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NYC Traffic Is Getting Worse, Nearing Pre-Pandemic Levels

·2 min read

(Bloomberg) -- New York City traffic is close to reaching pre-pandemic levels as more people commute into the city through the bridges and tunnels run by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.

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The Port Authority’s four bridges and two tunnels carried a total of 10.6 million vehicles in August, just 3% below August 2019 levels, but still “representing a sustained return,” the agency said in a Tuesday statement.

Cargo volumes at the seaport continued to surge, rising 14.9% in August, the third busiest month on record at the port.

By contrast, airport passenger volume was down 38% in August from 2019. Ridership on the PATH train was down 62% in August from 2019.

During the pandemic, ridership sank on New York City subways and buses, which are run by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority. Its subway system is still only carrying about half the number of weekday passengers it did in 2019 and State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli said on Tuesday that the agency “faces enormous budget shortfalls that could harm the regional economy with no easy solutions.”

Usage has also increased on the seven bridges and two tunnels operated by the MTA. About 28 million paid vehicles crossed the MTA’s bridges and tunnels in July, just 2.9% less than in July 2019, according to traffic trends posted to MTA’s website.

Proponents of a new tolling program that would charge motorists driving into Manhattan’s central business district point to the increased traffic as a way to raise money for the MTA and help ease congestion on city roads. The MTA is conducting an environmental assessment of the proposed tolling plan. It would raise an estimated $1 billion a year for the agency, which would help back $15 billion of borrowing for MTA’s infrastructure upgrades and expansion projects.

Read More: NYC’s Easy, Uncrowded Commutes Hint at Doom for Trains and Buses

(Updates with information on the MTA in the sixth paragraph.)

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