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For many Manhattanites, commuting to work is not really a huge issue; you hop on the subway for a brief amount of time (or walk if you’re lucky), and stroll up to your building. An occasional delay here or there, but nothing horrendously irritating; such is not the case for those who commute into this area from outside Manhattan from areas including: Brooklyn, Queens, the Bronx, Staten Island, Jersey, and the rest of the metropolitan area. Deadlock, congestion and delays are just a part of the daily vernacular, with traffic concentrating in and around Midtown and Downtown Manhattan. Much of this traffic is due to the simple fact that the East River bridges are free, which incentivizes residents of the outer boroughs and truck drivers to drive instead of commuting via public transport.

These bridges are effectively subsidized and made “free” by the tolls on other bridges in the NYC area, and these tolls can actually be quite steep, in fact, a round-trip day for someone who has to commute from Staten Island to the Bronx on the Verrazano bridge racks up $16 in tolls from the Verrazano bridge alone! It isn’t fair that those who have fewer public transit options in the outer reachers of the boroughs have to pay the price for those living near the East River who are incentivized to cross the river for free when other options are available. This skewed system has of course birthed our current traffic predicament with heavy traffic present in both Manhattan and the surrounding areas.

Heavy traffic congestion is wasteful not only in terms of fuel, but it costs the city an estimated $16 billion in lost productivity.

Air pollution is another big concern surrounding commuting and idle traffic. In a case study by Julianna Maantay at Lehman College, it was found that asthma rates were 66% higher in areas of the Bronx adjacent to highways and other highly polluting areas (source). So not only is this issue an economic one, but it is also an issue of environmental justice. Learn more about MOVE NY here

Next blog post: The Big (Apple) problem pt. 2

Earthgargage – Greener Car. Fatter Wallet.