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NYC’s public transit system ranks 23rd in the world, new report says

Written by
Clayton Guse

If you feel like New York’s public transit system is lagging behind the rest of the world, a new report shows that you’re not wrong. 

Design and consultancy firm Arcadis published its Sustainable Cities Mobility Index for 2017 over the weekend, and while Gotham ranked first among North American cities, it was just 23rd among the 100 cities studied across the world. The report looks at 23 different indicators spread across three different categories—social and human implications, environmental impact and a transit system’s efficiency to foster economic growth—to determine the list. New York ranked second in the world in the first category, largely due to the fact that the subway system runs 24 hours a day and the sheer number of people who use it. But when it comes to taking steps toward reducing environmental impact and paying for much-needed infrastructure projects, we're still way, way behind the rest of the world. 

Big budget projects at Newark Liberty International and LaGuardia airports helped New York’s ranking, as well as the new NYC Ferry service. The Gateway Program, which would construct two new train tunnels beneath the Hudson River between Manhattan and New Jersey, is still awaiting federal funding, but Arcadis points to that as a key project toward improving the region’s transit sustainability.

“New York City has some of the most intricate transportation networks in the U.S. and they are increasingly under strain from an expanding population, limited space, aging infrastructure and a booming economy,” the report says. “Key to preserving the lifeblood of New York is its connection to New Jersey, from which 400,000 residents commute into Manhattan daily to work, making transit efficiency between the two an imperative.”

New York’s transit issues are getting worse by the year, but that’s not a result of a lack of ideas. A pair of local think tanks, ReThink Studio and the Regional Plan Association, have both pitched comprehensive plans to push the city’s transit infrastructure into the 21st century. Paying for the ideas illustrated in each of these plans remains to be a major barrier, a detail that certainly wasn’t missed by the new report.

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