Mobility in Context: New York City

Posted on October 14, 2019 by Jerom Theunissen

Transportation stakeholders in the NYC region are working on several initiatives to advance the city’s leadership on sustainable transportation.
Marc A. Hermann/MTA NYCT
Transportation stakeholders in the NYC region are working on several initiatives to advance the city’s leadership on sustainable transportation.
Marc A. Hermann/MTA NYCT

As New York City grows in population, jobs, and tourists, so too have the challenges facing the city’s mobility network. According to NYCDOT, roadways have grown increasingly congested with for-hire vehicles, which have added 36.9 million trips a year between 2016-17. What’s more, vehicle registrations citywide have increased, while freight traffic and home deliveries also continued to rise. Public transport modes have suffered as well: citywide bus speeds have declined to 7.58 mph, and the on-time rate for the subway hit the lowest point of 75.2% in January 2018. Ridership, which historically has grown in line with population increases, saw declines; the number of riders on the Subway and bus fell 2.1% and 5% respectively between 2016-2017.

With these challenges in mind, transportation stakeholders in the NYC region are working on several initiatives to advance the city’s leadership on sustainable transportation. To help tackle traffic congestion, Mayor DeBlasio announced policies in June of this year that extends the cap of for-hire vehicle registrations and seeks to limit the amount of time their drivers spend cruising, making New York City one of the toughest regulators of TNCs in the country. In tandem with these efforts, the New York State Legislature passed the state budget, granting MTA the authority to levy a charge on motor vehicles entering Manhattan’s central business district beginning January 2021. This congestion charge brings NYC in line with peer cities like London, Singapore, Milan, and Stockholm, and has the dual purpose of reducing congestion and raising funds to improve the MTA’s aging subway and bus systems.

The additional revenue from the CBD Tolling is anticipated to generate $15 billion in capital for the MTA, as detailed in the agency’s newly released Capital Program 2020-2024. As the MTA’s largest-ever capital plan, the agency hopes to make over $40 billion in capital investments in New York City Transit that build off the Subway Action Plan. These investments will support signal modernization, new subway cars, track replacement, station renewal, and station accessibility with elevators and ramps.

At the city level, NYCDOT has sought expansion of the Citi Bike bike-share program, improvements to bus travel speeds via the Better Buses initiative, and the creation of more accessible built environments for all New Yorkers. In alignment with the city’s Vision Zero initiative, the newly released Green Wave plan seeks to expand the rollout of dedicated cycling infrastructure and targeted enforcement. Altogether, NYCDOT and the MTA’s efforts promise to make sustainable transport modes more attractive and accessible for all New Yorkers as the city moves forward in planning, evaluating, and building new mobility systems.

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