New York truckers file congestion pricing lawsuit, alleging unfair burden

NEW YORK — Truck drivers filed a lawsuit in Manhattan federal court Thursday seeking an injunction to stop the MTA’s congestion charging plan, arguing that the current tolling system is unconstitutional and unfair to truckers.

The suit, filed against the MTA by the Trucking Association of New York, argues that truck drivers would receive the most burdensome tolls under the MTA’s plan and would be among the least able to use other transportation options.

“Our members are particularly harmed by the MTA’s toll structure, which is why we felt it necessary to take today’s action,” TANY Director Kendra Hems said Thursday.

Thursday’s lawsuit differs from other legal challenges to congestion pricing in that it does not seek federal approval of the program, but the program’s tolling structure approved by the MTA earlier this year.

Under the plan – which is currently being reviewed by federal regulators ahead of the tolling’s scheduled start on June 30 – trucks and other large commercial vehicles will be charged each time they enter the congestion toll zone .

Other vehicles, including passenger cars and small commercial vehicles, will only be charged once per day, regardless of the number of times they travel south of 61st Street.

The base toll of $15 will increase based on vehicle size. Commuter and school buses will be exempt. Overnight discounts and credits for passing through the tunnel will apply to large trucks as well as other vehicles charged under the plan.

“These (other) drivers, by and large, have the option of taking transit or other transportation to enter the area,” Hems said.

“The trucking industry, on the other hand, has to pay between $24 and $36 – depending on the size of the truck – every time they enter this zone,” she continued.

“They don’t have a lot of control over the routes they take each day because it’s dictated by their customers,” Hems added, calling the result an “undue burden” on his members.

Truckers cannot board a commuter or subway train to make their deliveries, the suit says.

“We would like MTA to go back to the drawing board on the toll structure and come up with a fair and equitable solution for all users entering the area,” Hems said.

Brian Carr, an attorney representing the truckers in their lawsuit, argued Thursday that the MTA’s toll structure “does not meet constitutional requirements” because it would unfairly limit interstate commerce.

MTA executives declined to comment on the lawsuit Thursday.

Congestion pricing is the subject of three other lawsuits in Manhattan federal court, brought by city residents and the United Federation of Teachers. The state of New Jersey also filed a lawsuit, and two lawsuits were also launched in upstate counties.

In the New Jersey and Manhattan lawsuits, MTA lawyers argued that any legal challenge to their tolling plan was premature because the Federal Highway Administration has not yet given final approval indicating that tolls do not change not significantly the government’s decision. that congestion pricing will not have a significant negative impact on the environment.

Any decision before that conclusion would undo the federal agency’s work, MTA lawyers said, and lawsuits over the not-yet-completely-final toll plan are not legally “ripe.”

However, the agency still plans to flip the proverbial toll plan switch on June 30 and begin charging trucks, cars and other motor vehicles traveling on surface streets in Midtown and Lower Manhattan.