The NYC Jobs Blueprint emphasizes the need to constantly review and reinvest in transportation and to redesign the city’s transportation network to be more responsive to shifts in employment centers and transit patterns. Nearly one million commuters travel from beyond the city limits to work in New York City, on top of residents who hold down the balance of the 3.7 million jobs in the five boroughs. In addition, tourists flock to New York City, with a record 52 million visitors in 2012.Together, workers and visitors put a significant strain on the city’s transportation infrastructure, which is compounded by the fact that many parts of the city, including new centers of employment like the Brooklyn Navy Yard, are poorly served by the public transit system that was designed and built as much as a century ago.
As the city evolves and grows, it will be necessary to accommodate more commuters and make their commutes as efficient as possible. The average commute for city residents who use public transit is 48 minutes, one of the longest in the nation. Long commute times reduce the overall productivity of the city economy. In addition, more jobs are being created in boroughs other than Manhattan—our transportation infrastructure needs to efficiently expand to reach these areas with increasing job growth. Each borough faces its own unique transportation challenges, but there can be significant opportunities for growth if these issues are properly addressed.
Not surprisingly, Manhattan experiences the greatest ebb and flow of people, doubling its population each day with 1.5 million commuters — more than the populations of Phoenix, Dallas, and San Francisco combined. As a result, transportation pipelines into Manhattan – and the rest of the city – including subways, trains, ferries, buses, and airports, must be well maintained to keep the system working smoothly—especially after the vulnerabilities exposed by Superstorm Sandy. New capital projects like the Second Avenue subway line will also help ease the flow on overly-crowded routes.
Over a million of the workers commuting into Manhattan come from the other boroughs, but job growth in those boroughs has outpaced Manhattan central business districts over the past decade.Brooklyn, Queens and the Bronx have added more than 250,000 jobs since 2000.
Many of the two million resident workers who live in Brooklyn and Queens commute daily between the two boroughs. Due to limited public transit options, over half of these commutes are made by car, contributing to road congestion and greenhouse gas emissions. In order to address this problem in the short term, the city should increase its bus service between the two boroughs, potentially expanding bus rapid transit in the area.
More people are working in the Bronx today than a decade ago, but the borough still has a lot to do before becoming a jobs center. For every one person who commutes into the Bronx for work, four people commute out, indicating a lack of job opportunities. A collaboration of public, private and nonprofit entities could work together with Bronx communities to design an “urban tech campus”, a live-work development that will not only create high-quality jobs, but also strengthen the city’s brand as a center of technology and innovation. This type of job-creating project would create even more commuters in the City, and transportation options in the borough will have to be built to provide reasonable commute options to those coming from outlying areas.
The unique geography of Staten Island in relationship to the rest of the boroughs may be the reason why very few people commute there – 78.5% of the people who work in Staten Island also live there. Of those who do commute to jobs in Staten Island, more come from New Jersey than from the other four boroughs combined. To better connect the rest of the city with Staten Island’s talent and jobs, it is time to expand the Staten Island Ferry’s services to include the Island’s South Shore.
New York City’s population is expected to grow by one million people by 2040, presenting an opportunity for the city to create new, geographically diverse jobs centers. To accommodate these opportunities, the city needs to appropriately expand and maintain its transportation options in response to shifts in commuting patterns. It is critical that all of the city’s residents, especially those in neighborhoods underserved by public transit, have public transit access to jobs centers. Linking residents with emerging business hubs will allow for greater economic opportunity and job growth across all boroughs.