by Gary Axelbank
September 13, 2019
Bronx drivers who ride the Cross Bronx or many of the other east/west roadways in the borough probably don’t need independent confirmation, but a recent report from the AAA (Automobile Association of America) indicates that Bronxites have the longest average commute in the nation.
In fact, the average daily ride to work for all New York commuters – whether they drive or ride transit — is now 1:42 longer than it was at the beginning of the decade, according to a AAA Northeast analysis of 2010-17 U.S. Census data, the latest figures available. Over the course of a year, New York commuters spend over 6 more hours on their way to work in the morning – in traffic, on trains, or on buses – than they did in 2010.
In their their monthly publication YourAAA, New York’s leading drivers’ advocacy organization lists New York City with the fifth-most congested roads in the nation with driver’s losing a total of more than 5.5 days (133 hours) sitting in traffic last year and they single out the Cross Bronx – no surprise to Bronxites – as the single most congested road in the nation, the fourth consecutive year it has had that torturous designation.
Even though Robert Sinclair, Jr., Manager of Media Relations for AAA Northeast, calls New York ‘draconian’ in the fees, tolls, surcharges, tickets, and red light cameras local motorists are faced with, he told thisistheBronX that there’s a flexibility to driving that is undeniable.
“In spite of all the difficulties,” he said, “so many people are ‘voting with their tires’ and becoming vehicle owners. It’s even convenient for people who are not vehicle owners. Look at the number of extra for-hire vehicles in use. Many people would rather call an Uber than jump on a bus or subway.”
The total number of vehicles on New York roads is astounding. According to the latest data available provided to thisistheBronX by the AAA, in the five years between 2012 – 2017 the Bronx added an additional 22,111 vehicles (a 9.7% increase) to bring the grand total to 249,216 vehicles that could be tooling around the Bronx at any given time.
Citywide numbers are even more eye-popping. Data from 2017 shows there are nearly 2 million vehicles citywide. Of those, more than 100,000 of them are for-hire vehicles, a whopping 52% more than in 2012.
In the spring Robert Sinclair, Jr., Manager of Media Relations for AAA Northeast, discussed the viability of congestion pricing on BronxNet’s BronxTalk
While Sinclair says that an expensive ‘grand plan’ infrastructure solution is the ultimate answer to this historic road congestion, a more limited approach to curbing the number of trucks on the roads with a freight corridor could provide significant relief.
New York City, he says, gets 95% of its freight by truck, while most cities get half their freight by truck and half by rail.
“If you’re delivering freight by rail to New York,” he said, “you have to go up to Genesee, New York to get across the river and then come back down through the Bronx. So I believe you need a rail freight tunnel from New Jersey, for example. If we could do that, you’d take all these big heavy trucks off the road.”
As far as immediate advice to Bronx drivers who are gripping their steering wheels ever more tighter, patience would have to be at the top of the list.