(New York, NY - Jim O'Grady, WNYC) The outer boroughs of New York City are creating jobs, but the newly employed might have some trouble commuting: New York's bus service has not kept pace with employment growth. Those are claims in a report just released by the Center for an Urban Future, a think tank in Lower Manhattan.
The report says that over the past two decades, the number of outer borough residents commuting from borough to borough or within their borough has been increasing much faster than the number who make the more traditional trip into Manhattan's business districts. Because the subways are generally oriented toward moving riders to and from Manhattan, many outer borough residents with outer borough jobs take the bus.
The report's author, David Giles, says the outer borough bus system is straining under the weight of 60 percent more riders since 1990.
"Despite the fact that transit ridership patterns have been shifting, with more people working in the boroughs, the MTA and NYC Department of Transportation have not made the investments necessary to keep up with these trends," he writes.
The study, called "Behind the Curb," concludes that "the biggest losers in all this have been New York City’s working poor."
The report goes on to say that New York has the slowest bus speeds in the country. Not surprisingly, outer borough bus riders have the longest median commutes.
But the outer boroughs are where New York's new jobs are. Giles says Manhattan had a net loss of 109,029 jobs between 2000 and 2009. But during the same period, the outer boroughs saw employment gains: Staten Island with 4,045 jobs (a 4.6 percent increase); Queens with 11,584 jobs (2.4 percent); the Bronx with 16,557 jobs (7.7 percent); and Brooklyn with 35,010 jobs (7.9 percent).
Those jobs were mostly produced by the health care and education sectors. But other large employers--like the new Hunts Point Market in the Bronx with 20,000 employees and JFK Airport in Queens with 50,000 employees--complain that it’s getting harder for their employees in the boroughs to reach work because, in part, the buses are getting more crowded. Additionally, as new employers spread out, some of them are far from existing bus lines.
The Center recommends the city speed up the roll-out of Select Bus Service--buses with dedicated lanes and, in some cities, technology to move faster by keeping lights in their favor. It also calls for the state to commit to a dedicated revenue stream for the MTA, something transit advocates have been saying for years.
Listen to the report's author, David Giles, discuss his findings on WNYC Radio.