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Commute Times in Weiner Land Lag as Bus Ridership Booms

commute1.jpgAverage commute times, in minutes, according to the US Census Bureau

A study hitting the papers this week says the middle class is fleeing New York City, in part because of long commute times faced by residents of boroughs outside Manhattan.

The study, from the Manhattan-based Center for an Urban Future, examines a number of factors that are driving away the city's middle class. Many New Yorkers, for example, endure commutes that are among the longest in the US. Like commuters from St. Albans, Queens, who spend 51.7 minutes during an average trip to work -- nearly twice the national average of 25.5 minutes. (See page 28 of this PDF.)

Meanwhile, more and more "outer borough" New Yorkers are relying on the bus.

Between 1998 and 2006, 81 percent of the increase in bus ridership across the city occurred outside of Manhattan. The number of people in Manhattan riding city buses rose by 11 percent, but this was far less than the increase in Queens (24 percent), Staten Island (23 percent), Brooklyn (22 percent) and the Bronx (18 percent).

This should be a wake-up call to electeds, including mayoral aspirant Bill Thompson, who continue to dismiss viable transit-funding proposals like congestion pricing and bridge tolls, which will also clear traffic and speed commutes. While pandering to the motoring minority makes for sure-fire headlines, the Ravitch plan, now set to be voted up or down by state lawmakers in the coming weeks, would boost bus service even before proposed tolls on East and Harlem River bridges take effect. This is exactly what working class New Yorkers need.

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