2006_09_mta4.jpgAfter data released this week by the Census Bureau showed how crappy NYC commutes were, Queens College went over the data and came up with some interesting news: The number of mass transit users has grown as well, suggesting that if you're going to have a long commute, why not read a book and not deal with jerky drivers and bad roads. The NY Times reports that Queens College demographers found "tens of thousands of workers have stopped driving to their jobs and switched to riding subways, trains, buses and ferries."

The latest figures reinforce just how unusual New York is in its reliance on public transportation. No other American city makes half as much use of mass transit. Of the 6.2 million transit riders in the country, more than 40 percent live in the metropolitan region, which, by the federal government’s definition, includes the city and 18 surrounding counties in New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania.

... The shift to mass transit is not saving New Yorkers any time, though. The average length of the trip to work for city residents was more than 39 minutes last year. In the region, the average trip was more than 33 minutes, down only slightly, if at all, since 2000.

“Transit tends to be slow, though it may be faster than being in a car in New York,” said Alan E. Pisarski, a transportation consultant who once lived in Queens and worked in Manhattan. Counting all the time spent getting to and from transit stations and waiting for trains and buses, he said, a trip by public transit generally takes twice as long as one in a car.

Well, of course having a car makes things speedy. But let's face it - finding a parking space that's not a rip-off? Good luck! Facing some construction or a traffic incident? Double parked vans or confused out of towners trying to navigate city streets in their SUVs? We'll take long subway and bus commutes any day. (Any day that doesn't involve a train going out of service, though.)

The NY Times has a good graphic showing the make-up of New York commuters.