Delivering the Goods to a Growing New York


In June, NYU’s Wagner Rudin Center of Transportation Policy & Management teamed up with the New York Metropolitan Transportation Council to host an event focused on current and future freight needs in the New York metro region. Their report cited increased consumption and congestion as serious challenges to moving goods in and around the city:

Since 1980, New York City’s population has increased by 14%, to just over 8 million people in 2000. Now, the city is expected to grow by another million people by 2030. This means more demand for freight in the future. In 1998, commodity flow in the NYMTC region totaled 333 million tons. Foods accounted for 47 million tons; clothing accounted for 2.8 million tons; and 70 million tons of gasoline was delivered. As the population of the New York metropolitan area swells, the expected impact on freight needs will be astounding. NYMTC’s Regional Transportation Plan (RTP) estimates that the 31-county tri-state population will grow to 26 million, or 1.5 million more households, by 2030. At the same time, NYMTC’s Regional Freight Plan (RFP) estimates the annual commodity flow in the region will grow to a staggering 490 million tons by the year 2025 – an almost 50% increase in freight tonnage. All of this freight will be moved on the region’s currently over-burdened transportation system.

In the Keynote address, the Commissioner of the New York State Dept. of Transportation stated there is no room to build new roads downstate. While trucks will most likely remain the dominant mode of transporting freight, several different modes will become increasingly necessary to meet future demand:

Commissioner Glynn emphasized that we need to be better prepared for the needs of today and for the future by diversifying the investment to achieve modal balance in goods movement and mitigate congestion on our transportation network. To do this, increased rail access and modal share are important, but will not be a panacea for region’s freight challenges. It will be a notable feat for freight rail to attain a desirable 10% market share of the long distance commodity flow for the East-of-Hudson market. To accomplish such an increase, we will need a long-term commitment and the cooperation of the region’s many transportation agencies and stakeholders.

You can read the entire report here.

  • mike

    We could also buy less stuff, but of course no political “leader” would really suggest that.

  • The “truck problem” really dampens the cities reputation for being green. Think of the carbon it adds to every purchase you make!

    Mike, “buying less stuff” would be UNAMERICAN!

  • t

    Putnam and Rockland Counties have more goods brought in by trucks than most of the five boroughs, so cities can still lay claim to being more green than the suburbs.

    In the ‘burbs, the stuff is trucked in to grocery stores which people have to drive to and from in order to get food and supplies. In the city, we can walk to get the same things, lessening the carbon footprint of those goods by just a little.

    Imagine places such as Las Vegas or Phoenix where just about everything arrives via plane, train, or truck.

  • Spud Spudly

    What’s up with Staten Island? Surrounded by water and yet the map shows them getting virtually all of their goods by truck.

  • Greg Raisman

    check out this wacky freight idea from Amsterdam:

  • Dan Icolari

    Spud, there’s actually been a decrease in truck traffic and an increase in the use of freight rail on Staten Island, a development that’s been reported only very recently (and probably only, or mostly, in the Staten Island Advance).

    That decrease is attributable to the repair and reuse of a rail bridge on the West Shore over the Arthur Kill. I forget the estimate given for the number of trucks eliminated from S.I. Expressway and Goethals Bridge traffic, but it was substantial.

  • Angus Grieve-Smith

    NYMTC’s Regional Freight Plan (RFP) estimates the annual commodity flow in the region will grow to a staggering 490 million tons by the year 2025 – an almost 50% increase in freight tonnage.

    You know, it’s not like these things are unaffected by government actions. Maybe the commodity flow would increase, but would it increase that much if the government didn’t subsidize motor freight?

    It might be handy if we could actually get the tunnel built by saying “ZOMG! The sky is falling! If we don’t build the Cross-Harbor rail freight tunnel TOMORROW then EVERY STREET in the city will be clogged with trucks and nobody will be able to moooove!,” but it would be really dishonest. I don’t think that does anyone any favors.


Urban Density and a Pocketbook Plea for Congestion Pricing

Of the ten largest cities in the United States, New York has far and away the greatest population density: 26,402.9 people per square mile, more than double the second densest big city, Chicago. The chart at right shows how the largest metropolitan areas stack up in terms of core population, overall population and core population density.  […]