The Covid-19 pandemic altered New Yorkers’ normal transportation habits on a scale not seen since the subway first opened in 1904—ushering in an era of underground mass transit—or since the Triborough Bridge opened in 1936, and the city entered the automobile age.
A year into the Covid-19 disruption, subway, bus, and commuter-rail ridership remains near record lows. While auto traffic has rebounded more quickly, it remains down significantly. Bicycling has increased by double digits, representing a new way of getting around for workers and leisure travelers. Even after the pandemic ends, it is unclear whether office workers will return to Manhattan five days a week. Likewise, it is not clear whether the city and the region will settle in to new residential and leisure patterns, with more people choosing to live within cycling or walking distance of their workplace.
Despite this uncertainty, a return to some form of urban density is inevitable. Recovery from the pandemic represents an opportunity for Mayor Bill de Blasio’s successor, who will take office in January 2022, to build aggressively on the progress that the city made in the decades before the pandemic in providing more transportation options to residents and regional commuters, as well as ensuring that all travelers move about in greater safety, no matter their mode of transportation.
Join Manhattan Institute senior fellow and City Journal contributing editor Nicole Gelinas, Barry LePatner, Jim Simpson, and Natalia Quintero for a discussion on the opportunities for Mayor Bill de Blasio’s successor to expand transit options and improve safety.