OneNYC 2050 : Volume 8 of 9 : Efficient Mobility

Strengthen connections to the region and the world

New York City is the hub of a regional economy that stretches from the Delaware River to Montauk, and north into Connecticut and the Hudson Valley. Every day a million people come to the city to work, and more than 300,000 city residents commute in the other direction. That exchange relies on the nation’s most extensive transit and infrastructure network, including subway, Port Authority Trans Hudson (PATH), regional rail, buses and ferries. Additionally, millions of tons of freight are moved into, out of, and through the city to service the region’s economy and residents. As the region grows, increasing access to opportunity and decreasing roadway congestion requires a regional approach and coordinated solutions. We will improve our connections to the region to better serve New York City residents, businesses and visitors, modernize the city’s freight network by reducing reliance on trucks, encouraging sustainable rail and maritime freight alternatives, and improving “last mile” deliveries, and support improved operations and access to our airports.

Many New Yorkers think of regional rail as being for commuters from outside the city. Yet with 39 commuter rail stations within the five boroughs, this system has the potential to be better utilized within the city while improving connections to the region. Through regional fare integration, the city can follow the examples set by London, Paris, and Tokyo, which have integrated rapid and commuter transit to amplify their mobility options. With an anticipated 40 percent increase in commuters from New Jersey by 2040, and growth in other neighboring areas, we must expand capacity to support the regional economy, and evaluate introducing through-running of commuter rail to better connect the region and ease congestion at transit hubs.

  • Invest in major trans-Hudson improvements
    The Gateway Program is one of the most important transit projects in the nation, and is critical to the future of New York City and the metropolitan region. The first phase of the program will construct new tunnels across the Hudson River to increase capacity and redundancy, which will allow for the proper rehabilitation of the existing 110 year-old tunnels that were seriously damaged by Hurricane Sandy. Federal funding is urgently needed. If the existing tunnels were to shut down it would cost the region billions of dollars and impact the commutes of nearly half a million people.The Port Authority Bus Terminal (PABT) in Midtown is currently over capacity and in poor physical condition and will need to be rebuilt in order to accommodate the growing number of people coming by bus to Midtown, including those that have had to resort to street loading with no space available inside the current facility. The rebuilding of the PABT must address the need for creating space for intercity as well as commuter buses, manage air-quality impacts, integrate seamlessly with other modes of transportation, and deliver a design befitting its stature as gateway to a global city.
  • Complete Penn Station and East Side Access projects
    The Long Island Railroad (LIRR) East Side Access project, to be completed by 2022, and the forthcoming Metro North Railroad (MNR) Penn Station Access project offer a vision of more integrated and connected commuter rail systems that can add redundancy and increase capacity to serve the growing region. East Side Access will allow more than 150,000 daily commuters a direct connection to the East Side of Midtown, providing a faster and easier commute to Long Island and Queens residents. The Penn Station Access project will provide a one-seat ride for the New Haven Metro-North line into Penn Station, while adding four new ADA-accessible stations to the East Bronx. This will dramatically reduce travel times for commuters, while bringing reliable transit to underserved communities.
  • Evaluate through-running of commuter rail service
    Commuter rail service that connects New Jersey Transit (NJT) and MTA commuter rail service—known as “through-running”—would provide advantages in passenger mobility, as well as operational benefits at congested Penn Station. MTA implemented a limited trial of this service for the 2014 Super Bowl, and has committed to further evaluating its potential going forward. The City supports operational improvements that might limit future costs of capacity expansion at Penn Station, and increase opportunities for service to secondary centers on the Northeast Corridor -— especially Long Island City and the Bronx. In addition, the introduction of new fare-payment mechanisms and technology allow for trip and fare integration between systems even where physical transfers are necessary.
  • Advocate for regional fare integration with commuter rail lines, ferries, and other modes
    While performance and capacity issues pose challenges for the New York City Transit (NYCT) system, the LIRR and MNR commuter rail systems remain underutilized by in-city commuters, in large part because of high fares and the lack of a free transfer to the subway and bus network. However, commuter rail could dramatically shorten the commutes of many city residents living far from subway lines. The MTA should reduce the fare of in-city commuter rail trips to the same fare as NYCT subway and buses with free transfers between these systems. Lower daily, weekly and monthly fares for in-City trips with free subway/bus transfers would divert tens of thousands of daily riders from crowded subway lines and dramatically reduce vehicle trips. The MTA’s rollout of its One Metro New York (OMNY) contactless payment system offers the mechanism for regional fare integration, and the City will work with MTA to support the integration of more modes of transportation, including NYC Ferry, into the system.
  • Coordinate with neighboring areas to improve cross-border transportation options
    More than 300,000 New York City residents work outside the city, with many commuting between the Bronx and Westchester, or Queens and Long Island. These reverse commuters experience inadequate rail and infrequent bus services, in addition to poorly planned interchanges between suburban modes and the subway. New York City will work more closely with suburban neighbors to support these critical reverse-commute links, and expanding last-mile transit access.
Modernize New York City’s Freight Transportation Network

In 2017, truck-traffic congestion cost the local economy $862 million, hurting local businesses and increasing vehicle emissions from idling. Local freight volumes are forecasted to grow an estimated 68 percent by 2045, which would only exacerbate already worsening highway congestion and air quality. Provided that trucks move roughly 90 percent of freight by volume through the City, multimodal solutions are necessary to mitigate these impacts.

Given rising local freight volumes, and 41 percent of New Yorkers receiving a delivery at their home more than once a week,

the City must work to reduce the impacts of trucks that deliver last-mile freight. This can be accomplished through the use of alternative fuels, clean technologies, off-hour deliveries, mobile applications, and facilitating the delivery of construction-related cargo by water.

  • Implement Freight NYC
    Released in July 2018, Freight NYC is the City’s action plan to overhaul the aging freight-distribution system. Through strategic investments, the New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC) seeks to modernize rail and maritime infrastructure, develop modern distribution facilities, and incentivize the deployment of clean trucks—all while creating nearly 5,000 good-paying jobs for New Yorkers. Through Freight NYC, the City and its partners are acting to protect the environment, traffic systems, and regional economy in the decades to come.Freight NYC includes plans to develop a barge terminal to serve the Hunts Point Food Distribution Center, coordinate with regional partners on increasing marine freight, construct new transload facilities and rail sidings to connect Brooklyn and Queens to the national rail network, and support the development of freight hubs across the city to optimize the distribution network and reduce miles traveled. Once fully implemented, Freight NYC is projected to eliminate up to 40 million truck miles, 71,500 metric tons of GHG emissions, and 30,000 pounds of particulate matter annually.
  • Improve last-mile freight deliveries
    To address growing freight and goods movement, the City’s forthcoming Smart Truck Management Plan seeks to improve the safety of truck travel within New York City, foster the sustainable and responsible movement of goods, expand partnerships within the public and private sectors, and improve the efficiency of truck movement to, from, and within the City. Key strategies include incentivizing sustainable last mile freight delivery by pedal-assist bicycles and electric vehicles, exploring opportunities for microfreight distribution centers in highly congested commercial areas, promoting the development of delivery and service plans for large freight generators, and expanding the Off-Hour Deliveries Program to 900 new retail locations by the end of 2021. Shifting deliveries to off-hours can reduce delivery costs, reduce fuel consumption, improve air quality, and reduce congestion. The City estimates that if only 10 percent of freight receivers in Manhattan participate in the program, congestion during business hours can be reduced by approximately 6 percent. In addition to encouraging off-hour deliveries, the City will revise rules to cut double parking, use its role on the Traffic Mobility Review Board to reduce peak hour truck deliveries through pricing, and refine enforcement and restrictions on delivery times rules in key congested areas, while mindful of effects on local businesses.
Improve The Sustainability And Efficiency Of Air Travel

New York City is a global point of entry and destination for tourists, business people, and immigrants. Our region’s airports are gateways to the world, serving more than 130 million passengers a year. The Port Authority of NY & NJ (PANYNJ), which manages the airports, has committed to major revitalization projects for passenger terminal infrastructure at John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK), LaGuardia Airport (LGA), and Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR). These enhancements will significantly improve the passenger experience.

However, despite substantial ongoing investments, airport capacity is nearly maxed out, limited by congested airspace and a finite number of runways. Furthermore, an outdated slot management system at JFK and LGA limits airline competition  while providing perverse incentives. Finally, our region relies on an outdated, overburdened, and understaffed National Airspace System that hampers airport capacity. By some estimates, rippling delays from our region cause up to 60 percent of all nationwide delays in air travel.

As the landlord of the PANYNJ, the City should ensure airport operations meet the needs of a global city. This means expanding capacity and increasing competition to ensure affordable travel for all, while working with the airlines and other stakeholders to reduce noise and GHG emissions.

  • Encourage sustainable alternatives for aviation fuel and electrify airport equipment
    Air travel is the most difficult transportation mode to decarbonize because aircraft require liquid fuels. Electrification for aircraft is not yet realistic option at scale, and development timelines for new aircraft span decades, so many of the aircraft in use today will still be in use in the 2030s and 2040s. Sustainable aviation fuels can help reduce the GHG footprint of the aviation sector as other sectors electrify. Sustainable aviation fuel can reduce the life cycle of GHG emissions by up to 80 percent.Technology currently exists to electrify most of the equipment used to service aircraft, including baggage tugs, pushback tractors, and belt loaders. Electrifying this equipment could substantially reduce GHG emissions and result in disproportionate benefits to air quality. As part of the airline lease agreements, the City recommends a phase out of the oldest and dirtiest equipment and a move to electrified equipment by 2025. Similarly, ground transportation providers such as taxis, livery cabs, and shuttle-bus operators all have substantial options for vehicle electrification.
  • Advocate for accelerated rollout of NextGen program and operational improvements at regional airports
    For more than ten years, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has been introducing elements of an ambitious program, NextGen, to reform the National Airspace System. The full rollout of NextGen across the region will reduce aircraft delays both in the air and on the ground. However, with inconsistent federal funding and only gradual adoption by airlines, rollout has been slower than anticipated. Accelerated investment in NextGen aircraft equipment will be needed to realize the full delay-reduction benefits. NextGen implementation should be coupled with a reasonable review of operating limitations, or slots, allocated at JFK and LGA to ensure takeoff and landing capacity is as efficient as possible. Additionally, there are short-term fixes that can help reduce regional delays. Fully staffing FAA facilities would improve utilization of existing runways and airspace. Additionally, the Port Authority should continue to ensure runway rehabilitations and terminal redesigns include associated improvements to taxiways and airfield infrastructure, which can be a low-cost way to improve the configuration of its airfields and use real estate more efficiently.
  • Support improved transit access to JFK, LGA, and EWR
    Most global cities have fast and direct mass transit access to their major airports, and New York City should be no exception. The City will continue to work with the MTA, and the Port Authority to improve transit access to the region’s airports, including the forthcoming AirTrain to LaGuardia, and PATH extension to Newark Airport.