New York’s straphangers are now turning to their smartphones to get around town, a new state study says. Train & bus ridership is down, while car driving, fueled in part by apps-based services, is on the rise in New York City. That’s the assessment of the New York Economic Development Corp. (NYCEDC) in a recent report.
“Public transit ridership continued to fall in March 2018. Subway and bus ridership fell by 5.6 percent from March 2017, the biggest year-over-year drop since December 2017,” according to the report. Subway ridership decline was part of an overall drop in mass transit, an NYCEDC spokeswoman said. Bus ridership was down 7.6 percent, and Metro North and LIRR ridership was also down about 4 percent, according to the NYCEDC.
“While there are many factors that can be attributed to the decline in mass-transit ridership, our research indicates that app-based ride-hailing services [like Uber and Lyft] are transforming how New Yorkers are commuting to their destinations,” according to a NYCEDC spokeswoman. She added that ferries and Citibike are also driving the downward transit numbers.
Meanwhile, the number of crossings of the East and Hudson rivers rose in the same period, according to the Port Authority. The Port Authority, through a spokesman, said bridge and tunnel crossings grew at “a modest” pace in the first quarter of the year.
“Growth in subway ridership began to fall as app-based companies took to the streets. This trend is especially apparent after lower-cost ride sharing services, including Via and UberPOOL, launched in the city. Uber, Lyft, Via, Juno, and Gett provided roughly 93 million trips in 2016, up from 41 million in 2015,” according to the recent NYCEDC report “Transportation Trends.” This apps-based ridership increase “far surpasses” the decrease of nearly 6 million subway rides and 12 million bus trips in the same period. (Meanwhile, a new study from the NYC Dept. of Transportation says Midtown is such a gridlock nightmare that the average traveling speed is down to 7.1 mph vs. 9.1 mph in 2010.)
A large part of the drop-off in MTA users, NYCEDC added, was in Brooklyn and Queens. Numerous subway lines in these boroughs have had service reductions on the weekends because of construction, maintenance and other service interruptions. Jaqi Cohen of the Straphangers Campaign transit interest group said, “We have seen ridership figures go down as the system has deteriorated.” She emphasizes the system needs “more investment” and that its funds should be more efficiently spent.