A state lawmaker is calling for a new surcharge on packages delivered in New York City as a way to raise money for the cash-strapped Metropolitan Transportation Authority. Assembly Member Robert Carroll revived a bill he first introduced last February that would impose a $3 fee on all online delivery transactions, except for essential medical supplies and food. Facing its worst financial crisis in history because of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, the MTA has said without the $12 billion in aid from Congress it has requested, subway and bus service could be cut by 40 percent.
According to Carroll, the growth of online shopping has caused immense gridlock and air pollution. The New York Times reported last year that roughly 1.5 million packages on average get delivered throughout the five boroughs every day.
In a joint op-ed in the Daily News written by Carroll and John Samuelsen, the president of the Transport Workers Union, they argue a $3 surcharge on packages could raise $1 billion in revenue for the MTA, encourage residents to shop at local businesses, and reduce car traffic and pollution.
“There is one option that would raise more than $1 billion a year for the city’s subway and bus system — while also supporting small businesses and protecting the environment: a $3 surcharge on packages ordered online for delivery in New York City, excluding those with medicine or food,” Carroll and Samuelsen wrote.
The MTA, which said it’s losing up to $200 million per week because of a decline in ridership and toll and fare revenue, last month projected a deficit of roughly $16 billion through 2024. The agency has continued to push for aid from Washington, which they see as the only way to get out of the current financial crisis.
“We have been clear only $12 billion in federal relief can prevent drastic service cuts, layoffs and gutting our historic capital plan that would devastate our colleagues and customers,” Tim Minton, a spokesperson for the MTA, told Gothamist in a statement. “While the MTA welcomes creative solutions and any new revenue, the proposal is subject to the state legislative process and cannot itself solve the problem, which is why we urge continued advocacy in Washington.”
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