Spring 2002, p.10

Anti-Carpool Study by Garage Owners is "False and Misleading"

Read the latest news on this issue.

A recent anti-carpool rule study by parking garage owners is "false and misleading," according to an analysis by Transportation Alternatives and NYPIRG/Straphangers Campaign. Under the rule, "single occupant vehicles" cannot use bridge and tunnel crossings into Manhattan below 62nd Street between 6 and 10 am on weekdays. The flawed garage owner's study is the basis of wild claims by City Councilmember David Weprin and others that the Carpool Rule has caused significant economic damage. T.A.'s point by point refutation of the parking industry study shows how completely unfounded the claims of Carpool Rule opponents are.

The detailed analysis, performed for T.A. and NYPIRG by Schaller Consulting, shows that the Carpool Rule is responsible for just 6.7% of the post-September 11th decline in the number of people entering the central business district between 6 and 11 am. Additionally, subway ridership has fallen less quickly than auto travel into the Manhattan CBD, suggesting that many auto users have switched to transit.

A recent study by the Metropolitan Parking Association attributed a daily loss of 189,687 people to the Carpool Rule, with great resulting damage to the City's economy. But T.A.'s analysis shows that only 12,709 of the 189,687 can fairly be attributed to the impact of the rule. The group's report finds that a significant number of motorists who previously drove alone into Manhattan's Central Business District are carpooling or have switched to rail, subway or ferry since the rule took effect.

The report by the garage owners contains major false claims about the Car Pool Rule:

False Claim: The rule caused motorists to stop using the Brooklyn Battery Tunnel.
Fact: The tunnel is closed to all motorists between 6 am and 8 pm because it is too close to Ground Zero. (As a result, the garage owners incorrectly include 42,008 people in their 189,687 total-or 22% of those no longer entering the CBD.)

False Claim: The rule kept motorists from entering Manhattan north of 63rd Street.
Fact: Bridges north of 63rd St. are not affected by the rule. (As a result, the garage owners incorrectly include 60,012 people in their 189,687 total-or 32% of those no longer entering CBD.)

False Claim: The rule kept motorists from entering even after the rule officially ended at 10 am, incorrectly including 74,922 people in their 189,687 total-or 39% of those no longer entering CBD.

The analysis released by T.A. and NYPIRG concludes that "there is no documentation that the Carpool Rule has in any way discouraged people from entering Manhattan," noting:

The vast majority of people coming into Manhattan from 6 to 10 am-when the Carpool Rule is in effect-travel by bus, subway and rail, and are thus unaffected by the rule.

Declines in the number of people entering Manhattan at most East River crossings are lower during the 6 to 10 am time period than at other times, the opposite of what should occur if the Carpool Rule is discouraging people from coming into Manhattan.

Only one East River crossing-the Queens Midtown Tunnel-shows a greater decline in persons entering during 6 to 10 am than at other times. However, this is entirely offset by increases in Long Island Rail Road ridership, suggesting that auto users may have switched to the LIRR.

Our analysis concludes that "there is no documentation that the Carpool Rule has in any way discouraged people from entering Manhattan."

The Carpool Rule is an effective way of controlling traffic entering Manhattan between 6 and 10 am on weekdays.


Breaking News!

As we went to press, Mayor Bloomberg announced that he will be keeping the Manhattan carpool rule in place until at least June. A recent Daily News editorial applauded his decision and the rule for reducing congestion, thereby making New York "more drivable, more walkable, more breathable, more livable." The editorial highlighted Bloomberg's comment that the mayor knows "of no independent assessment of economic activity that says it's down." The key word is independent.

T.A. commends the Mayor for his objective and far-sighted decision and agrees with the editorial's call to extend the rule even longer: "it's still working, if the streets remain freer of horn-tooting, exhaust-belching vehicles." Go Mayor Mike!