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The transportation system of New York City is one of the most complex of any city in the United States. It is a system of superlatives, from the largest subway network in the world by track mileage to the longest suspension bridge in North America, from its iconic yellow cabs to 112,000 daily bicyclists, from the world's first mechanically ventilated vehicular tunnel to landmark train stations and new multibillion-dollar airport terminals. New York City has engineered transportation like no other city in the United States; it even has an aerial tramway used to whisk commuters from Roosevelt Island into Manhattan in less than five minutes. Along with its size and variety, the city's transport infrastructure is also beset with ongoing congestion, reliability, and funding challenges.

New York is distinguished from all other American cities by its use of public transportation. While nearly 90% of Americans drive to their jobs, public transit is the overwhelmingly dominant form of travel for New Yorkers.[1] According to the 2000 U.S. Census, New York City is the only locality in the United States where more than half of all households do not own a car (the figure is even higher in Manhattan, over 75%; nationally, the rate is 8%).[1] About one in every three users of mass transit in the United States and two-thirds of the nation's rail riders live in New York and its suburbs.[2]

New York's uniquely high rate of public transit use and its pedestrian-friendly character make it one of the most energy-efficient cities in the United States. Gasoline consumption in New York City is at the rate where the national average was in the 1920s.[3] The transit system's efficiency is such that despite the New York metropolitan area's ranking as one of the most populous in the world, hours of delay per person caused by traffic congestion is less than in far smaller cities like San Francisco. This savings translates into reduced fuel costs and consumption as well as reduced costs from wasted labor productivity. Major additions to the city's transport infrastructure have been stalled since the 1970s, however. Deferred maintenance of existing facilities hurt the reliability of trains and subways. Recently the city has reinvested billions of dollars in its subway system and proposed several multi-billion dollar projects intended to increase capacity.

In 2006, a study of the 50 largest U.S. cities by the environmental organization SustainLane identified New York as the city most able to endure an oil crisis with an extended gasoline price shock in the $3 to $8 dollar per gallon range.[4]

New York City compared
Texas Transportation Institute DataNew YorkLos AngelesSan Francisco
Surveyed metro population17.7 million12.5 million4.1 million
Annual congestion delay per person23 hrs50 hrs37 hrs
Annual congestion cost per person$383$855$631
Rush hours per day6 hrs8 hrs8 hrs
Annual passenger miles of travel on public transit18.5 billion2.8 billion2.2 billion
Annual congestion cost saved by public transit$4.9 billion$2.2 billion$1.3 billion
Excess fuel consumed per person due to congestion11 gal33 gal23 gal
Data from 2003 TTI Urban Mobility Report


As of 2000, 3,755,130 people were employed in New York City, with Manhattan as the main employment center with 55.6% of all jobs.[5] Brooklyn has 17.8% of jobs, while 15.9% of people work in Queens, 7.5% in the Bronx, and 3.2% in Staten Island. Of those that work in Manhattan, 30.1% commute from within Manhattan, while 16.6% come from Queens, 16.3% from Brooklyn, 7.6% from the Bronx, and 2.5% from Staten Island. Another 4.5% commute to Manhattan from {{subst:Wikipedia reference 2|Nassau County, New York|Nassau County]], and 2% from Suffolk County on {{Wikipedia reference|Long Island]], while 3.8% commute from Westchester County. 2.9% commute from Bergen County and 2.8% from Hudson County in New Jersey. Smaller percentages commute from outlying suburbs in New Jersey, Connecticut, and New York State.[5] Some New Yorkers commute out to the suburbs, with 2.8% to jobs in Nassau County, 1.5% to Westchester County, 0.7% to Hudson County, 0.6% to Bergen County, 0.5% to Suffolk County, and smaller percentages to other places in the metropolitan area.[5] Of all people who work in New York City, 32% take the subway, 25.2% drive alone to work, 14.4% take the bus, 8.1% travel by commuter rail, 7.7% walk to work, 6.1% carpool, 1.2% use a taxicab, 0.4% ride their bicycle to work, and 0.4% travel by ferry.[6] 54% of households in New York City do not own a car, and rely on public transportation.[7]

Commuter cultureEdit

While car culture dominates in most American cities, mass transit has a defining influence on New York life. City politics, art, music and commerce are all affected. One important outcome, perhaps not obvious at first, is an unusually robust local newspaper industry. The readership of many New York dailies is largely made up of transit riders who read during their commutes. Underscoring this relationship were the temporary circulation declines seen during the 2005 New York City transit strike.[8]

With nearly 4.5 million people riding the transit network each weekday, the system is also the city's mobile public square, a major venue for commerce, entertainment and political activism. Campaigning at subway stations is a signature of New York politics. Where presidential candidates appear at small town diners during campaigns in other parts of the country, in New York candidates meet and greet voters at station entrances and bus stops.

The buskers, troubadours, musicians, jongleurs, entertainers and artists who make their livelihoods in the New York City subway are legendary. They come from Asia, Africa, South America and Europe. African drummers and opera singers, Tai Chi performers and jazz trios, Chinese erhu players and Harlem break dancing troupes and even musical saw players; the artists plying their trade in the subways are countless. So plentiful, in fact, that in an effort to bring some order to heavily used stations transit authorities established the Music Under New York program, which sponsors more than 100 musicians and ensembles giving over 150 performances at 25 locations throughout the system each week.[9] Yet these performances account for a fraction of the acts appearing in the subway. New Yorkers relish the performances of their street musicians; in the momentary pauses between the impatient arrival and departure of subway trains, with the warm sounds of a Cuban guitarist wafting through a station, it is not uncommon to find a polyglot crowd of listeners — secretaries, bus boys, bankers, black, white, brown — united in rapt attention. Many subway musicians also have successful careers above ground. Natalia Paruz, better known as the "Saw Lady", is touring the world playing with orchestras such as the Israel Philharmonic, the Royal Air Moroccan Symphony Orchestra and many times at Lincoln Center's Avery Fisher Hall. She can also be heard on many film soundtracks and TV commercials. Despite her glamourous career she makes a point of continuing to play in the NYC subway (and at subway systems around the world). The "Cajun cellist" Sean Grissom took his performance from the subways to Carnegie Hall, filling the sold-out house with his fans, and later became an opening act for rock star David Bowie. Folk-rock singer Susan Cagle landed a major recording deal with Columbia Records after being noticed performing in subway stations. She recorded her album live at the Times Square and Grand Central subway stops.[10]

As the subjects of song and venues for beauty pageants and guerrilla theater, the subways themselves are a staple of New York City's cultural life. The transit system's annual Miss Subways contest ran from 1941 to 1976 and again in 2004 (under the revised name "Ms Subways"). Past Ms Subways winners were often more unusual than the winners of traditional pageants like Miss America. The Miss Subways of 1960 was Eleanor Nash, an FBI clerk described by her poster that hung in subway cars as "young, beautiful and expert with a rifle." The 2004 Ms Subways winner, Caroline Sanchez-Bernat, was an actress who played a role in Sunday Brunch 4. The 35-minute piece of performance art was a full enactment of a Sunday brunch – including crisp white tablecloth, spinach salad appetizer and attentive waiter in black tuxedo — performed aboard a southbound A train in 2000. With subway riders looking on, the actors chatted amiably about Christmas, exchanged gifts and signed for a package delivered by a UPS man who entered the scene at the West 34th Street stop. Template:Seealso

Mass transitEdit

By far the most significant mode of transportation in New York is mass transit. Only 6% of shopping trips in Manhattan's Central Business District involve the use of a car.[11] The city's public transportation network is the most extensive and among the oldest in North America. Responsibility for managing the various components of the system falls to several government agencies and private corporations. The largest and most important is the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA), which runs all of New York City's subways and buses, and two of its three commuter rail networks. Ridership in the city increased 36% to 2.2 billion annual riders from 1995 to 2005, far outpacing population growth.[12] Average weekday subway ridership was 5.076 million in September 2006, while combined subway and bus ridership on an average weekday that month was 7.61 million.[13]


Main article: New York City Subway

The New York City Subway is the largest subway system in the world when measured by track mileage (656 miles of mainline track), and the fourth-largest when measured by annual ridership (1.4 billion passenger trips in 2005).[14] It is also the second-oldest subway in America (behind Boston). In 2002, an average 4.8 million passengers used the subways every weekday. During one day in September 2005, 7.5 million daily riders set a record for ridership. Life in New York City is so dependent on the subway that the city is home to two of only three 24-hour subway systems in the world.[15] The subway system connects all boroughs except Staten Island, which is served by the Staten Island Railway. The New York City Subway is operated by the MTA. New York is also served by the PATH subway system, which connects the borough of Manhattan to New Jersey.

Subway riders pay with a MetroCard, which is also valid on buses, PATH trains and, starting in spring 2007, Bee-Line buses to and from points in Westchester County. It is a thin, plastic card on which the customer electronically loads fares. In the future all New York-area transit systems will use a new, standardized "contactless" payment system that will use smart cards with computer chips that can be read by turnstiles without requiring passengers to swipe cards.


In addition to subways, city residents rely on roughly 300 bus routes (local and express) operated by the New York City Transit Authority and MTA Bus Company. Both Metropolitan Transportation Authority subsidiaries that serve nearly all areas of the five boroughs with a combined fleet of approximately 5,800 buses. Because of the extensive mass transit system, many New Yorkers do not own a car or even have a driver's license.

The Port Authority Bus Terminal, near Times Square, is the busiest bus station in the United States and the main gateway for interstate buses into Manhattan. The terminal serves both commuter routes, mainly operated by New Jersey Transit, and national routes operated by companies such as Greyhound and Peter Pan. The terminal, with direct intermodal links to 12 subway lines, is used by 200,000 people on an average weekday. About 7,200 buses arrive and depart the terminal each day. Over 3 billion passengers have used the building since it opened in 1950.[16]

See also:


The busiest ferry in the United States is the Staten Island Ferry, which annually carries over 19 million passengers on a 5.2 mile (8.4 km) run that takes approximately 25 minutes each way. Service is provided 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Each day approximately five boats transport almost 65,000 passengers during 104 boat trips[17] Over 33,000 trips are made annually. The fare was eliminated in 1997 and has remained free since then. The charge for vehicles is $3, though vehicles have not been allowed on the Ferry since the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. Bicycles, however, are allowed on the lower level for free. The ferry ride is a favorite of tourists to New York as it provides excellent views of the Lower Manhattan skyline and the Statue of Liberty.

New York has several privately run ferry services. Among the major companies are NY Waterway, which provides several lines running from New Jersey across the Hudson River to Manhattan, and New York Water Taxi, which runs lines connecting Brooklyn, Manhattan, and The Bronx.

See also: Staten Island Ferry

Commuter railEdit

New York's commuter rail system is the USA's most extensive, with well over 250 stations and 20 rail lines serving more than 150 million commuters annually in the tri-state region.[18] Commuter rail service from the suburbs is operated by two agencies. The MTA operates the Long Island Rail Road on Long Island and the Metro-North Railroad in New York state and Connecticut. New Jersey Transit operates the rail network on the New Jersey side of the Hudson River. These rail systems converge at the two busiest rail stations in the United States, Penn Station and Grand Central Terminal, both in Manhattan. The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey operates a subway-like transit system called PATH (Port Authority Trans-Hudson) which connects urban areas in New Jersey to Manhattan across the Hudson River. Template:Seealso

Pedestrians and bicyclesEdit

Utility cycling is a growing mode of transport in New York City. Using data from the New York City Department of Transportation, Transportation Alternatives, a New York City bicycle advocacy group, estimate that 120,000 city residents travel to work by bicycle and make 400,000 trips each day. That is equivalent to the number of the ten most popular bus routes in the city.[19] The City Department of Transportation estimates there are an additional two in-line skaters for every cyclist in New York. The city has 119 miles of bike lanes and has in recent years expanded protected bike lanes on major thoroughfares and on bridges across the East River. More than 500 people annually work as bicycle rickshaw drivers, who in 2005 handled one million passengers.[20] The city also annually presents the largest recreational cycling event in the United States, the Five Boro Bike Tour, in which 30,000 cyclists ride 42 miles through the city's boroughs. The event is the start of Bike Month in the city, in which the Department of Transportation organizes 150 rides, classes, races, expos and other events organized in an effort to encourage more New Yorkers to ride bicycles.

Walk/bicycle modes of travel account for 21% of all modes for trips in the city, according to the 1995 Nationwide Personal Transportation Survey; nationally the rate for metro regions is 8%. New Yorkers each walk an average of seven miles over the course of a day. According to data from the Federal Highway Administration, in 2000 New York had by far the largest number of walking commuters of any city in the United States in both total number and as a proportion of all commuters in the city: 517,290, or 5.6%. By way of comparison, the next city with the largest proportion of walking commuters, Boston, had 119,294 commuter pedestrians, amounting to 4.1% of that city's commuters. The Census figures for the city itself are different, however, showing New York's percentage of walking commuters 11th on the list, after places like Cambridge, MA, Berkeley, CA, New Haven, CT, and Ann Arbor, MI, which were the top four.[15][21] New York's "pedestrian culture" and famous street life, which has given rise to art forms like break dancing and a thriving street food scene, is also integral to the city's cultural life.

Pedestrians in New York compete with cars, taxis, trucks, bicycles and street vendors in the city's densely trafficked streets. Jaywalking, considered by many to be a quintessential New York practice, is so common that former mayor Rudy Giuliani attempted to introduce harsh new anti-jaywalking legislation. The proposal was met with derision by many New Yorkers, and jaywalking continues as before. Although a city law does prohibit jaywalking, it is rarely enforced and the fine is the price of a subway ride: $2.


After the third and final medallion auction in June 2006, there are now 13,087 taxis operating in New York City, not including over 40,000 other for-hire vehicles.[22] Their distinctive yellow paint has made them New York icons. John D. Hertz started the Yellow Cab Company in 1915, which operated in a number of cities including New York. Hertz painted his cabs yellow after he read a University of Chicago study identifying yellow as the most visible color from long distances. In 1967, New York City ordered all “medallion taxis” be painted yellow.[23]

Taxicabs are operated by private companies and licensed by the New York City Taxi and Limousine Commission (TLC). “Medallion taxis,” the familiar yellow cabs, are the only vehicles in the city permitted to pick up passengers in response to a street hail. The TLC also regulates and licenses for-hire vehicles (FHVs, known as “car services” or “livery cabs”), which are prohibited from picking up street hails (although this is only enforced in middle and lower Manhattan) and are supposed to pick up only those customers who have called the car service's dispatcher and requested a car. While medallion taxis in New York are always yellow, car service vehicles may be any color but yellow, and are usually black. For this reason, these taxi operators are sometimes called “black car” services. Despite the de jure prohibition on picking up passengers who hail on the street, some livery cabs nevertheless do so anyway, often to make extra money. When a livery cab engages in street pick-ups, it becomes known as a “gypsy cab.” They are often found in areas not routinely visited by medallion cabs, such as northern Manhattan, and authorities tend to turn a blind eye to the practice rather than leave sections of the city without cab service. The use of gypsy cabs is strictly at the rider’s risk, and it is recommended that passengers negotiate a fare with the driver before entering, as the cabs are not equipped with meters, and fares are not regulated by the TLC. The driver also is taking a risk that the passenger will leave without paying or even rob him.

Medallion taxis are named for the official medallion issued by the TLC and attached to a taxi’s hood. The medallion may be purchased from the City at infrequent auctions, or from another medallion owner. Because of their high prices, medallions (and most cabs) are owned by investment companies and are leased to drivers (“hacks”). An auction was held in 2006, where 308 new medallions were sold. In this auction, all of the medallions were designated as either hybrids (254) or handicap accessible (54) taxis. Prior to the auction there was concern as to whether there would be demand for these more restricted medallions, but the concern quickly evaporated when the medallions sold for a record price, with the individual alternate fuel averaging $403,613.98 for each minifleet medallion averaging $500,500.00 minifleet. The reason these restricted medallions sold for slightly more than the unrestricted medallions is that they were new medallions, therefore the %5 transfer tax was not applicable ($20,000/$50,000 for individual/minifleet transfers)

Yellow cabs are often concentrated in the borough of Manhattan, but patrol throughout the five boroughs of New York City and may be hailed with a raised hand or by standing at a taxi stand. A cab’s availability is indicated by the lights on the top of the car. On some cabs, these lights are accompanied by advertisements. When just the center light showing the medallion number is lit, the cab is empty and available. When the OFF DUTY inscriptions to either side of the medallion number are lit, the cab is off duty and not accepting passengers. When no lights are lit, the cab is occupied by passengers. The amber lights on top of the cab are additional turn signals, and do not reflect the occupancy of the car. There is an additional round amber light mounted on the left side of the trunk, as well as an amber light at the front of the cab, usually hidden from view behind the grille. When activated by the driver, these “trouble lights” blink to summon the police.

A maximum of four passengers may be carried in most cabs, although larger minivans may accommodate five passengers, and one child under seven can sit on an adult’s lap in the back seat if the maximum has been reached.[24] Drivers are required to pick up the first or closest passenger they see, and may not refuse a trip to a destination anywhere within the five boroughs, neighboring Westchester and Nassau Counties, or to Newark Liberty International Airport. As of June 2006, fares begin at $2.50 ($3.00 after 8pm, and $3.50 during the peak weekday hours of 4-8pm) and increase based on the distance traveled and time spent in slow traffic (40 cents for each one-fifth of a mile or 120 seconds of no motion or motion under 6 miles an hour). The passenger also has to pay the fare whenever a cab is driven through a toll. The taxi must have an E-ZPass, and passengers pay the discounted E-ZPass toll rates.[25] Taxi drivers are not permitted to use cell phones, even with a hands-free headset.

241 million passengers rode in New York taxis in 1999. According to the 2000 U.S. Census, of the 42,000 cabbies in New York 82% are foreign born: 23% from the Caribbean (the Dominican Republic and Haiti), and 20% from South Asia (India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh).

The average cab fare in 2000 was $6; over $1 billion in fares were paid that year in total.[26] After 1996, when Chevrolet stopped making the Caprice, the Ford Crown Victoria became the most widely used sedan for yellow cabs in New York. In addition, yellow cab operators also use the Honda Odyssey/Isuzu Oasis, Chevrolet Venture, Ford Freestar, and Toyota Sienna minivans which offer increased passenger and cargo room. The distinctive Checker cabs had long been phased out. In 2005, New York introduced incentives to replace its current yellow cabs with electric hybrid vehicles such as the Toyota Prius and Ford Escape Hybrid.[27]


New York has many forms of semi-formal public transportation, including "dollar vans" and "Chinese vans". Semi-formal transportation can sometimes serve as a commuter service and often substitutes for the city's transit system during unusual events such as the 2005 New York City transit strike.

Dollar vans (they retain the name even though their fare is now $1.25) serve major corridors in Brooklyn and Queens, and a few have begun operating in the Bronx. Service in Queens runs between Jamaica Center-Parsons/Archer and Green Acres Mall via Merrick Boulevard, or Cambria Heights, via both Merrick and Linden Boulevards. In Brooklyn vans run from Kings Plaza to Downtown Brooklyn via Flatbush Avenue or Crown Heights via Utica Avenue. In 2006, the New York City Council, responding to a series of accidents involving dollar vans, began debate on increasing regulation of the industry. Among the proposals were requiring all dollar vans to be painted in a specific color to make them easier to recognize, similar to the public light buses in Hong Kong. The vans pick up and drop off anywhere along a route, and payment is made at the end of a trip.

Similar to dollar vans, Chinese vans serve predominantly Chinese and other East Asian populations of Brooklyn's Chinatown, Manhattan's Chinatown, Elmhurst and Flushing. Chinese van drivers are a mix of Cantonese and Mandarin speakers hailing originally from Hong Kong but now predominantly from the Chinese province of Fujian. With pick-up points at the eastern end of Manhattan Chinatown, their routes terminate in door-to-door service in Brooklyn's Chinatown, Elmhurst and Flushing. Chinese vans are identifiable by small signs written in yellow ink on red signs with the number 168. The average Chinese van fare was $2 to $2.50 in 2005, with a temporary increase to $5 during the 2005 transit strike.

There are also highly competitive Chinatown bus lines operating routes from New York City's Chinatowns to Chinatown communities up and down the East Coast, especially to major cities like Boston and Philadelphia. These bus companies use full-size coaches and offer fares around $10 to $15, far below the $30 to $50 charged by traditional carriers like Greyhound Lines.

There are numerous other transportation services in the city, including RightRides, a free car service operated by a nonprofit that shuttles women home from bars and parties on Saturday nights from midnight to 3 a.m. in Manhattan, Queens, and Brooklyn. RightRides uses vehicles donated by Zipcar, a membership-based carsharing company providing hourly or daily car rentals in New York City to its members, who often do not own cars.

Aerial tramwayEdit

The only commuter aerial cable car in North America operates between Roosevelt Island and Manhattan. Built in 1976 to shuttle island residents to Midtown, the Roosevelt Island Tramway was originally intended to be temporary until the Roosevelt Island subway station opened. When the subway finally connected to Roosevelt Island in 1989, the tram was too popular to discontinue.

The Tramway was built by the Swiss company Vonroll and is operated by the Roosevelt Island Operating Corp (RIOC). Each cable car has a capacity of 125 passengers. The tramway's maximum height as it crosses the East River is 250 feet. Travel time from Roosevelt Island to Manhattan is just under five minutes and the fare is the same as a subway ride.

In 2006, service was suspended on the tramway for six months after a service malfunction that required all passengers to be evacuated. On April 18, 2006, two trams were stuck over the East River for seven hours, trapping 69 passengers. The tramway was back in operation in September 2006. Template:Seealso


Despite New York's reliance on public transit, roads are a defining feature of the city. The street grid of Manhattan is arguably the most famous grid plan in history. Several of the city's streets and avenues, like Broadway, Wall Street and Madison Avenue have become shorthand in the American vernacular for national industries located there (in the case of theater, finance, and advertising respectively).

Street gridEdit

Formulated in the Commissioners' Plan of 1811, New York adopted a visionary proposal to develop Manhattan north of 14th Street with a regular street grid. The economic logic underlying the plan, which called for twelve numbered avenues running North and South, and 155 orthogonal cross streets, was that the grid's regularity would provide an efficient means to develop new real estate property. Street Commissioner Simeon De Witt, one of the proposal's designers, also advocated use of surveying principles and Cartesian linear perspective as a means to discipline the mind and encourage the masses to think rationally. Among the grid's greatest critics was Frederick Law Olmstead, the designer of Central Park, who argued that the grid valued economic utility above aesthetics.

Manhattan's avenues run North and South, and its streets East and West. The avenues begin with First Avenue on the East Side, and span westward to Twelfth Avenue. There are additional avenues, Lexington Avenue, between Third and Park Avenues (formerly Fourth Avenue), and Madison Avenue, between Fifth and Park Avenues. Therefore, there are in fact, fourteen avenues running the length of Manhattan, as well as some smaller north-south roads (not all of which are referred to as "avenues"), found for short stretches along the east coast of wider parts of the island.

Manhattan's streets, running East and West, start with 1st Street downtown and span northward to 220th St at the northern tip of the island. Rather than referring to specific areas, "Downtown" and "Uptown" are usually used as relative terms; one is heading North while going uptown, and South when going Downtown. The Upper East Side is separated from the Upper West Side by Central Park from 110th Street south to 59th Street. South of 59th Street, Fifth Avenue divides east and west Manhattan until it ends at Washington Square Park, after which Broadway becomes the divider. Manhattan's blocks are in fact rectangles, not squares; the distance between avenues is roughly three times longer than the distance between streets.

New Yorkers commonly give addresses by the street and avenue number, as in "34th & 5th" for the Empire State Building. The Empire State Building's nearest cross street is 34th St and 5th Ave. This is the customary way New Yorkers tell taxi drivers where they want to go.

One of the city's most famous thoroughfares, Broadway, is one of the longest urban streets in the world. It begins at the southern tip of Manhattan at the Battery and continues north approximately 150 miles (241 km) to Albany, New York.

Other famous streets include Park Avenue, one of the city's most prestigious and elegant residential boulevards, and Fifth Avenue, among the most famous high-end shopping districts in the world. 42nd Street, a major crosstown artery intersecting with Broadway at Times Square, is synonymous with New York's cultural district and capital of American theater. The Grand Concourse, modeled on the Champs-Élysées in Paris, is one of the most notable streets in the Bronx.

Bridges and tunnelsEdit

Some of the most iconic bridges in the world are in New York City. Arguably the most influential bridge in American history, the gothic, steel-wire Brooklyn Bridge is one of the city's most celebrated architectural wonders. It is one of the oldest suspension bridges in the United States and the largest in the world when it was completed. The Williamsburg Bridge and Manhattan Bridge are the two others in the triumvirate of architecturally-significant East River crossings. The Queensboro Bridge, which links Manhattan and Queens, is among the great cantilever bridges in the history of American bridge design and was immortalized by Simon & Garfunkel in their hit song, The 59th Street Bridge Song/Feelin’ Groovy. The borough of Staten Island was connected to Brooklyn in 1964 with the completion of the Verrazano Narrows Bridge, the nation's longest suspension bridge. Its towers, which rise 650 feet above the water, are 4,260 feet apart. The bridge is so vast that the towers are 1 5/8 inches farther apart at their tops, than the bottom, due to the curvature of the earth.

New York has historically been a pioneer in tunnel construction. The Lincoln Tunnel, which carries 120,000 vehicles per day under the Hudson River between New Jersey and Manhattan, is the world's busiest vehicular tunnel. The Holland Tunnel, also under the Hudson River, was the first mechanically ventilated vehicular tunnel in the world and is considered a National Civil Engineering Landmark by the American Society of Civil Engineers. The Lincoln and Holland tunnels were built instead of bridges to allow for the free passage of the large passenger and cargo ships that sailed through New York Harbor and up the Hudson to Manhattan's piers. Soon after the Holland Tunnel was opened in 1927, support grew for a tunnel under the East River to relieve congestion on the bridges connecting Manhattan with Queens and Brooklyn. When it was completed in 1940, the Queens Midtown Tunnel was the largest non-Federal project of its time. President Franklin Delano Roosevelt was the first person to drive through it. In 1950, the Brooklyn-Battery Tunnel was opened to traffic. At 9,117 feet (2,779 meters), it is the longest underwater tunnel in North America. Template:Seealso

Expressways and ParkwaysEdit

A less favored alternative to commuting by rail and boat is the New York region's outdated and congested expressway network, designed by Robert Moses. The city's extensive network of parkways and expressways includes four primary Interstate Highways: I-78, I-80, I-87 (also known as the Major Deegan Expressway in the city and the New York State Thruway for points north) and I-95 (which is also the New Jersey Turnpike in that state until it crosses the Hudson River at the George Washington Bridge, where it becomes the Cross Bronx Expressway, then the Bruckner Expressway, and finally the New England Thruway before crossing into Connecticut and becoming the Connecticut Turnpike). I-278 serves as a partial beltway around the city, and there are numerous three-digit Interstates of I-78 and I-95. The Long Island Expressway (I-495) begins at the Queens Midtown Tunnel runs through the heart of Queens east into Nassau County and the rest of Long Island.

Also designed by Robert Moses are a series of limited-access parkways. Originally designed to connect New York City to its more-rural suburbs, they have become heavily-used thoroughfares in their own right, despite the fact that they were designed from the outset to only carry cars. The FDR Drive and Harlem River Drive are two routes through Manhattan, the Bronx River Parkway and Hutchinson River Parkway link the Bronx to nearby Westchester County and its parkways, and the Grand Central Parkway and Belt Parkway provide similar functions for Long Island's parkway system. A number of expressways got their start as parkways (including the Whitestone Expressway, the Prospect Expressway which links to Ocean Parkway in Brooklyn, and the Gowanus Expressway).

Inter-city railEdit

Amtrak provides long-distance passenger rail connections from New York's Penn Station to Boston, New Haven, Philadelphia, Baltimore and Washington, D.C.; Upstate New York, New England and Montreal, Canada; and destinations in the South and Midwest. For trips of less than 500 miles, Amtrak is often cheaper and easier than air travel, and sometimes faster if travel to and from the airport and security check-in times are included. Amtrak's high-speed Acela service from New York to Boston and Washington uses tilting technology and fast electric locomotives. This route, known as the Northeast Corridor, accounts for about half of Amtrak's total national ridership.

In 2004, Penn Station was the busiest Amtrak station in the United States by annual boardings with 4,367,553, more than double those of its nearest competitor, in Washington, D.C..[28]


New York is served by three major airports, JFK International Airport, Newark Liberty International Airport and La Guardia Airport. 100 million travelers used New York's airports in 2005 as the city surpassed Chicago to become the busiest air gateway in the nation.[29] JFK and Newark's outbound international travel accounted for nearly a quarter of all U.S. travelers who went overseas in 2004.[30]

With nearly 100 airlines operating regularly scheduled flights, JFK is the major entry point for international arrivals in the United States and is the largest international air freight gateway in the nation by value of shipments.[31] It is located along Jamaica Bay near Howard Beach, Queens. La Guardia, also in Queens, handles domestic flights, while Newark, located in Newark, New Jersey, handles both international and domestic flights and rivals JFK in prominence. JFK and Newark both connect to regional rail services by a light rail service.[32] The three airports may not have enough capacity to meet future demand; in a March 2006 interview with New York Magazine, head of the Port Authority Anthony Coscia said the next project the Port Authority should work on is to consider a fourth major airport for the region.[33]

New York is also served by several smaller airports in its suburban areas. Long Island MacArthur Airport is about forty-five minutes east of New York, and is the New York airport of choice for Southwest Airlines. Westchester County Airport, located about thirty minutes north of New York in White Plains, is sometimes favored by New York travellers because it is significantly smaller and thus less busy than the three major airports. It has recently become the airport of choice for AirTran Airways. Further to the north is Stewart International Airport.

Teterboro Airport, located in Bergen County, New Jersey, and Republic Airport, in East Farmingdale, New York, are New York City's primary general aviation airports. The first airport in the city was Floyd Bennett Field, now closed and part of the Gateway National Recreation Area.

Manhattan has three public heliports. The Downtown Manhattan Heliport, located at the eastern end of Wall Street on Pier 6, on the East River, was the first heliport in the United States to be certified for scheduled passenger helicopter service by the Federal Aviation Administration. The heliport is the normal landing spot for President George W. Bush on visits to New York. The soundproof terminal contains gift shops, administrative offices, a VIP lounge and general passenger waiting area, as well as X-ray and bomb-detection machines at a security checkpoint. U.S. Helicopter operates regularly scheduled flights to JFK Airport. The flights last less than 10 minutes and cost $159 each way. Two other terminals are the East 34th Street Heliport, which consists of a terminal building and fuel filling station and averages 20,000 take-offs and landings each year, and the West 30th Street Heliport. Open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, the West 30th Street Heliport can see as much as three times the traffic of the Downtown Manhattan Heliport during peak travel periods. There is also seaplane service at the 23rd Street Skyport located on the East River.

See alsoEdit


The New York Harbor, with its natural advantages of deep water channels and protection from the Atlantic Ocean, has historically been one of the most important ports in the United States. Built in 1648 by Governor Peter Stuyvesant, the port grew rapidly with the introduction of steamships and especially with the completion in 1825 of the Erie Canal, which made New York the most important connection between Europe and the American heartland. By the mid 19th century, more passengers and products came through the Port of New York than all other harbors in the country combined. In 1944, at the height of World War II, the New York port was the busiest in world history.

The Port of New Jersey and New York is now the third busiest in the United States, behind Los Angeles and Long Beach, California. Each year, more than 25 million tons of oceanborne general cargo moves through New York, including 4.5 million TEUs (twenty-foot equivalent units) of containerized cargo. In 2005 more than 5,300 ships delivered goods to the port that went to 35% of the U.S. population.[34] The port is experiencing rapid growth. Shipments increased nearly 12% in 2005. There are three cargo terminals and a passenger terminal on the New York City side of the harbor, including the Howland Hook Marine Terminal, Red Hook Container Terminal, Brooklyn Marine Terminal, and New York Cruise Terminal; three additional cargo terminals are on the New Jersey side.

The port of New York is also a major hub for passenger ships. More than half a million people depart annually from Manhattan's cruise ship terminal on the Hudson River, accounting for five percent of the worldwide cruise industry and employing 21,000 residents in the city. The Queen Mary 2, the world's largest passenger ship and one of the few traditional ocean liners still in service, was designed specifically to fit under the Verrazano Bridge, itself the longest suspension bridge in the United States. The Queen Mary 2 makes regular ports of call on her transatlantic runs from Southampton, England. The city is building a new cruise ship terminal in Red Hook, Brooklyn.

Originally focused on Brooklyn's waterfront, especially at the Brooklyn Army Terminal in Sunset Park, most container ship cargo operations have shifted to the Port Newark-Elizabeth Marine Terminal on the other side of the bay. The terminal, operated by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, is the largest port complex on the East Coast. $114.54 billion of cargo passed through the Port of New York and New Jersey in 2004. The top five trading partners at the port are China, Italy, Germany, Brazil and India.

Water quality in the New York Harbor has improved dramatically since passage of the Clean Water Act and extensive harbor cleanup projects. A common misconception is that the Upper Bay is devoid of marine life. It actually supports a diverse population of marine species, including striped bass. New Yorkers regularly kayak and sail in the harbor, which has become a major recreational site for the city. Water quality problems persist in Long Island Sound, however.

Other infrastructureEdit

There are several other major infrastructure systems that are critical to New York. One is the network of water tunnels that transfer drinking water from the vast protected watershed in the Catskill Mountains to the city. Currently two water tunnels supply water. A third, officially named City Tunnel No. 3, has been under construction for several decades. The largest capital construction project in the United States, it will eventually span more than 60 miles and is expected to be complete in 2020. Operation of the new tunnel will allow repair and inspection of Tunnels No. 1 and 2 for the first time since their completion. The activated portion of Tunnel No. 3, constructed in bedrock 250 to 800 feet below the surface, runs 13 miles and begins at Hillview Reservoir in Yonkers, New York. It extends across Central Park and eastward under the East River and Roosevelt Island into Astoria, Queens.

Future/Proposed transportation projectsEdit

There are several proposals for expanding the New York City transit system that are in various stages of discussion, planning, or initial funding. Some of them would compete with others for available funding.

  • PATH World Trade Center station, whose construction began in late 2005, will replace the PATH terminal destroyed in the September 11, 2001 attacks with a new central terminal designed by Santiago Calatrava that will allow easy transfer between the PATH system, several subway lines and proposed new projects. It is expected to serve 250,000 travelers daily.
  • Fulton Street Transit Center, a $750 million project in Lower Manhattan that will improve access to and connections between 12 subway lines, PATH service and the World Trade Center site. Construction began in 2005 and will be finished in 2008.
  • Moynihan Station would expand Penn Station into the James Farley Post Office building across the street.
  • Second Avenue Subway, a new north-south line, first proposed in 1929, would run from 125th Street in Harlem to Hanover Square in lower Manhattan.
  • IRT Flushing Line Extension would extend the 7 service (Flushing line) west from its current terminus at Times Square, then south to the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center.
  • East Side Access project would route some Long Island Railroad Trains to Grand Central Terminal instead of Penn Station. Since many, if not most, LIRR commuters work on the east side of Manhattan, many in walking distance of Grand Central, this proposal would save considerable travel time and reduce congestion at Penn Station and on subway lines connecting it with the east side. It would also greatly expand the hourly capacity of the LIRR system.
  • The Lower Manhattan-Jamaica/JFK Transportation Project would extend an existing Long Island Railroad line from Jamaica Station to downtown Brooklyn via a new 3-mile tunnel under the East River. AirTrain JFK-compatible cars would run along the new route, connecting John F. Kennedy International Airport and Jamaica with lower Manhattan.
  • Trans-Hudson Express Tunnel would add a second pair of railroad tracks under the Hudson River, connecting an expanded Penn Station to NJ Transit lines.
  • Although New York City does not have light rail as of 2005, a few proposals exist:
    • there are plans to convert 42nd Street into a light rail transit mall which would be closed to all vehicles except emergency vehicles[16]. The idea was previously planned in the early 1990s, and was approved by the City Council in 1994, but stalled due to lack of funds.
    • Staten Island light rail proposals have found political support from Senator Charles Schumer and local political and business leaders.
  • JFK Airport is undergoing a US$10.3 billion redevelopment, one of the largest airport reconstruction projects in the world. In recent years, Terminal One, Terminal Four and Terminal Nine have been reconstructed, and work has begun on a new Terminal Five. The remaining five terminals are slated for demolition or reconstruction.
  • Santiago Calatrava has also proposed an aerial gondola system linking Manhattan, Governors Island and Brooklyn as part of the city's plans to develop the island.
  • In August 2006 the MTA revealed that all future subway stations, including ones built for the Second Avenue subway, the No. 7 line extension, and the new South Ferry station will be outfitted with special air-cooling systems to reduce the temperature along platforms.[35]

See alsoEdit

Further readingEdit

  • Taxi!: Cabs and Capitalism in New York City, Biju Mathew 2005
  • New York Underground, Julia Solis 2004
  • The Works: Anatomy of a City, Kate Ascher 2005
  • Underground Harmonies: Music and Politics in the Subways of New York , Susie J. Tanenbaum 1995

External linksEdit

  1. 1.0 1.1 Highlights of the 2001 National Household Travel Survey, Bureau of Transportation Statistics, U.S. Department of Transportation, accessed May 21, 2006
  2. The MTA Network, Metropolitan Transportation Authority, accessed May 17, 2006
  3. Jervey, Ben. "The Big Green Apple: Your Guide to Eco-Friendly Living in New York City." See Metro New York article:[1]
  4. "U.S. Cities’ Preparedness for an Oil Crisis.", SustainLane, March 2006.
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 County-To-County Worker Flow Files. Census 2000. United States Census Bureau.
  6. Table B08406. SEX OF WORKERS BY MEANS OF TRANSPORTATION FOR WORKPLACE GEOGRAPHY - Universe: WORKERS 16 YEARS AND OVER. 2004 American Community Survey. United States Census Bureau.
  7. Table B08201. HOUSEHOLD SIZE BY VEHICLES AVAILABLE - Universe: HOUSEHOLDS. 2004 American Community Survey. United States Census Bureau.
  8. "Since Riders Had No Subways, Commuter Papers Struggled, Too." The New York Times December 26, 2005.
  9. Metropolitan Transportation Authority: Music Under New York - Facts About the Program
  10. "Underground Musician" New York magazine, May 1, 2006
  11. "Necessity or Choice? Why People Drive in Manhattan." Transportation Alternatives Feb 2006.
  12. "M.T.A. Ridership Grows Faster Than Population." 24 August 2006 The New York Times.[2] See also "MTA Ridership takes Express with 31% Surge." 24 August 2006 The New York Post.[3]
  13. The New York Times.[4]
  14. The MTA Network: Public Transportation for the New York Region, Metropolitan Transportation Authority.
  15. The New York City Subway and the PATH both operate 24 hours a day
  16. Port Authority Bus Terminal
  17. Facts About the Ferry, New York City Department of Transportation
  18. About the MTA Long Island Rail Road, Metropolitan Transportation Authority.
  19. "Biking It." Schaller, Bruce. Gotham Gazette July 2006.[5]
  20. "Regulating Rickshaws." Gotham Gazette 6 Mar 2006.[6]
  21. Journey to Work Trends in the United States and its Major Metropolitan Areas, 1960-2000, Nancy McGuckin and Nanda Srinivasan, FHWA-EP-03-058, Ch. 4.
  22. “The State of the NYC Taxi.” Peter Schenkman, Assistant Commissioner for Safety & Emissions. 9 March 2006.[7]
  23. “Taxi Dreams.” PBS and WNET, Aug. 2001.[8]
  24. New York Taxis -- Getting around New York City in a Taxi [9]
  25. New York City Taxi and Limousine Commission: Passenger Information, Rate of Fare, accessed June 11, 2006.
  26. “Taxi Dreams.” PBS and WNET, Aug. 2001.[10]
  27. New York City Taxi and Limousine Commission: Taxi and Limousine Commission Votes Today to Authorize Cleaner, Greener Hybird-Electric Taxicabs, September 8, 2005, retrieved August 16, 2006.
  28. TABLE 1-8 Top 50 Amtrak Stations by Number of Boardings: Fiscal Year 2004, Bureau of Transportation Statistics, accessed June 1, 2006
  29. Bureau of Transportation Statistics, U.S. Department of Transportation. [11]
  30. Bureau of Transportation Statistics, U.S. Department of Transportation.[12]
  31. Bureau of Transportation Statistics, U.S. Department of Transportation.[13]
  32. See AirTrain JFK and AirTrain Newark.
  33. "The Shining PATH." New York Magazine March 13, 2006.
  34. "New York's Port, Beyond Dubai." Gotham Gazette Mar 2006.
  35. "Cooler subways coming - eventually." 4 Aug 2006, New York Daily News.[14]
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