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Independent truckers say NYC congestion pricing could kill their businesses

The independent drivers say they can’t afford another fee if New York approves its congestion pricing plan.

Matt Trapani and Chris Keating

Jul 20, 2023, 9:02 PM

Updated 338 days ago


There was no indication from Metropolitan Transportation Authority officials at a meeting on congestion pricing Wednesday that New Jersey commuters or taxi drivers would be getting a break from the fees. But there was another group that was also not addressed – truck drivers who already pay heavy fees to operate.
Some truckers told News 12 New Jersey that congestion pricing could mean the end of their businesses. Independent truck drivers, those who own their own vehicles, say they could be priced out with the added fee.
Many truck drivers are proud to say that they are the backbone of the United States economy because they move all of the items that Americans buy and consume. But the independent drivers say they can’t afford another fee.
“We don’t make any profit, so it’s not a time to raise any taxes or to increase and add to the pain,” says Lazar Ivanov.
Ivanov owns and operates Alfa Team – a trucking company based out of Connecticut. He has five trucks and five drivers. He says that even without congestion pricing, he avoids New York City.
"You know, it's a headache. Traffic and smaller streets, congestion,” Ivanov says. “I'm avoiding the boroughs, all five boroughs, and try to get through as quickly as I can.”
Truckers pay $100 to get over the George Washington Bridge. They also pay more to gas up on diesel fuel and are forced to pay a Highway Use Tax, which goes to the Highway and Bridge Trust Fund.
Ivanov says even more drivers will avoid the city if congestion pricing goes into effect. For those choosing to deliver to Manhattan, there will be a trickle-down effect. Drivers will pass on that cost to businesses they deliver to, which could raise customer prices.
"When you start charging things like this back to trucking and transportation, somebody has to pay for it,” says Lewie Pugh, of the Independent Drivers Association.
Pugh represents 150,000 independent truckers. He says he does not support congestion pricing.
“It’s kind of double dipping, in my opinion,” Pugh says.
The MTA has so far not decided on how much drivers will be charged, saying only that it is expected to be somewhere between $9 and $23 - money needed to fund the upkeep of the subway and bus system.
“I hope the people in New York that are in charge of this rethink this,” Pugh says.
If truckers must pay more, Pugh says more truckers will find something else to haul that keeps them out of New York altogether.
The plan is to start congestion pricing by the spring of 2024.

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