New York City’s streets are ‘more congested than ever’: report

A view of a busy city street with several lanes of traffic, with buildings in the background. There are several cars waiting at stoplights, including yellow taxi cabs. People are walking through the intersection, and several cyclists are also riding bikesShutterstock

A new report from the Department of Transportation shows an
“unsustainable” increase in congestion in Manhattan

You’re not imagining it: New York City’s streets are more
congested, and slow-moving, than ever. That’s one of the results
of the NYC Department of Transportation’s latest mobility survey,
which looked at how New Yorkers are getting around the city—on
foot, public transit, in cars, and more.

One big takeaway: It’s taking longer than ever to get around
Manhattan. Both citywide bus speeds and the average travel speed
within the borough’s central business district (the area south of
60th Street) are the slowest they’ve been in decades Buses
average 7.58 miles per hour—it was 8 miles per hour in
1990—while the travel speed in Manhattan is now just over 7 miles
per hour, down from 9 miles per hour in 1990. (It’s even worse in
the “Midtown Core,” where speeds average a paltry 4.9 miles per
hour.)

What gives? Blame cars (and for-hire vehicles, and the abundance
of deliveries being made throughout the city). In her introduction
to
the report
, DOT Commissioner Polly Trottenberg writes:

Our roadways are more congested than ever. The number of cars
entering Manhattan’s central business district continued to drop,
but empty for-hire vehicles (FHVs) circling the area brought no
relief from congestion. Meanwhile, vehicle registrations Citywide
have increased, while freight traffic and home deliveries also
continued to rise.

Indeed, there were nearly 316 trips taken using taxis or
for-hire vehicles in 2018, a 90 percent increase over the number
taken in 2010. Meanwhile, close to 45 percent of New Yorkers get a
delivery at home once per week, which not only affects how many
trucks are on city streets, but how vehicles can get around. (How
many times have you been on a bus that has to maneuver around a
FreshDirect or UPS van?)

The city is putting measures into place that may combat these
problems;
congestion pricing
, which will be implemented in the CBD, is
the biggie, but a “cruising cap” on for-hire vehicles is also
expected to help. Still, the trends are “unsustainable,”
Trottenberg notes in her intro. (One way to not sit in traffic
hell? Take a bike: According to
the report
, a Citi Bike across town is a minute faster than
taking a taxi or Uber.)

One good thing: New Yorkers seem to be walking more. The survey
found that walking is the transportation mode of choice for 30.7
percent of city dwellers; that’s slightly above cars, which are
the preferred mode for 30.2 percent of New Yorkers. The subway
comes in third, with 20.5 percent using it as their main mode, and
buses are at 11.5 percent. On the opposite end of the chart,
“other” transportation mode accounted for 3.2 percent, for-hire
vehicle 2.5 percent, bike 1.1 percent, ferry 0.2 percent, and
commuter rail 0.1 percent.

The areas with the highest percentage of sustainable trips
(either walking, biking, or transit) are in the Manhattan CBD at 85
percent and Northern Manhattan at 81 percent.

In terms of the neighborhoods that walk the most, the Manhattan
CBD leads the way, with 50 percent of those trips, followed by
areas in Inner Brooklyn at 45 percent. Areas with the least walking
trips are outer Queens, with 18 percent, and Staten Island, with 10
percent—no surprise, considering these areas are also transit
deserts.

The
report
also looks at newer modes of transit, including the NYC
Ferry system and Citi Bike. The number of trips is up for both,
although there’s a large gap in the numbers of people who take
ferry or cycling trips. There are 127,000 daily ferry riders
(inclusive of NYC Ferry and other systems), and 490,000 cycling
trips taken daily.

Source: FS – All – Real Estate News 1
New York City’s streets are ‘more congested than ever’: report