Always striving to be number one, New York City did it again as it took the top spot as the country's most traffic-congested city, according to transportation data analytics firm INRIX. NYC also gripped the number three spot in the world to feel the effects of COVID on transportation. Perhaps the pandemic drove everyone to drive but now that spring is in the air, it’s time to put the pep back in your step and explore the many new MTA transit options.
Here is our round-up of new spring options in New York City transportation developments.
BIKES AND SCOOTERS
The New York City Department of Transportation (DOT) pledged to install 10,000 new bike parking racks throughout the city by the end of 2022. The DOT began with installing bike racks along Bronx Park East in the Pelham Parkway in The Bronx. These racks come on the heels of Commissioner Hank Gutman’s announcement of his plan for e-scooter share in East Bronx neighborhoods this spring.
In his press release, Commissioner Gutman made sure to note, “DOT is not just committing to accommodating the city’s cycling boom with more accessible bike parking, we are pairing these bike racks with major bike lane and safety improvements. Here in the East Bronx, the incredible team at DOT is very busy; in addition to racks and safety projects, they will also bring e-scooter share to New York City for the first time in a matter of months.”
Additionally, we recently reported that Citi Bike is expanding further into South Brooklyn’s Sunset Park, including Windsor Terrace and Greenwood Heights. In the largest expansion year in Citi Bike’s history, and as part of a 93 docking station Brooklyn expansion, the new Citi Bike stations will cover the area from 15th street to 67th Street, and from the southwest corner of Prospect Park to Church Avenue.
The expansion coupled with plans to turn a car lane into a dedicated bike lane on the Brooklyn Bridge will certainly make it easier for Manhattanites, and perhaps tourists, to explore the "outer reaches" of Brooklyn.
The residents of Queens will also see a similar boost to its biking culture, as a lane on the Queensboro Bridge will receive the same treatment.
Andrew Yang just called for all subways to be free for the week around Memorial Day weekend “to let everyone know New York is back.” It seems highly unlikely that the struggling subway system will cut its fares to send a message because MTA estimated it cost it around $35 million in lost revenues.
Shams Tarek, deputy communications director at the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, recently told the New York Times, “We are still in a severe fiscal crisis caused by the pandemic… But we’re optimistic about the future, given the support we’ve received in Washington. We expect ridership to gradually return to the system—it’s not a matter of if, but when—and we will continue to power New York’s recovery.”
But, two bright spots on the subway: As of February 22nd, the MTA extended its late-night subway service by two hours, moving to a 2 a.m. - 4 a.m. closure daily from 1 a.m. - 5 a.m., which has been the policy since May 6th.
And, one of the most enticing reasons to hop on the subway is that there are over 20 new celebrity voices on subway platforms and buses all over NYC, including Jerry Seinfeld, Fran Lebowitz, Desus Nice, Bowen Yang, Young M.A., The Kid Mero, and Awkwafina.
Speaking of buses, the New York City Department of Transportation (DOT) is speeding up Downtown Brooklyn bus commutes. The DOT just announced they will begin issuing bus lane camera violations along the Jay Street busway, as this route carries 46,000 passengers per weekday. This is part of Mayor de Blasio’s “Better Buses Restart” plan to improve travel time and overall traffic on the corridor.
And last, but never least, are the new, sleek NYC Ferries. In what has to be the most relaxing way to get around NYC—assuming you’re not in a stereotypical Big Apple rush—is on the water. Unlike the stale subway air, the ferries' fresh air is a welcomed relief. A recent NYU Langone study found pre-pandemic NYC subway air “exposes riders to more inhaled pollutants than any other metropolitan subway system in the Northeastern United States.” Cough. Ah hem…
This year we will see NYC Ferry service expanded to even more waterfront communities, including a new route from Staten Island to Lower Manhattan and the West Side of Manhattan, a new route from Coney Island to Lower Manhattan, and a new landing in the Throgs Neck section of the Bronx. There will also be a new stop at the Brooklyn Navy Yard added to the Astoria route, and the South Brooklyn route will be reconfigured to commence from Sunset Park/Brooklyn Army Terminal instead of Bay Ridge (this will be added to the new Coney Island route).
On March 5th, the Hudson County Planning Department held a meeting to discuss a new ferry route from the west side of Bayonne, NJ. The county surveyed residents and found a welcome reception to the new proposed service to ease the congestion and crowded transit of the dense population. But a local newspaper concluded that “Currently, there is no funding to execute any of the ideas.” We hope that idea eventually finds some wind (and funding) for its sails.