How to Go 100 Million Miles in a Day


The combined distance traveled by all New Yorkers on a typical day exceeds 100 million miles–a distance slightly greater than that of the earth to the sun.  Only 53% of New York residents report having access to a car (ACS 2011), this leaves nearly half the population to depend on other means to navigate the city.

This chart shows seven modes of transportation which contribute substantially to New York’s transportation needs; the list is not exhaustive but attempts to include the most important modes.  Many statistics on transportation provide the number of ‘trips’ made per day to indicate the rate of use.  This chart instead shows the total ‘person-miles’ traveled per day.  This method provides a different picture of transportation in New York City.  For example private cars only account for roughly 35% of trips in NYC; however, this mode also provides the longest trips (8.9 miles on average).  A breakout of person-miles shows that private cars actually account for 59 million miles per day of travel, more than the other six modes combined.

New York City is likely the most transit rich city in North America, but NYC as a whole is still very much auto-dependent.  This may be troubling to those who point to NYC as providing a post automobile lifestyle.  However, it can also serve as an encouragement to those who see value in expanding other modes of transportation; there is still a huge space available to create a city that drives less and uses public and sustainable modes much more.


* Data Notes:

  • Pedestrian data only records trips to and from work (note the briefcase), if all walking trips were included this figure would be higher.

  • Sources:

    • Private Vehicle, (National Household Travel Survey)
    • Subway, (MTA)
    • Bus, (MTA and APTA)
    • Pedestrian, (Municipal Arts Society 2011 Livability Survey)
    • Taxi, (Schaller Consulting, 2006)
    • Bicycle, (Estimated from NYC Health and Mental Hygiene Survey)
    • Ferry, (NYC DOT and public information from private NYC ferry companies)

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