Rethinking Freight Traffic in NYC

Currently, almost 90% of New York City’s freight, the transporting of goods in bulk, is moved via diesel trucks. New Yorkers spend an average of 90 hours in traffic per year, and freight traffic is a great contributor to road congestion. The congestion not only hurts commerce, but also increases greenhouse gas emissions due to pollution from vehicles.  An effective, environmentally-friendly, modern freight system is crucial to keep up with population growth, reduce tailpipe emissions and truck congestion.

The NYC Economic Development Corporation (EDC) recently announced its plan to revamp New York City’s freight system with the Freight NYC initiative. Freight NYC is designed to encourage maritime and railroad alternatives to trucks.  The initiative will create a better functioning freight system while creating 4,000 well-paying jobs, reducing shipping costs, and improving air quality through greener freight transportation systems.

The EDC is looking to utilize the potential of one of New York City’s greatest natural resources, the surrounding water, as a more sustainable mode of freight transport. By opening more ports within the city, they can increase the shipping of goods by freight boats, ultimately reducing truck travel.

The initiative will also encourage freight travel through railroads. New York City has over 90 miles of railway and more than 70,000 rail cars, but only 2% of freight is transported by train. EDC will better connect rail networks in and around New York City to national rail networks. The plan also includes an increase of rail tracks, similar to lanes in a highway, to expand capacity for each shipment and the amount of shipments, further diminishing reliance on trucks.

In addition to reducing street congestion and pollution, Freight NYC will make trucks cleaner and more energy efficient. EDC will create more multimodal freight hubs across the city to improve access between freight trucks, trains, and boats. These hubs will also feature electric vehicle charging stations in order to encourage the use of electric vehicles, alternatives to fuel, and carbon-neutral shipping.

Through this plan, EDC estimates a reduction of 40 million miles traveled by trucks every year, as well as the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions by 71,500 metric tons.

This initiative is a win for New York City and NYLCV’s members who helped push for reduced emissions from truck traffic as part of our NYC priorities this year.