What $13 Billion Looks Like


With the above chart and these comments in mind, here’s some food for thought from the PlaNYC Transportation chapter:

  • Only 4.6% of working New Yorkers commute to Manhattan by car.
  • The vast majority of trips made in New York are not to Manhattan; even among commuters, nearly twice as many outer borough residents work outside of Manhattan as inside — 1.56 million versus 841,000.
  • Cars and trucks contribute 20% of the City’s global warming emissions and a large part of the ozone — a serious pollutant that can cause respiratory illnesses like asthma — in our air.
  • New York City has the highest bus ridership in the United States, but the slowest buses. As the city grows and vehicles compete for the same road, buses operate at even slower speeds. Between 2002-06 alone, bus speeds across the city slowed by 4%.
  • Over the last 30 years, even significant improvements in our subway system have not substantially changed the way New Yorkers get to Manhattan. Despite enhancements in safety, efficiency, and aesthetics, the percentage of drivers has remained essentially unchanged.
  • t

    That 4.6% figure is amazing. So small! Any idea where most of those working New Yorkers commuting to Manhattan by car are commuting from? That’s the kind of figure that would shoot down a lot of the politicians who claim that their constituents are overwhelmingly against congestion pricing.

  • P

    t- Take a look here:

    There might be an phenomenon similar to working people who advocate tax cuts for the rich: one day they’ll take advantage of that unfairness!

  • So let’s do a quick back of the envelope calculation:

    Let’s assume 5 million commuters since I don’t have that number in front of me, that would mean that 230,000 (4.6% of the total) NYC residents

    Let’s say NYC residents are half of the cause of congestion and suburbanites are the other half – $6.5 billion a piece.

    That means 230,000 are costing the rest of the city $28,260 a year in extra economic costs. If you assume 260 wroking days a year, then the more appropriate cost would be something more like $110/day. $8 seems like a bargain.

    If someone has better assumptions to plug into the little model I created, please let me know.

    The appropriate economic calculation should figure out the marginal costs and benefits to society of allowing auto commuters. The marginal costs of a few hundred thousand extra motorists seems fairly high and the marginal benefit seems to only accumulate to their own private comfort and convenience, not the rest of the public.

  • Dan

    Can someone do the math on the average cost of car ownership in the city. Parking + Insurance + Car Payments + Gas + Maintenance = ?

    I don’t even know HOW to drive so I’m at a loss, but Imagining that people drive 10-15 Miles to work(I think this is very conservative but lets talk NYC). That’s at least a gallon of gas per direction at $3.00 that’s about $6.00 per day just in fuel costs. Assuming an annual insurance cost of $2000(I got this from a money magazine article) that’s about $5.50 per day. So that’s $11.50 per day without factoring parking or general auto maintenance. IF you find a super cheap lot and pay around $300 per month in parking that’s another .82 cents per day. Bringing the total above $12.00 for a short commute with parking. I can barely afford to pay $4 per day for my metrocard(less cause it’s a 30 day card). Those poor bastards can’t afford to pay another dime.

  • Angus Grieve-Smith

    $28,260 a year, Glenn? That’s an amazing number. It’d be cheaper just to buy them all cars … oh wait.

    I’d like to see the cost per taxpayer of all that congestion.

  • What this charts misses is the health cost
    pedestrain safety alone would be a $ 1 billion annually.

    the asthma and lung diseases costs woudl be staggering and it politically sells much better than these numbers

    we need your help in developping those rapidly

  • crzwdjk

    Dan: your math is off. It’s $300 per month, not per year. If you divide $300 by the average 23 working days per month, you get $13 per day. This makes the total cost of fuel and parking $19 per day. A monthly commuter rail pass plus Metrocard is cheaper than this, pretty much for anywhere that commuter rail goes.


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