Manhattan’s hordes of workers pour in by bus, subway, train, unicycle, and helicopter.

Parsons Brinckerhoff

So many commuters pour into Manhattan from other boroughs and elsewhere that it doubles the island’s daily population from 1.6 million to 3.1 million, as per a 2013 Census estimate.

How are they traveling there—by bus, train, car, or canoe? A report commissioned by the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey, called the Trans-Hudson Commuting Capacity Study, answers (most) of that question in excruciating detail, showing the commutes of people who work in Manhattan in a pointillistic, rainbow-colored smorgasbord.

The agency tasked Parsons Brinckerhoff to prepare the report to study a possible overhaul or replacement of the Port Authority Bus Terminal, whose daily users are expected to increase from 232,000 to 337,000 by 2040. Included in the document is this map, highlighted by Redditor legalskeptic, that’s based on port and Census data and that shows “1 Dot = 1 Commuter.”

Parsons Brinckerhoff

A couple things stand out: Folks in the Bronx, Brooklyn, and Queens overwhelmingly use the subway. Much of Staten Island takes the bus, and there’s a hot spot of ferry activity near its northern terminal. Commuters in Westchester like to come down on the railway, while New Jersey workers are all over the place, but seem to prefer cars more than most other areas.

Unfortunately, the map does not depict people who bike to the office. It also misses the two guys who paddle kayaks across the Hudson River from Hoboken, the nut who pedals a unicycle, or the people who zoom from Morristown, New Jersey, to Wall Street in 12 minutes in helicopters. Perhaps a future version will catch up on these outliers.

For folks who are interested in the study’s recommendations, it’s basically “build a new Port Authority.” Here’s part of its conclusion:

The authors have not found convincing evidence that a reconstructed bus terminal with substantially fewer gates than the full-build options presented in the [Midtown Bus Master Plan] could be relied upon to accommodate future demand for trans-Hudson bus travel over the useful life of the facility. Some adjustments in capacity and scope may be possible, but the evidence does not support large reductions in the number of bus gates.

The review of available trans-Hudson alternatives and commuter market trends affirms that there is no effective or practical substitute for expanded trans-Hudson commuter bus service. Meeting this regional need will require a replacement [Port Authority Bus Terminal] with expanded peak-period operations capacity, as well as infrastructure and operational innovations west-of-the-Hudson, especially along the Lincoln Tunnel corridor, that would enable the tunnel and the replacement [terminal] to operate with increased efficiency that contributes to safer and less congested mobility in West Midtown.

About the Author

Most Popular

  1. Transportation

    How Seattle Bucked a National Trend and Got More People to Ride the Bus

    Three experts in three very different positions weigh in on their city’s ridership success.

  2. Transportation

    If You Drive Less Than 10,000 Miles a Year, You Probably Shouldn't Own a Car

    Up to one-quarter of all U.S. drivers might be better off using ride-sharing services instead.

  3. Equity

    The Side Pittsburgh Doesn't Want You to See

    Pittsburgh filmmaker Chris Ivey has spent over twelve years documenting the lives of the people displaced so that the city can achieve its “cool” status.  

  4. Construction workers build affordable housing units.
    Equity

    Why Is 'Affordable' Housing So Expensive to Build?

    As costs keep rising, it’s becoming harder and harder for governments to subsidize projects like they’ve done in the past.

  5. People use leaning bars at a bus stop in Brooklyn in 2016.
    Design

    Cities Take Both Sides in the 'War on Sitting'

    Cities are removing benches in an effort to counter vagrancy and crime—at the same time that they’re adding them to make the public realm more age-friendly.