For years, the city's center was Manhattan, and in many ways it still is. The subway was used as a means to commute into Manhattan for work or pleasure and then return home at night. But now the outer boroughs are becoming destinations in their own right, as well as business centers, and the Center for an Urban Future thinks it's high time the city's public transportation system represented that shift.
In a 30-page report [pdf] they note that the number of Bronx residents commuting to Queens and Westchester County increased 38% from 1999 to 2008, and that "if New York is going to a retain world-class public transportation system and sustain job growth outside of Manhattan, it must invest in solutions that make these less traditional commuter trips easier for passengers." A graph shows that job growth has increased in every borough but Manhattan, but that commuting from outer borough to outer borough is often a schlep. “Using public transit to get from Rockaway to, say, Jamaica on a good day takes close to two hours,” says CB 14 district manager Jonathan Gaska. “You can almost get to Albany by car in the same amount of time." But given the MTA's recent budget woes, is change possible?
CUF argues that minor changes to the budget, including allocating money to create a widespread Bus Rapid Transit system that would run more like a subway line, would make a world of difference. But as Second Avenue Sagas argues, "Buses just aren’t sexy. They don’t have the allure of a new subway line; lower income riders use them; and politicians tend to ignore bus enhancements either by design or by ignorance." Meanwhile, we try to look on the bright side of our daily three-borough commute. We're so well traveled!