Spring 2004, p.19

Metropolitan News
Declining Car Ownership, IKEA, NJ Trucks and more

NYC Car Ownership Dips

This may come as a surprise to pedestrians and cyclists, who endure car clogged streets, but according to the state Department of Motor Vehicles, car ownership in New York City is declining. According to an analysis in the April 28, 2004 New York Post, the number of vehicles registered by city residents has dropped for the last three years, down to 1996 levels.

City car ownership peaked at 2.04 million in 2000, but fell to 1.94 million last year in 2003, despite population growth. Experts blame the economy, sky-high insurance prices, spiraling gas costs and the increasing nightmare of finding parking spots. Basic car insurance in New York City can cost as much as $1,600 a year, and much more for younger motorists.

NYC Car Ownership
Citywide: Down 4.9%
2000 - 2,044,373
2003 - 1,943,854
Manhattan: Down 1.6%
2000 - 255,780
2003 - 252,209
Brooklyn: Down 11.9%
2000 - 486,987
2003 - 428,839
Bronx: Down 5.2%
2000 - 268,910
2003 - 255,103
Queens: Down 4.6%
2000 - 784,848
2003 - 748,695
Staten Island: Up 4.4%
2000 - 247,848
2003 - 259,008
Source: New York State Department of Motor Vehicles

Read the latest news on reducing automobile dependence.

At Last, the MTA to Take Over City’s Decrepit Bus Fleet

In a win for long suffering bus riders, the governor and mayor agreed to have the MTA take over Queens, Brooklyn and Bronx bus routes long served by seven private companies whose operations are subsidized by the City. The City will continue to provide a $157 million annual operating subsidy for an indefinite time. Additionally, the MTA will take $322.5 million originally slated for a La Guardia Airport rail project and spend it upgrading the City fleet’s buses and depots to New York City Transit standards. The transfer of the routes, which serve 400,000 people a day and amount to the seventh largest bus system in the country, will take place by July 1.
The MTA is expected to raise the cost of a ride on the routes from $1.50 to $2 to match its existing base fare. New revenue from this hike may help the City reduce subsidies somewhat in coming years.

Read the latest news on the NYC transit issues.

Red Hook IKEA Plan Sparks Brooklyn Jobs, Traffic Fight

IKEA’s proposal to build a large new outlet in Red Hook, Brooklyn is dividing the community along race and class lines. Some look at the project as bringing much needed entry level jobs to a neighborhood with high unemployment. Others see huge traffic problems and a pulverizing amount of trucking. Both groups are probably right. One of the big problems with the proposed development is that city officials have done nothing to make IKEA modify its car-based, self-service shopping model, which is designed for suburbia. As it is currently planned, the 22 acre IKEA will be the largest in the United States and will have 1,500 parking spaces. It will generate 11,000 total car trips on a busy day and have 100 trucks serving it. The plan calls for weekend ferries from Manhattan and new bus service; New York City Transit has reportedly agreed to extend the B77 and B61 buses. The plan would also involve a number of road widenings, including five to six lanes around the site on Beard Street. The city land use review process for the IKEA proposal will start in the next few months. IKEA wants to open the store by 2006.

New York City and Rest of Metro Area Violates Ozone Standards

New York City and 470 United States counties, including every county in New Jersey and Connecticut, fail the Environmental Protection Agency’s standards for ozone pollution. While local politicians like to place the blame on Midwestern power plants, environmental experts say local car and truck traffic is contributing a large share of the ozone problem.

Read the latest news on clean air.

NJ Governor Strongly Defends Truck Route Rules

Responding to a recent ruling by a Federal judge, New Jersey Governor Jim McGreevey, a Democrat, vowed to fight for a New Jersey law that keeps interstate trucks off of local roads. The state law was enacted by McGreavey’s Republican predecessor, Christie Whitman, after forceful advocacy by the Tri-State Transportation Campaign. A Federal judge found that, despite the fact that they reduced crashes on local roads, the truck restrictions violated the Interstate Commerce Clause and were thus invalid. The judge also noted that truck crash rates are approximately twice as high on state and county highways as on interstate highways. See the Tri-State Campaign online at tstc.org for more on this issue.

Read the latest news on the truck issues.

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