Thanks to a new law, any New Yorker with a cell phone and some time to kill can report on idling commercial vehicles, and earn thousands of dollars doing it.
The law, enacted in January of 2018, lets anyone submit a complaint form to the city’s department of environmental protection if they document a bus, truck, or van with its engine on for at least three minutes. If the complaint goes through, whoever reported the idler gets a 25 percent cut of the fine, which can run anywhere from $300 to $2,000, for repeat offenders.
George Pakenham, a banker and clean air activist, knows that anti-idling laws have been on the books since the 1970s but were rarely enforced. He’s spent the last 10 years strolling through the city, asking drivers to turn off their engines. Now, with last year’s amendment to the law that lets anyone help to enforce it, he’s taken to the streets — and he’s making bank.
“I’ve submitted 120 times and I got paid nine thousand dollars,” Pakenham said. “Cash in the bank.”