Traffic has come roaring back in New York City since the height of the Covid pandemic, but even as cars have returned, congestion that has paralyzed Manhattan for years is spreading to the city’s other boroughs. Some neighborhoods are being choked by more vehicles than they have ever seen before, with traffic snarls fueled by a plunge in transit use and car-pooling, soaring car ownership and a surge in delivery trucks servicing e-commerce customers.

Skyrocketing traffic is not just maddening; it has made the city’s streets deadlier for pedestrians and cyclists. Traffic fatalities rose to their highest level in nearly a decade – and scientists are also seeing higher levels of climate-changing emissions.

The army of office workers still clocking in remotely means fewer cars flow into the city from the suburbs, lessening Manhattan congestion, but traffic has slowed to a crawl on highways in Brooklyn, Queens and Staten Island, according to analytics company, INRIX. The city’s most congested artery has become the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway, where since 2019 the average travel speed has dropped during the morning rush by 19% to 21.5 miles per hour. Average speeds have also fallen on the Belt Parkway in Brooklyn, the Long Island Expressway and Grand Central Parkway in Queens and the Cross Bronx Expressway, where the average speed barely exceeds 15 mph.

NYC topped a 2021 scorecard of the country’s most congested urban areas, with drivers losing an average of 102 hours annually to traffic, nearly three times the national average. This prompted NYC officials to revive gridlock alert days, when people are warned to avoid certain parts of the city and asked to use public transit.

Mayor Eric Adams plans to use technology to monitor traffic patterns in real time and has called for rethinking truck deliveries – including shifting more rush-hour deliveries to off hours. Experts say the number of vehicles will only intensify as more office workers and tourists return. Truck traffic is already swamping roads, with daily volumes exceeding 2019 levels, according to Sam Schwartz, a former city traffic commissioner, who described the highway system as “overloaded.”

Congestion pricing, which many hope will help alleviate traffic woes, has been delayed until at least 2023, despite Mr. Adams’ support for the plan. In the meantime, the rise in traffic outside Manhattan is having a noticeable effect on some neighborhoods. Even as average weekday vehicle trips ending in the city have declined overall, a half-dozen neighborhoods had more vehicle trips in September and October than in the same period in 2019, according to StreetLight Data, an analytics company. In St. Albans, Queens, vehicle trips rose 4.8%, followed by North Bushwick in Brooklyn at 4.6% and Bronxdale in the Bronx at 4.3%.

The pandemic has turned many New Yorkers into car owners, as they have abandoned public transit because they’re afraid of the virus or crime. Total registrations in the city for passenger vehicles reached 2.2 million in 2021, up from 1.9 million in all of 2019, according to state records.

Source: The New York Times

Article by Black Car News

Black Car News provides breaking news, editorial, and information to drivers, owners, and other key players in the New York City for-hire vehicle industry.

See All Articles