At rush hour on a recent weekday, Hector Rivera was unloading electronic goods outside a camera store in Midtown Manhattan. The longtime truck driver makes several trips across Brooklyn, New Jersey and Manhattan each day.
"I hate the traffic," Rivera said, speaking in Spanish. "It's what I dislike most about coming into Manhattan."
Some days, Rivera said, it takes him more than an hour just to travel from the exit of the Lincoln Tunnel, between Manhattan and New Jersey, to his unloading point less than a mile away. He passes the time listening to salsa, merengue, bachata and Mexican folk music.
On weekends, Rivera sometimes drives a car service for extra money. When he comes into Manhattan from his home in Sunset Park, a working-class neighborhood in southwestern Brooklyn, he still prefers to drive.
"I hate taking the train. And on weekends? Forget about it. It's miserable," he said, recalling a recent trip with his family that took over two hours and required multiple subway transfers. "I'd prefer to pay for parking rather than deal with the train."
Experiences like Rivera's are at the heart of a new proposal to reduce traffic and improve mass transit in New York.
In a report released last week, the "Fix NYC" transportation task force, appointed by New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo last fall, recommended charging drivers a fee to enter Manhattan's central business district — and using the revenue to improve the public transit system.