Stuck in the Middle: When Transit-Dependent Communities Lack Good Transit

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NYC neighhorhoods with low household incomes and high unemployment lack the excellent transit access to jobs available in the city’s most affluent areas. Chart: NYU Rudin Center

New Yorkers who live close to the center of town are mostly affluent and have great transit options connecting them to a wealth of job opportunities. On the edges of town, people are not quite as well-off, and most can get to work by driving their own cars. In between are the least affluent neighborhoods, where New Yorkers rely on transit but the number of jobs accessible by train or bus is much smaller than in the city core.

A new report from New York University’s Rudin Center for Transportation [PDF] identifies this middle band of neighborhoods as the area where transit improvements can do the most to connect more people to more jobs.

The study ranked the city’s 177 zip codes by the number of jobs accessible by a transit trip lasting 60 minutes or less at 9 a.m. on a weekday. Grouping the neighborhoods into three tiers of transit access, the authors then at income and commute data for each tier.

The top third of transit-accessible neighborhoods have high incomes, and 79 percent of commuters travel by foot or transit. Not surprisingly, the highest-ranked neighborhoods are in or near major employment centers in Manhattan. In the top 59 neighborhoods, the unemployment rate is 8.3 percent and average household income is $108,209.

Things look different in the city’s least transit-accessible neighborhoods, where 53 percent of residents drive to work. These areas, mostly beyond the reach of the subway, include neighborhoods as diverse as the low-income southern reaches of East New York and the wealthy south shore of Staten Island. Combining this mix of demographics, the unemployment rate in these neighborhoods averages 9.7 percent and the average household income is $61,381.

Then there’s the middle third of neighborhoods, where people are heavily dependent on transit but access to jobs via train or bus is mediocre. In this band of New York, 67 percent of workers commute by transit, the unemployment rate, at 11.7 percent, is higher than the rest of the city, and average income is lower, at $46,773.

It’s exactly these commuters, who live just beyond the reach of convenient transit but lack the resources to own a private car, who could benefit most from improvements to the city’s transit network.

The Rudin Center report echoes research from the Pratt Center for Community Development, which found that more than 758,000 city residents, concentrated in the outer boroughs, commute at least an hour each way to work. Two-thirds of those workers live in households earning less than $35,000 a year.

Among its recommendations, the Rudin Center suggests expanding the weekend CityTicket program to include off-peak weekday service on Metro-North and Long Island Rail Road. This would lower fares for many outer-borough commuters and could be the first step to integrating commuter rail with the rest of the transit network.

The report also champions “smart shuttles” that offer flexible service based on demand concentrated in specific neighborhoods, as well as informal private transit like dollar vans and senior shuttles.

For larger-scale transportation fixes in transit-starved parts of the city, the report focuses on Bus Rapid Transit, which it calls “essential” to expanding transit options. Dedicated lanes, proof-of-payment, and traffic signal priority are needed most urgently on Woodhaven Boulevard and Flatlands Avenue, the report says, pointing to the Pratt Center’s work identifying eight routes for BRT in the outer boroughs.

Transit advocates cited the Rudin Center findings to make the case for major expansion of Bus Rapid Transit.

“Bus Rapid Transit is a social justice issue for New York City,” said Riders Alliance Executive Director John Raskin, “…especially in neighborhoods that are not on subway lines and where people have to commute the farthest to get to work.”

“Too many New Yorkers live in transit-starved areas with minimal access to public transportation, and as a result, face significant job inequity,” said the BRT for NYC coalition, a group of labor unions, advocates, and business associations supporting Bus Rapid Transit. “More city and state funds supporting the MTA’s five year capital plan will ensure projects like BRT improve access to jobs and housing for millions of NYC residents.”

The coalition has already lined up a united front of support for BRT from council members along Woodhaven and Cross Bay Boulevards. Yesterday, Assembly Member Nily Rozic penned a piece in the Daily News with Asian Americans for Equality Executive Director Christopher Kui backing BRT in eastern Queens, including between Flushing and Jamaica.

By the end of Mayor de Blasio’s first term, the administration has committed to launching 13 new Select Bus Service routes (the brand for enhanced bus routes in NYC — most of which don’t quite meet the threshold to be considered true BRT). While NYC DOT has shown solid concepts for SBS on Woodhaven and planning is underway for a route connecting Jamaica to Flushing, the administration cut the ribbon on just one SBS route, the M60, during its first year.

  • Kevin Love

    I wonder how it would work out if, instead of 60 minutes by public transit, the same analysis was done for within 60 minutes of cycling using protected cycle routes.

    Of course, since such routes are non-existent in much of the study area…

  • Reader

    Even in the most bicycle-friendly cities in the world few people commute one hour by bicycle. Not that some hearty souls don’t do it all the time, but they’re in the minority. Even in your most Amsterdam-inspired NYC fantasies, you’re just not going to see a huge number of people biking from, say, Bay Ridge to Midtown Manhattan on a regular basis.

    A distance of about 6 km or under 4 miles is generally considered the maximum for regular bike commuting in most studies I’ve seen. That’s about 30 – 35 minutes at a relaxed pace on good infrastructure. For anything beyond that most people take transit. Of course, bike-friendly cities are often transit-friendly cities, so people can bike to a train station with relative ease. And that obviously requires good, localized bike infrastructure.

    Be careful what you wish for. If a study were to ask New Yorkers how often they’d ride 60 minutes to work if there were safe bike routes, I still think you’d barely crack 1 or 2% saying they’d do it.

  • Joe R.

    The number I usually hear is 30 minutes. Lots of people will consider riding a bike to their destination if they can reach it in 30 minutes or less. The key here is to increase the distance they can cover in that 30 minutes with infrastructure where they can get up to speed, then stay there, not dog-slow protected lanes on surface streets where you typically average only 6 or 8 mph. A secondary goal might be to foster bike design which allows people to go faster for any given amount of physical effort. If we do these two things in tandem, then we can increase that 30 minute radius to 10 miles or more. This covers quite a large part of the population in NYC where trips on mass transit are often 5 to 15 miles.

    Another interesting fact is if you make riding faster/more pleasant, then you might actually get more people who will consider it even if it takes longer than 30 minutes. You probably won’t get many people who will ride 60 minutes, but you’ll get lots of people willing to ride 35 or 40 minutes. Remember with a state-of-art velomobile on mostly non-stop facilities a rider of average ability can achieve at least 20 mph average speeds. In 40 minutes that rider can cover 13.3 miles. This covers the radius of nearly all mass transit trips.

  • Anne A

    Here in Chicago, the number of us who do bike commutes of an hour or more is relatively small. I aim to do my 1:15 bike commute (14 miles) inbound on one day of the week (storing my bike in our building’s bike room) and the return trip on a different day. For comparison, my regular transit/walking commute is about 50 minutes one way.

  • Bolwerk

    Transit advocates that ignore the need for subway expansion seriously aren’t very good at advocating for transit. At least defend the technically and financially, if not always politically, easy stuff. Projects like Triborough RX, and probably even Rockaway reactivation, would offer significantly more range for job accessibility than any plausible NYC BRT project. Probably at a lower cost per rider too.

  • Bolwerk

    Variability is probably horrible. How many people would want to bike 30m to work today?

  • Bolwerk

    s/variability/variance

  • Alex

    Nostrand Ave extension, too.

  • Building up bicycle infrastructure is all fun and cool, but what percentage of people are going to be out riding their bikes in a snowstorm, or better yet, in the dead of winter in the first place? We’re better off spending our limited resources on transportation that people can use year round at this point in time.

  • Joe R.

    NYC has needed subway expansion for decades, particularly in much of Queens and Brooklyn. No politician thus far has been brave enough to propose a serious plan for getting this done in a reasonable time frame (say ten years or less). Motor traffic in much of the outer boroughs would be drastically reduced if most places were within a mile or less of a subway station.

  • Joe R.

    Hey, I’m going to go for a nice 30 mile bike ride tonight! Just joking of course, but keep in mind normal NYC winter temperatures in the high 30s to low 40s are tolerable for riding for many people once they’re used to it. Days like today are extremes. I’d say maybe 200 to 250 days of the year are conducive to bike riding, more if you don’t mind riding in the rain.

    Along with my idea of bike viaducts which could provide shelter from winds/rain/snow I’ve also had the crazy idea of bike tunnels. Those could make riding 365 days a year possible. Ten feet below ground the temperature is between 50 and 75 year round.

  • Bolwerk

    Politicians don’t use the services. They drive, and traffic problems are king. It’s the availability heuristic in action.

  • Larry Littlefield

    I came up with a solution 20 years ago — dynamic carpooling. For trips to Manhattan, the shared trip could end at the subway or train.

    Here is a post I just wrote about my proposal, and why Uber’s latest service is close but no cigar.

    http://larrylittlefield.wordpress.com/2015/01/05/uber-uber-alles/

    The big mobility issues are in auto dependent suburbs, particularly in less rich metros in the middle of the country. These areas are increasingly less well off.

    http://larrylittlefield.wordpress.com/2014/12/27/falling-wages-its-not-just-the-millennials-and-its-not-just-the-business-cycle/

    Yet it is where most people will have to live, people who can’t afford one car per adult. For trips beyond biking distance, what do you do? Paratransit? We know what THAT costs.

  • I’d say maybe 200 to 250 days of the year are conducive to bike riding

    Yeah, and about 364-365 are conducive to riding public transportation. If we already had a fully built out, well-functioning, in a state of good repair public transportation system (we don’t in NYC), then I think it would be fine to splurge on some upgraded bicycle infrastructure, but for now, the money is better spent elsewhere.

  • Kevin Love

    Where there is proper infrastructure, there is a high winter cycling mode share. Today’s temperatures are rather mild for Oulu, Finland. They have a high cycle mode share when it is much colder.

    Why? One word: Infrastructure. That makes 365 days of the year conducive to cycling. See:

  • Kevin Love

    Very true. But the article referred to 60 minutes by public transit. I’m just making the same comparison.

  • Kevin Love

    Normal planning speed for cycle traffic is 20 km/hr in urban areas.

    See:

    http://www.copenhagenize.com/2014/08/the-green-waves-of-copenhagen.html

    One can go a bit faster with proper infrastructure. See:

    http://www.aviewfromthecyclepath.com/2009/11/commuting-speeds.html

  • Kevin Love

    I would imagine that the number of people who commute by public transit for an hour or more is also relatively small. Yet that was the benchmark used by the article.

    I just took the same time.

  • ahwr

    Then you would imagine wrong. According to 09-13 ACS among nyc residents who commute by transit, 34.3% have a commute of 60 minutes or more. 20.1% have a commute of 45-60 minutes. Mean travel time among transit commuters is 47.4 minutes.

  • ahwr

    Unless you eliminate stopping or slowing down, even for any cyclist who has to turn, then the cruising speed != travel speed.

  • Kevin Love

    Which is why good urban cycling infrastructure ensures that cyclists rarely or never have to stop or slow down. For example, good practice is to eliminate traffic lights for cyclists. See:

    http://www.aviewfromthecyclepath.com/search/label/dodging%20traffic%20lights

  • Kevin Love

    Which only goes to show that people are willing to spend a fair amount of time commuting. With supportive infra, that time can be spent cycle commuting.

    An excerpt from:

    http://www.aviewfromthecyclepath.com/2011/12/are-your-travel-distances-and-times-too.html

    “One of the other common myths about The Netherlands is that all Dutch bicycle journeys are short. This is far from the truth. As in most countries, people are more likely to choose a bicycle for a short journey than for a long journey. Figures show that a remarkable 34% of all journeys made in the entire country over a distance of under 7.5 km (5 miles) are made by bicycle. However, the figures also tell that 15% of journeys over a distance between 7.5 km and 15 km (9 miles) are by bicycle and that 2% of all journeys over 15 km are by bicycle. Now 2% isn’t much, but even selecting just these longer journeys, cycling has a higher share than many countries do of all their journeys by bike. The Dutch cycle longer distances far more frequently than do people of other nations.”

  • Sorry, I was too distracted by the median incomes reported to cent.

  • ahwr

    So even with good infrastructure for cycling only a tiny share of long trips are made by bike.

  • Twofooted

    Sitting for an hour is rather different than pedaling for an hour. Apples to oranges.

  • Jonathan R

    I think you would get the same results because from nearly all neighborhoods, subways are faster than bicycle to job centers (midtown & downtown Manhattan, downtown Brooklyn).

  • Childish Callow Gleam

    I would bike 30 meters to work any day.

  • Joe R.

    That’s true but what better way to solve traffic problems than to get all the masses who drive into trains? For selfish reasons alone it would make sense for politicians who drive to support mass transit expansion.

  • Joe R.

    Subways are about the only form of public transit available 365 days a year. Els can be slow or out of service during inclement weather. There are probably at least 30 days of the year when buses run slow or not at all due to things like snow or heavy rain.

    Another factor to consider regarding “availability” is affordability. Mass transit is available 0 days per year to someone who cannot afford the fare. At present fares mass transit isn’t affordable to some segment of the population. That’s one reason why bike infrastructure of the type I proposed makes sense. You can buy a decent bike for way less than one year’s worth of subway fare, then use it daily and spend probably under $100 annually in maintenance. That makes bikes more available than mass transit to the poorer segment of the population. We can have the greatest mass transit system in the world but for what it might cost to build fares would have to be $5 or more. That makes it unaffordable to probably a third to half of potential users. Someone making $10 an hour or less can’t afford $50 a week to get to work. On the other hand, world class bike infrastructure serving the entire city can probably be built for less than what a few miles of subway might cost.

    I’m a big fan of rail and subways but the fact is for whatever reason the costs of building/running them have greatly outpaced inflation. Unless we get that back under control, they’re no longer a serious option in cities given that the necessary fares would only be affordable by the upper middle class or richer. Bikes are probably the new “transit for the masses”. We just need infrastructure so they’re a safe and very fast way to get around.

  • Joe R.

    Any serious bike infrastructure should negate the need for stopping or slowing. It should also allow riders to set their own pace, whether it’s 8 mph or 25 mph (.i.e. there should be room for safe passing).

  • Joe R.

    Anecdotally, I think the average cycling speed on this side of the pond is closer to 25 km/hr, mostly because more people here use racing style bikes rather than heavy upright bikes. I’m not really a fan of green waves, preferring instead to get rid of traffic signals altogether, but if we must have them on certain streets I think 25 km/hr is a good compromise. It doesn’t slow down fast riders by all that much, and it’s a speed which most average riders can maintain, albeit perhaps with slightly more effort than they usually exert.

  • Still, the amount of people who could be reasonably accommodated by public transportation, the amount of people who would want to use public transportation, and how frequently those people would be able to use public transportation is still orders of magnitude more than the amount of people who could bike to work. Between the fact that people won’t want to bike each day of the year, and people can only pedal so far before keeling over (i.e. old people, people who commute great (or even medium) distances), you would still be spending a lot of money that would only benefit a tiny fraction of the commuting population on certain days of the year.

    100% subsidized personal limousine service would be the best thing to accommodate people from all commuting and financial areas, but that would also be ridiculously expensive. So long as resources are limited, it’s best to spend them in a way that benefits the most people.

  • Joe R.

    Did you actually read my entire post? The issue here is that mass transit has gotten hideously expensive, far outpacing inflation. This is why despite the fact that everyone can’t bike, a $1 spent on bike infrastructure benefits more people than $1 spent on mass transit. A few billion gets you a couple of miles of subway these days in NYC which might serve a few tens of thousands of riders per day. That same few billion gets you a citiwide bike network which could serve a lot more riders on average. Sure, on some days like today the network might serve under 10,000 riders. On nice days it might serve a million. The average will be more than the average number of people served per dollar than spending the money on mass transit.

    Get mass transit costs down by an order of magnitude, like they still are in some parts of the world, and what you say will start to make sense.

  • ahwr

    Mass transit doesn’t have to be rail mass transit. That same few billion could rollout SBS features on every major bus route citywide. They cost $10-20 mil generally.

    With good infrastructure bikes can be a feasible option for most people for short trips. Once you get past five miles that is no longer the case.

    The two generally serve different trips. Sure there’s the 20 something office worker who has a shower available who doesn’t mind biking ten miles each way in nice weather. But that doesn’t scale.

  • ahwr

    If you are designing infrastructure for current cyclists you won’t have much money available, and won’t be able to take much road space. Because there are so few current cyclists. If you build for future cyclists who currently drive or take the bus then you can have more money available, and can take more road space. But then your green wave won’t be 25 km/hr, it’ll be 20.

  • Joe R.

    Quite a few trips in NYC by mass transit are indeed under 5 miles. Also, we should use time as a criteria here, not distance. Usually 30 minutes is the cutoff where people will stop considering biking in favor of other modes. If we increase average riding speed by negating the need to stop, that 30 minute radius increases to about 6-7 miles for an average rider, perhaps as much as 10 miles for a fast one. That’s a lot of trips in NYC.

    The fallacy with SBS over rail is that you’re trading lower infrastructure costs for higher operating costs per passenger. On low volume routes this is fine but SBS doesn’t scale up well. Many bus routes in Queens and Brooklyn are already carrying enough passengers to justify rail but we just don’t want to spend the money to build it. We’re trading that for higher operating costs carried infinitely far into the future.

  • Joe R.

    Remember one thing though-people get stronger as they ride regularly. Those 20 km/hr riders will be up to 25 km/hr or better within a year. Sure, until they get stronger, a 25 km/hr green wave may not be optimal for them, but also consider new riders generally care far less about speed than regulars. To them just being on a bike is a novelty.

    In any population you’re always going to have a mix of new riders and seasoned riders. Once cycling is established as a legitimate mode of transportation, the vast majority will be seasoned riders, so those are who it makes sense to cater to.

    Ideally of course, there should be no need to think about speed on good bicycle infrastructure. Riders should be able to set their own pace. A green wave is just a compromise in places where for whatever reason you can’t get rid of traffic signals altogether.

  • ahwr

    No they won’t want to ride faster, or won’t be able to. That’s why the average cycling speed in cities with good enough infrastructure to attract lots of cyclists is low.

  • Joe R.

    Most of my reading on green waves indicates they’re used in very specific situations-namely a very high volume of cyclists going through a short section of a city where for whatever reason it wasn’t feasible to remove traffic signals. And generally these sections are a mile or less, so the time penalty for 20 km/hr versus 25 km/hr is typically a minute or less.

    Green waves really would not be all that applicable in a place like NYC. For one thing, I don’t think we have comparable volumes on any bike route compared to places like Copenhagen. For another, green waves here would by necessity go on for miles because the dense parts of the city go on for miles. It’s not Copenhagen where you’re through “downtown” in 1 or 2 km. As such, any number you pick for the green wave will adversely impact a significant number of cyclists on one end of the spectrum or another, making the concept very unpopular. The best solution here is to just engineer bike routes to avoid traffic signals altogether, which is actually what the Dutch do on most of their infrastructure. I personally don’t understand why we in America ignore that while harping on things like green waves.

    By the way, it’s basic human physiology to get stronger at something by using the same muscles. Cycling is no different. I’ve known many riders who were painfully slow to ride with when they started. They all got faster, a lot faster. That includes me. When I first started riding as a teenager, I was lucky to average 10 or 11 mph. Within a year or two I was averaging 14 or 15 mph easily, with the same amount of apparent effort.

  • ahwr

    NYC residents who commute by public transit: 84.3% have a trip longer than 30 minutes. In the netherlands 34% of trips less than 7.5km are by bike. Trips 7.5-15km it drops to 15%. Where in the world is biking 7 miles each way a popular option?

    https://web.archive.org/web/20101125234738/http://mta.info/mta/news/books/pdf/100125_1034_service2010-bus.pdf

    High ridership bus routes don’t cost that much per rider. Say you spend 50k capital per weekday rider to put in rail. (SAS1 ~ 27, ESA ~ 70, SAS2 costs who knows how much, if the same as SAS1 then ~55) You’re not cutting costs exclusive of that outlay by two dollars per trip on a lot of those high ridership routes. Even if you could get two dollars a day, figure sat+sun = one weekday, you need 85 years to break even. Rail might be faster and better for passengers, but unless they pay extra buses are often cheaper.

  • Joe R.

    That 15% number actually shows it’s a popular option. Even in a place like the Netherlands, I wouldn’t expect much more than that, not when there are other options like a decent rail system. If we got to 10% or 15% mode share for bike trips of 7.5 to 15 km in NYC that would be HUGE. Remember the same infrastructure serving those longer trips also serves many more shorter ones. That’s really what I think is key here. Nobody in the Netherlands said, hey, let’s try to increase bike mode share for long trips. They built for shorter trips, but once you build enough infrastructure for those shorter trips, it becomes useful for longer trips as well. It’s not an either/or proposition. Build a comprehensive system mostly designed for 5 miles or less. You’ll still get some significant number using it for longer trips, perhaps enough to give us some breathing room on mass transit.

    Rail might be faster and better for passengers, but unless they pay extra buses are often cheaper.

    In a word, buses suck. That’s the general perception and why we should focus mainly on rail unless you’re talking routes with low ridership. Many of the same people who won’t set foot on a bus will gladly ride a train. And as you said, trains are faster and better for passengers, especially in terms of ride comfort. I can’t read on a bus if my life depended on it, but no problem on a train. The right especially has been pushing “bustitution” for years but it largely hasn’t worked out all that well. People will get out of their cars if you offer them rail, but will rarely do the same with buses.

    NYC residents who commute by public transit: 84.3% have a trip longer than 30 minutes.

    That’s more a product of the general slowness of NYC’s mass transit system than of distance. Case in point-I went to Manhattan a few days ago. The trip is about 11 miles. It took over an hour getting in. Coming back the train ran great, and I made the connection to the bus perfectly. In short, this was as good as it ever gets but the trip still took me 47 minutes, or ~14 mph average speed door-to-door. This is why I feel bikes can garner a high mode share here-even for longer trips. Our mass transit system is so horribly slow often an average cyclist can beat it most of the time if we removed the need to stop or slow down. I’ll grant given the weather that I certainly wouldn’t have biked to Manhattan this week even if we had great infrastructure (and safe bike parking options), but I would certainly do so 9 times out of 10 over taking mass transit. Besides saving $5, I would most likely save time.

    Now if we had a world class mass transit system where you could reasonably expect to make a 10 mile trip in 25 to 35 minutes I might feel differently. The only time getting around NYC on mass transit is fast is if your origin and destination are near a subway stop AND you don’t need to change trains. Add in a few connections, or worse a bus ride to the subway, and things get miserably slow, as in single digits slow. Cycling can offer a great alternative to this mess, at a very reasonable cost.

  • Andrew

    Subways are about the only form of public transit available 365 days a year. Els can be slow or out of service during inclement weather.

    Traditional NYC (or Chicago) elevated trackage is open, and the snow falls right through. Trains on elevated lines have no problems running in snow. It’s the outdoor lines that run on solid ground, where snow can build up, that are vulnerable, but they probably make up less than 10% of the subway’s track mileage (and far less than 10% of the subway’s ridership).

    There are probably at least 30 days of the year when buses run slow or not at all due to things like snow.

    Buses always run slow. A few days per year, during major snowstorms, some bus lines don’t run or are cut short or rerouted. The snow is almost always cleared along bus lines within a day. Nowhere close to 30 days per year does weather cause major bus outages.

  • Andrew

    Another factor to consider regarding “availability” is affordability. Mass transit is available 0 days per year to someone who cannot afford the fare.

    To the tiny fraction of city residents who truly cannot afford $112 per month for regular rides or $2.38 per ride for occasional rides, provide need-based aid. Problem solved.

  • Joe R.

    It’s more than a tiny fraction. If we go by the old formula that carfare should be no more than 5% of take home pay then $112 per month means you need $2240 per month take-home pay, or maybe about $2800 per month before taxes. That’s $33,600 per year. More than a third of people fall below that. See here ( http://comptroller.nyc.gov/wp-content/uploads/documents/NYC_IncomeInequality_v17.pdf ).

    I vividly recall back when I was making $7 an hour in the late 1980s. I live in what was then a double fare zone. I couldn’t afford to pay an extra fare for the bus to the subway, so I walked 2.7 miles each way nearly all the time. The exceptions were the rare weeks I had overtime. Even just paying for the subway was a hardship on that income.

    Remember in NYC housing often uses up way more than the 25% of take-home pay which financial planners say it should. That leaves precious little for anything else, including carfare.

    Need-based aid is certainly a good idea, but you’ll be giving that aid to probably upwards of 1/3 of NYC residents, not a tiny fraction.

  • Bolwerk

    NYC really only has a few days a year where weather can bollocks
    transit. Floods are probably a bigger threat to mass transit than snow,
    and that’s especially true of the long-term future.

  • ahwr

    BLS says households with 20-30k pre tax income spend $5924 (mean) annually on transportation. Two metrocards and other occasional trips on LIRR/MNR or taxis come to much less than that.

  • Bolwerk

    I doubt it’s that tiny. But either way political will to create new social services benefits is probably damn close to nil.

  • Bolwerk

    Every bus citywide should have as many SBS features as possible, but that cost comparison is silly. It completely ignores later operating costs and vehicle capacity constraints.

  • Joe R.

    People also spend way more than 25% of their take-home on housing in this city. That doesn’t mean it isn’t a hardship, and they’re not sacrificing something else, most likely saving, to pay that much annually for carfare. The 5% number is something I heard way back. The other numbers were 25% for rent, 25% for food, 25% for savings, and 20% for miscellaneous like clothing or entertainment.

  • ahwr

    Numbers like that aren’t universally applicable. You’d be better off grouping some of them, say ~50% for housing+groceries+transportation. Limiting spending to that in NYC doesn’t become hard because metrocard prices are high. With rent control, housing vouchers, public housing etc…it’s perfectly doable. Allowing neighborhoods to densify with as of right development, especially where you only have single family housing, to bring down rents would do far more for lower income household budgets on average than building bike boondoggles.

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