since at least 2017 during the transit crisis that took place that summer, establishing the need for billions in cash for the MTA.

In April, New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy sued the U.S. Department of Transportation and the Federal Highway Administration, claiming that the Garden State would bear the brunt of toll-shopping motorists avoiding the new fee.

And in January, the United Federation of Teachers, representing New York City public school teachers, along with Staten Island Borough President Vito Fossella, sued the U.S. DOT and the MTA, claiming that rerouted vehicles will add more air pollution to other parts of the city, especially around public schools.

The UFT and Fossella called for an environmental review of the plan. The MTA said a 500-page environmental impact study that was approved by the federal government in June of 2023 made the demand unnecessary.

Mark Hallum can be reached at mhallum@commercialobserver.com.