The New York City transit strike, which ended Thursday, forced trucking companies serving the City to wrestle with commercial vehicle bans during certain hours, traffic gridlocks, and tardy trucking and shipping workers. Tom Walker, operations manager of regional carrier A. Duie Pyle, told FleetOwner he sees two long term impacts: it will reinforce the existing trend of subregional carriers avoiding direct service to Manhattan; and potentially higher bridge tolls controlled by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority.
“We’re seeing more companies that will come to one side [of the Hudson River] and not the other,” Walker said. “I’m sure they sat around last week and said, ‘boy aren’t we geniuses.’ And as for the few carriers that are loyal to the market— we got caught last week.”
Last week during the transit strike there was a truck ban in Manhattan south of 93rd St. between 5 am and 11 am. Many carriers had frozen new pickups in the area, while trying to get into the City as early as possible, Walker said. Package delivery company FedEx Corp. announced there would be pickup and delivery delays because of the strike.
Walker said he expects that truck lines will increasingly turn to local cartage companies to transfer freight at the New Jersey border, instead of entering midtown Manhattan directly. As a result service will suffer as this would add a transit day as well as cost.
“In an on-time world, a loss of a day would be huge,” Walker said.
“We’ve committed ourselves to being a regional,” Walker continued. “We can stay as such, but now I could see why many carriers have made the decision [to not serve NYC directly]. That will eventually hurt the City. A new carrier entering the market will work around there. They’d expand north or south but not cross Hudson.”
Walker also pointed out that the transit strike did not result in a labor contract, which means issues like transit workers’ pension and health care remain at large. “My fear is we’ll see an increase in bridge tolls [controlled by MTA] as a result,” Walker said. “If the city gives in and continues to pay high health care and pension costs, it would have to get that money from somewhere.”
He added that an increase in bridge tolls would be an easier avenue to boost revenue to pay for transit benefits than an increase in subway fares. “There’s less resistance in a mass transit town to increasing bridge tolls than subway fares.”