The latest video from Streetfilms is worth watching, it highlights a number of the transport challenges New York City is currently facing:

New York is facing its most serious transportation challenge in decades.

Subway reliability is way down, and the bus system is shedding riders at an alarming rate. And because transit is so unreliable, today New York is accommodating growth in cars, in the form of the tens of thousands of Uber and Lyft vehicles we now find on our streets each day.

It’s difficult to even list all the reasons why shifting transportation growth into cars in New York City is a bad thing. Choking the economy with congestion, safety concerns, making slow bus service even worse, poorer air quality – you name it.

For our latest Streetfilm, we spoke with leaders in New York’s transportation, labor and business communities to get their take on this alarming trend – a problem “screaming for a solution.”

A few things in this video stood out to me:

  • Uber, Lyft and other similar services are getting to the point where they are really clogging up the streets of major cities.
  • New York City has really struggled, for decades, to keep up with the investment required to ensure its Subway system can operate effectively. This is partly because these costs are crazily high, as covered in detail by a great recent article in the New York Times.
  • The emphasis on improving street design so that the most important users get space prioritised for them is something that will probably be a key issue for Auckland this year as we expand our bus lane network, improve cycleways, implement new street frameworks and design manuals and seek a major improvement to safety.
  • 2018 might be the year that New York City takes the plunge and gets serious about implementing congestion pricing. Given Auckland’s also looking at this, having more cities adopt pricing will be good as we can learn from what works and what doesn’t.
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9 comments

      1. Of course, it’s the USA so the reason is racism. I had a lecturer in econometrics who did his Phd in the states who told us to always consider the effect of racism when you read any paper published by a US author.

    1. Last time I was in New York (2011 ?), there were more electric bikes than I had ever seen in any other city in the world. Quite obviously, they were everywhere. What was noticeable however, was that all the riders were ethnically Chinese, for reasons unknown. My surmisal was that perhaps they had brought them over from China, or that someone in the Chinese community was selling them to others in their community. But at that stage, they seemed to be burgeoning, and New York certainly didn’t seem to have anything against them then.

      Six or seven years later, it is probably very different now, at least in terms of riders. In terms of makers, Taiwan / China is still by far the biggest maker of bikes in the world, both e-bikes and non-e-bikes, and the American home market will be lagging far behind. Perhaps some of Trumpfs fabled “American jobs” will get them made in Milwaukee, but i doubt it.

  1. This is where Auckland is heading.

    As an Uber driver I can pickup a passenger in Ponsonby during the evening peak to drop them off on the corner of Queen and Victoria. I cannot opt-out of trips like this and I cannot see the passengers destination in the app. The dropoff is technically illegal (yellow lines) but I am incentivised to complete it via the app’s rating system. The passenger pays about $6.50 of which I get $4.00. I now have to battle my way down Queen St. to get out of the city. The whole process takes the best part of an hour.

    During this trip my vehicle is using a rolling 20m^2 of some of the most valuable street space in the city. Every other Uber in town is using the same. This massive subsidy to the taxi industry is what makes it viable.

    What if I wanted 20m^2 of Aotea Square to setup a hotdog stand? Would the council gift it to me? I don’t think so.

    Uber’s vision of the future involves autonomous Volvo XC90s (large diesel/hybrid SUVs) available for much less than passengers currently pay. This vision requires the public to subsidise Uber by building endless roads to accommodate their vehicles roaming the streets 24hrs/day. These vehicles will often be empty – either on the way to pickup a passenger or repositioning in anticipation of future demand.

    As the video suggests the answer to this is congestion charging. Maybe, if congestion charging were to be applied to the taxi industry only it would help avoid some of the popular resistance?

  2. This is where the ride share, autonomous vehicle people just don’t get it. They still take up too much road space compared to transit & active modes.

  3. Regarding street design, I’m having trouble finding the AT Roads & Streets Framework and the Transport Design Manual on the AT website. Following Matt’s link to the relevant agenda item from the October AT board meeting (the second-to-last link given in this post) it says:

    “Following approval, the both documents will be made available on the AT website by mid-November 2017”

    I’m hoping they were approved, and they are on the website (as I want to be able to direct others there) but that I’m just not managing to find them. Can anyone point me in the right direction on the website?

  4. New York is also being filled with thousands more delivery vehicles, due to online shopping.

    It just goes to show how devastating online shopping and car sharing schemes really are. If you own your own car you tend to minimise use more because the full cost is on you.

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