PlaNYC: Transportation



Where would New York be with­out pub­lic trans­porta­tion? New York’s trans­porta­tion sys­tem moves more peo­ple and goods than any­where in the world. Our sub­way sys­tem alone was built almost a cen­tu­ry ago.  How­ev­er, as every New York­er knows, bus­es and trains can be unre­li­able and incon­sis­tent.  Improv­ing pub­lic trans­porta­tion is an invest­ment in New York’s future.

Although there is a to-do list, the city has already start­ed some improve­ments. For bus ser­vice, the MTA launched the first rapid bus tran­sit lines: Select Bus Ser­vice, which has been a tremen­dous suc­cess so far.  The city’s bicy­cle net­work has almost dou­bled in the past few years, and safe­ty is con­stant­ly improv­ing.  Traf­fic and delays low­er pro­duc­tiv­i­ty, and it costs the region more than $13 mil­lion per year.  PlaNYC aims to smooth pub­lic trans­porta­tion and improve the entire sys­tem for every­one.


Ini­tia­tive 1: Improve and expand bus ser­vice through­out the city

Over 2.3 mil­lion New York­ers ride the bus each week.  Bus ser­vice, how­ev­er, is often crit­i­cized for its slow speed and incon­sis­ten­cies.  To com­bat this, the MTA launched the first SBS route in the Bronx.  (SBS routes use off-board fare col­lec­tion, ded­i­cat­ed bus lanes, sig­nal pri­or­i­ti­za­tion, and effi­cient stop spac­ing to speed a rider’s trip.) Since the launch in 2008, the Bx12 improved its ser­vice by 20% and total rid­er­ship increased by 10%. In 2010, the­se bus routes were added on 1st and 2nd Avenues.  The city and the MTA will con­tin­ue expand­ing this ser­vice, adding SBS routes on Nos­trand Ave in Brook­lyn and 34th Street in Man­hat­tan, as well as Hyland Boule­vard in Staten Island.  Bus lanes are anoth­er easy way to improve ser­vice.  After cre­at­ing a bus land on the M34, ser­vice improved by 17% and rid­er­ship grew by 6%.  Anoth­er fea­ture to be imple­ment­ed is sig­nal pri­or­i­ti­za­tion, which rec­og­nizes when a bus is at or approach­ing a light.  The city and MTA also hopes to provide real-time bus infor­ma­tion for online, mobile, or on-street LCD dis­plays.  Bus Time is cur­rent­ly avail­able for the B63 and is com­ing to 31 Staten Island bus routes.


Ini­tia­tive 2: Improve and expand sub­way and com­muter rail.

There are three Mega Projects cur­rent­ly under­way that encom­pass the largest New York trans­porta­tion expan­sion in 70 years.  The Num­ber 7 Line is being extend­ed to Hud­son yards and Manhattan’s west side.  Phase 1 of the Sec­ond Ave Sub­way is also ongo­ing.  The Q will run on the Sec­ond Ave Line between 63rd St and 96th St.   This will alle­vi­ate the over­crowd­ing of the Lex­ing­ton Line, which car­ries more than 1.3 mil­lion rid­ers per day, more than the Boston and Chicago sys­tems togeth­er. It is on sched­ule to be com­plet­ed by 2016.  The oth­er project under­way will bring Long Island Rail Road ser­vice to Grand Cen­tral Ter­mi­nal.  This will reduce over crowd­ing at Penn Sta­tion and make the East Side more avail­able for thou­sands of com­muters, mean­ing a short­er com­mute.  As the adver­tise­ments say “that’s a lot of min­utes.”


Ini­tia­tive 3: Expand for-hire vehi­cle ser­vice through­out our neigh­bor­hoods.

The yel­low NYC taxis is famous world­wide.  Taxis and car ser­vices provide move more than 1.2 mil­lion peo­ple every day, and a sur­vey has said that 66% of rid­ers believed that tax­es helped them live with­out a car. Taxis are a key part in keep­ing New York inde­pen­dent of per­son­al vehi­cles.  How­ev­er, 94% of all taxi trips orig­i­nate in Man­hat­tan, while more than 80% of res­i­dents live in the out­er bor­oughs.  New York plans to expand ‘yel­low-cal­iber’ taxi ser­vice to neigh­bor­hoods beyond low­er and cen­tral Man­hat­tan by licens­ing more cabs. The City is com­mit­ted to keep­ing New York acces­si­ble.


Ini­tia­tive 4: Pro­mote car-shar­ing

Only 54% of New York City house­holds own a car.  The city is com­mit­ted to keep­ing this per­cent­age down, so there is less eco­nom­ic and envi­ron­men­tal impact.  The City is already the largest mar­ket for car-shar­ing (ser­vices like Zip­Car) in the coun­try.  So far, in 2010 a pilot pro­gram was launched to replace 50 City-owned vehi­cles with Zip­Cars.  More oppor­tu­ni­ties to for car-shar­ing will con­tin­ue to be explored.


Ini­tia­tive 5: Expand and improve fer­ry ser­vice

Between the 5 bor­oughs, Fer­ries car­ry over 90,000 peo­ple each day.  Since Man­hat­tan is an island, there are ample oppor­tu­ni­ties for expand­ed fer­ry ser­vice. A com­pre­hen­sive Staten Island Fer­ry Study to improve ser­vice.  There will also be a pilot fer­ry ser­vice along the East River. The route will ser­vice Queens West, Green­point, North and South Williams­burg and Ful­ton Fer­ry in Brook­lyn, East 34th Street and Wall Street/Pier 11.  The City will be eval­u­at­ing recre­ation­al and com­muter fer­ry use, as well as study­ing the neces­si­ties for bike space and con­nec­tiv­i­ty with bus ser­vice.


Ini­tia­tive 6: Make bicy­cling safer and more con­ve­nient

There have been a lot of improve­ments to New York City to make it more bicy­cle friend­ly. Pro­tect­ed bike lanes, for exam­ple, crash-relat­ed injuries drop by as much as 40%.  In order to keep this up, and con­tin­ue expand­ing the bike net­work, the City is look­ing into ini­tia­tives for bike park­ing, edu­ca­tion, and imple­men­ta­tion of a bike-shar­ing pro­gram.  The goal is to dou­ble bicy­cle com­mut­ing from 2007 lev­els by 2012, and tripling it by 2017.  Bike shar­ing has been a hit in oth­er cities, such as Lon­don, Paris, and DC, and is a great can­di­date to increase bicy­cle use.


Ini­tia­tive 7: Enhance pedes­tri­an access and safe­ty

In a pedes­tri­an-heavy city, acci­dents are not uncom­mon.  How­ev­er, 2009 was the safest year on record; acci­dents were down 35% from 2001. To enhance pedes­tri­an safe­ty, count­down cross­walk sig­nals have been installed at over 1,500 inter­sec­tions, and garages will adopt new guide­li­nes to ensure pedes­tri­an safe­ty around cars pulling out.  The City has also imple­ment­ed 32 Safe Routes to Schools projects.  Safe Routes adds more safe­ty patrols and reduces traf­fic speeds around school dis­tricts.


Ini­tia­tive 8: Pilot tech­nol­o­gy and pric­ing-based mech­a­nism to reduce traf­fic con­ges­tion

Cars in the city are a prob­lem that needs to be care­ful­ly addressed.  For one, there are phys­i­cal lim­i­ta­tions to the cities abil­i­ty to hold cars.  Stud­ies have shown, how­ev­er, that pric­ing strate­gies are the most effi­cient means of affect­ing change. ParkS­mart is a park­ing pro­gram designed to encour­age turnover of park­ing spaces by charg­ing high­er prices dur­ing peak hours.  The City has also recent­ly replaced over 11,500 park­ing meters with Muni-Meters, which allow deb­it and cred­it card pay­ment options and free up side­walk space.


Ini­tia­tive 9: Mod­i­fy park­ing reg­u­la­tions to bal­ance the needs of neigh­bor­hoods

There is a say­ing: “If you build it they will come.”  The wor­ry with park­ing is that, in a dense city like New York, if park­ing space is built, more peo­ple will bring cars, which is not the goal at all.  In fact, park­ing spaces in res­i­den­tial build­ings were pro­hib­it­ed until 1938 in New York City.  This is of course not viable now, but set­ting park­ing require­ments involves bal­anc­ing demands with the con­se­quences.  The City will com­plete a study of park­ing trends in Man­hat­tan to iden­ti­fy how to revise park­ing reg­u­la­tions.


Ini­tia­tive 10: Reduce truck con­ges­tion on city streets

A large part of the trans­porta­tion sys­tem is mov­ing freight to shops and busi­ness­es, and over 90% of the­se prod­ucts are trans­port­ed by truck.  The­se deliv­er­ies are essen­tial to the New York econ­o­my, but trucks on the street con­tribute tremen­dous­ly to on-street con­ges­tions, which in turn delays deliv­er­ies.  A recent pilot found that, by shift­ing deliv­er­ies to off-peak hours, trucks expe­ri­ence less con­ges­tion and dra­mat­i­cal­ly increase their pro­duc­tiv­i­ty.  The City hopes to expand this pro­gram and also imple­ment com­mer­cial paid park­ing at high-demand load­ing zones, which will encour­age off-peak deliv­ery.


Ini­tia­tive 11: Improve freight move­ment

Trucks, while very nec­es­sary, are noisy and have a lot of dan­ger­ous emis­sions.  So, the City is look­ing into meth­ods to reduce truck delivery’s neg­a­tive impact.  One solu­tion would be to shift more freight from trucks to rails and barges.


Ini­tia­tive 12: Improve our gate­ways to the nation and the world

Cities depend on being acces­si­ble and inter­con­nect­ed with the rest of the world.  New York City sits in the mid­dle of the North­east, one of the largest mega­lopolis­es in the US.  This means there is tremen­dous poten­tial for a high-speed pas­sen­ger rail line.  In addi­tion, the three area air­ports that serve New York (La Guardia, JFK, and Newark Lib­er­ty) are extreme­ly impor­tant, and delays rip­ple across the entire air net­work.  Car­go is one of the largest prob­lems at the­se air­ports.  The City is con­duct­ing a com­pre­hen­sive study, and work­ing with the Fed­er­al Avi­a­tion Admin­is­tra­tion to improve all aspects of flight for New York.


Ini­tia­tive 13: Seek fund­ing to main­tain and improve our mass tran­sit net­work.

The MTA’s sub­way, bus, and region­al rail ser­vices provide 8.5 mil­lion rides per day, yet fare box col­lec­tion accounts for only 41% of the MTA’s bud­get.  The City will con­tin­ue to work with the MTA to con­tin­ue ser­vice New York.


Ini­tia­tive 14: Main­tain and improve our roads and bridges

The City has been able to use $267.3 mil­lion in fed­er­al stim­u­lus fund­ing to fund stop-gap repairs to the road sys­tems, but find­ing ongo­ing fund­ing is still a chal­lenge.  Only 72% of New York roads are in a ‘good’ pave­ment con­di­tion, though only 4 of our bridges are rat­ed below ‘fair’ con­di­tions.  The City is work­ing with the State to speed the process of repairs, and nav­i­gate unnec­es­sary paper­work.



Over­all, there is much work to be done, but if New York does not invest in it’s trans­porta­tion sys­tem now, the costs will be even more expen­sive in the future.  The City is com­mit­ted to main­tain­ing a top-notch sys­tem to trans­port peo­ple and goods in and around the met­ro­pol­i­tan area.