If you were offered a dream job in a city far from home would you want to uproot and resettle? For a growing number of people, living and working in two different time zones is a daily reality, no resettling required. Super-commuters, people who work more than 180 miles from their home, usually commute by plane or train and expand urban work-forces across time zones.
In 2012, the Rudin Center released The Emergence of the Super-Commuter, a report on super-commuter demographics and trends. The findings highlight that super-commuters are more likely to be younger (29 years old and under) and middle-class than the average worker.
Citing our report, Forbes profiled three super-commuters this week. These commuters travel from their homes daily, weekly, and bi-weekly via plane and train over 180 miles each way. These super-commuters sacrifice time and sometimes comfort to maintain lives in cities like Chicago, Minneapolis, and Philadelphia while contributing to the workforce in New York City and Boston.
Future planning decisions, as our 2012 report notes, should consider the implications of growing numbers of super commuters, who link cities more than 200 miles apart. What will increasing flexibility for travelers and in the workplace mean for your city?
Earlier this year, the city sponsored a design contest to re-imagine these 20th century relics for the mobile 21st century. Several contest winners included electric vehicle charging stations as part of their design.
The electric vehicle is on the rise in the United States, electric vehicle sales are the fastest growing sector of the automotive industry and the number of E.V. models on the market has quadrupled in the last year. One challenge facing E.V. owners is the number and location of charging stations, especially in urban areas.
Converting kiosks into charging stations with two to three parking spaces each would be one potentially creative way to reuse the kiosks, which already have electric power. Finding charging stations can be a challenge for E.V. owners: Jay Friedland, legislative director for Plug in America, said that in one California town, E.V. owners use municipal owned Christmas tree light wiring to recharge.
Conflicting jurisdiction and interests of city agencies could complicate the process, which would involve formal applications and approval from the city. Earlier this year, New York Governor Cuomo announced plans to bring 3,000 charging stations to the state over the next five years and put 40,000 E.V.s on the road in that same period. Converting even a percentage of New York City’s pay phones to charging stations would meet statewide goals and increase access to charging for eager owners.
Pedicabs are an increasingly popular mode of tourist travel in New York City. After a series of scams involving the use of the app “Square,” lawmakers have increased regulations on drivers and companies, who are licensed through the City’s Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA). The DCA instituted new regulations about pricing and signage, effective on July 12. Instead of arbitrarily negotiated fares and rates, standard rates are determined by timers. Pedicabs must have clear signage indicating the prices. This will have a large impact on the industry, which has 1,461 licensed drivers and 201 licensed companies (NYC Open Data, DCA).
The data allows us to see who is licensed and their zip code, which for this study is assumed to be their place of residence. There appears to be a large concentration of pedicab drivers from Southern Brooklyn, particularly Sheepshead Bay and Brighton Beach. There are also many drivers in Upper Manhattan, the South Bronx, and Western Queens. The following table shows the neighborhoods with the most pedicab drivers:
New York City has had a heat wave this week, with temperatures exceeding 90 degrees five days in a row. Most New Yorkers know that the subway stations get excessively hot and humid. According to the folks at “L-Degrees”, the average temperature yesterday on an L train platform was 108° F, and with high humidity it felt substantially hotter. For comparison, in Death Valley, California yesterday the temperature was 115° F. Good thing the L train arrives every 3 minutes during rush hours.
Not only does the weather outside heat up the station, but air conditioners used to cool the subway cars create hot exhaust which adds additional heat. Due to the vast ventilation system of the subway, it is impractical to introduce air conditioning in stations. Additionally, there is a lack of space for the machinery that would be needed.
Other cities have air conditioned platforms, including Washington DC’s Metro, but New York’s more antiquated system may make such a retrofit difficult. Other systems including Dubai Metro, Singapore MRT, and the JFK AirTrain accomplish climate control with the help of platform screen doors which help keep the cooled platform air from escaping down the tunnels.
Hot temperatures on subway platforms may provide a reason for the MTA to consider exploring the possibility of installing platform screen doors, and perhaps, air conditioning in the long term. For the moment the best advice is to keep cool any way you can and keep in mind that the next air conditioned car will be there soon.
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.
The Rudin Center for Transportation at NYU’s Wagner School of Public Service notes with sorrow the passing of Susan Kupferman, the first Co-Director of the Rudin Center. Susan’s energy and intelligence made her a joy to work with. Our condolences to her family.
Earlier today, UTRC hosted a panel discussion to ask mayoral candidates about their transportation policies. In attendance was Sal Alabanese, John Liu, Bill Thompson, and Anthony Weiner on the Democratic panel (Christine Quinn and Bill de Blasio were no shows),
Democratic Mayoral Candidates: Sal Albanese, John Liu, Bill Thompson, and Anthony Weiner (left to right)
and Adolfo Carrión, John Catsimatidis, Joe Lhota, and George McDonald on the Republican / Independent panel.
Republican and Independent Mayoral Candidates: Adolfo Carrión, John Catsimatidis, Joe Lhota, and George McDonald (left to right)
Here were some the highlights:
Most candidates support expanding SelectBusService and Express Bus Service in the outer boroughs to provide transit to underserved areas; however none mentioned creating exclusive busways to improve this service.
Anthony Weiner and Paul Steely White (of Transportation Alternatives) got into a friendly debate about cycling in the city. After Weiner mocked the polls indicating support for cycling, White said that bicycles poll higher than the mayoral candidates in front of him.
Sal Albanese and Joe Lhota both explicitly support the city investing in mass transit infrastructure. Lhota believes that the N/R trains should be extended to Staten Island.
Joe Lhota was the only candidate to bring other transit modes into the discussion, such as Light Rail on Staten Island’s Northern and Western shores. He also supports construction Metro North Railroad stations at Co-Op City and Parkchester.
John Catsimatidis said that another subway line would never be built in our lifetime, but supports constructing “aboveways” (monorails) throughout the city.
The Democratic candidates disapprove of the “Taxi of the Future.”
Bill Thompson supports a commuter tax, but almost all of the other candidates believe that it is unattainable.
Sal Alabanese believes that New York City Transit should be under city control. Anthony Weiner said that the city needs more control of the MTA board.
There was a lot of discussion of tolling in the city, with candidates divided about additional tolls in the city, particularly on the East River bridges.
Anthony Weiner noted that the city pays $7000 per student that takes a school bus. While candidates disagreed about labor costs, many mentioned that inefficient routing was a large reason for the high costs of school buses.
Democratic Mayoral Candidate Anthony Weiner fields questions from the press after the panel.