Truckers Weigh Higher Costs, Open Roads in New York Fees
Date: Tuesday, April 2, 2019
Source: The Wall Street Journal
Congestion pricing plan could smooth delivery routes, but key details on Manhattan street plan remain undecided
Trucking companies say a congestion-pricing plan in the works for New York City may make deliveries more expensive but could create valuable room to move through the city’s busiest business districts.
New York lawmakers approved the measure, which is expected to begin in 2021, on Sunday. Many details are still being worked out, including how much trucks and cars would pay to enter the congestion zone south of 60th Street in Manhattan.
Executives of trucking companies say the financial impact will depend in part on whether existing tolls would be factored into the fee, which hasn’t yet been determined. A panel convened by New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo suggested last year that trucks could pay a flat fee of $25.34 a day, but the budget directed that the fee should be variable, which could mean higher rates during peak traffic periods.
“Mom-and pop delivery companies are going to be having to raise their prices,” said Ken Thorpe, chairman of the New York Trucking and Delivery Association. “They already cannot compete with the bigger corporations.”
Curtis Hight, president of Manhattan-based Crown Delivery & Logistics Inc., said he would likely raise the price per job he pays the company’s contract drivers, who deliver everything from boxes and furniture to props for photo shoots.
“If we don’t do that they’re just not going to make enough money to put gas in their vehicles, do maintenance on their trucks and make money for themselves,” said Mr. Hight, who blamed much of the traffic on an influx of ride-sharing vehicles and taxis.
Still, he said, if the plan reduced the amount of vehicles on the streets “and our delivery drivers can get around faster, it would be a benefit,” adding, “I’d have more of a problem if congestion pricing was going to close down zones so I can’t make delivery.”
F&I Trucking Corp. will likely pass any congestion fees on to customers, owner Thomas Cuccurullo said. The Brooklyn carrier has 14 trucks that deliver goods to commercial sites around New York City, often making multiple trips each day.
“Do they pay every time or do they pay once?” Mr. Cuccurullo said. “It makes me very concerned for my business and for my customers.”
United Parcel Service Inc., whose delivery trucks are a fixture on Manhattan streets, said it was early to comment on the plan’s impact. FedEx Corp. and online grocer Fresh Direct LLC declined to comment.
Lior Rachmany, chief executive of Dumbo Moving & Storage Inc., said he supported the congestion-pricing plan. Congestion between Battery and 60th Street increases the risk of parking tickets for his local delivery fleet of 75 trucks, he said, and has pushed insurance premiums higher for trucking companies operating in the city.
“If I will avoid getting parking tickets then I’m willing to pay between $25 to $40 per truck,” including tolls, which he already covers for his contract drivers, who use the company’s E-ZPass account, Mr. Rachmany said. “The math is pretty simple.”