Award–winning journalist Andrea Bernstein is Senior Editor for Politics & Policy for WNYC News. She has previously served as Metro Editor, Political Director, Director of Transportation Nation, and Senior Reporter.
New Yorkers fret about finding parking spots and traffic congestion, but it turns out city residents are most likely to walk or use public transportation to get to work.
New Yorkers in almost every neighborhood mostly take transit or walk to work, with the notable exceptions of the entire borough of Staten Island and eastern Queens, according to new data from the U.S. Census Bureau's American Community Survey.
A big chunk of Lower Manhattan residents — about a third — walk to work. No other neighborhood in the five boroughs came close to that number of walkers.
Transit use has been steadily rising since 2006 — from 54.2 percent of New Yorkers in the five boroughs in 2006 to 55.7 percent in 2010. The U.S. Census said that’s a statistically significant sample.
By contrast, 22.7 percent of New Yorkers drive to work, down from 23.6 percent in 2006. Fewer New Yorkers are also carpooling, down to 5.0 percent from 5.7 percent.
The numbers on transit and personal car use in New York City buck a national trend. Across the country driving to work alone is up from 76.0 percent to 76.6 percent. Transit use, which had an uptick from 2006 to 2009, saw a decline between 2009 and 2010, from 5.0 percent to 4.9 percent. Carpooling and walking to work also declined during this one-year period.
Commute times have held more or less steady over this period. The median commute for New Yorkers in the five boroughs is just under 40 minutes, compared to about 25 minutes nationwide.