Our transportation network is the lifeblood of the city’s neighborhoods and our economy. Every day the city’s public-transit system enables millions of New Yorkers to get to work and school, access services and shopping, and enjoy the life of the city. Throughout its history, New York City’s economic growth has been supported by investment in its transit system. Despite the importance of the transit network, the first phase of the Second Avenue Subway—scheduled to open in late 2016—will be the first major capacity expansion of the system since the late 1930s.
Today, a growing number of subway lines, such as the 4/5/6, are at capacity during peak periods. Transit hubs serving the region, such as Penn Station (Amtrak/NJT/LIRR) and the Port
Authority Bus Terminal (PABT), are also strained. These capacity issues are not limited to Manhattan and traditional Central Business Districts. Growth throughout the five boroughs, both to dispersed centers of employment and communities experiencing commercial and residential growth, like DUMBO, Williamsburg, and Long Island City, is creating new challenges, a telling sign of the need for better service and connections to emerging job clusters throughout the city.
Reliable and convenient transit access to employment and other activities remains stubbornly out of reach for too many New Yorkers. This problem is particularly acute for low- and moderate-income residents in areas poorly served by the subway or buses. For seniors and those with disabilities, this can affect their ability to simply get groceries, or see family and friends.
For New Yorkers who are active, biking offers a convenient travel option for work and other trips. As biking creates no carbon emissions, it also supports the City’s sustainability goals. New York City’s Commuter Cycling Indicator, an indicator developed by the Department of Transportation that makes use of the most robust data available to estimate levels of cycling within the central areas of the city over time, has almost quadrupled since 2000. This growth has been facilitated by a dramatic expansion in the City’s bike network to 980 lane miles. However, many neighborhoods outside Manhattan and inner Brooklyn and Queens still lack significant bike infrastructure.
New York’s three main airports—JFK, LaGuardia, and Newark Liberty—consistently rank as the most delay-prone in the nation. During peak hours, the Federal Aviation Administration caps take-offs and landings in an effort to control delays. Adding to this challenge, forecasts show demand at these airports increasing from about 117 million passengers today to 150 million by 2030.
New York City’s freight system also faces significant challenges. Although New York City’s port and rail connections fueled the city’s rise in the 19th and 20th centuries, almost all of the nearly 400 million tons of cargo that enters, leaves, or passes through the city every year are now transported by truck. This creates a host of challenges, from air quality to costs for businesses, to security and resiliency, to quality of life concerns for residents.
And those trucks put a tremendous amount of wear and tear on the City’s roads, which are used by millions of vehicles each day.
Our streets, bridges, and highways are among the oldest in the country and are in need of near constant repair and rehabilitation. A sustained commitment to maintaining our road network is essential to supporting the movement of people and good across the five boroughs.