New York City is bigger and more bustling than ever. Our population has grown to a record 8.5 million, an increase of half a million people since 2000. The number of jobs in the five boroughs is at a record 4.2 million, an increase of 500,000 in just five years. Tourism is booming: Almost 60 million visitors came to New York City last year, an increase of 65 percent since 2000. The impact on our transportation system is evident to all who live and work here: Sidewalks are overflowing, subway trains are packed to capacity, key bike routes get congested during rush hour, and our streets are full of cars, trucks, and taxis at all hours.
These trends are a testament to New York’s continued vibrancy and dynamism, but also lay bare the challenges faced by the City and the New York City Department of Transportation (DOT). The size of our street system is fixed and building new subways takes decades and huge financial resources. For the City to continue to grow, we must use our streets as efficiently as possible, while increasing safety and reducing environmental impacts. As New York’s economy has surged, the benefits of this growth have not been equally shared and rising housing costs have pushed many workers to live farther from their jobs. To fulfill the promise of equal opportunity, the City must continue to improve access to jobs and essential services for low- and moderate-income New Yorkers and people with disabilities.
Building on a Strong Foundation
This strategic plan builds on DOT’s record of success while charting a course to address new challenges facing our City. First and foremost, it builds off of One New York, the de Blasio administration’s comprehensive plan for a strong and just City. The initiatives in this plan expand upon the proposals in One New York and highlight the agency’s renewed focus on transportation equity. The strategic plan also complements the City’s 2014 Vision Zero Action Plan, DOT’s borough-level Vision Zero Pedestrian Safety Action Plans, and New York’s 80x50 initiative, the City’s plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 80 percent by 2050. This plan continues many of the programs launched in Sustainable Streets, the agency’s previous strategic plan.
Finally, DOT must attain these goals while meeting our most fundamental responsibility to the citizens we serve: maintaining our transportation system in a state of good repair. This is an immense challenge given the scale of DOT’s infrastructure and the challenging fiscal and political environment. The agency oversees the largest and most complex urban street network in North America, with over 6,000 miles of streets and sidewalks, 789 bridges, 95 miles of bus lanes, and more than 1,000 miles of bike routes. The agency also operates the Staten Island Ferry, the second largest public ferry service in the United States. Each day this integrated system supports the movement of millions of people by foot, bus, bike, ferry, and car, and enables trucks to deliver millions of tons of freight to homes and businesses.
At this crucial moment, DOT has decided to update its strategic plan and to reiterate its commitment to street safety for all, sustainable and equitable mobility, and responsible stewardship of our streets, bridges, and other assets. Drafting this plan has also given the agency an opportunity to reflect on the torrent of technological innovations that are rapidly changing the transportation landscape and to find ways to leverage these advances to better our City. This plan builds on One New York, Mayor de Blasio’s 2015 blueprint for a vibrant, equitable, sustainable, and resilient City (see box at above). The plan also draws on input from across DOT and a review of best practices in urban transportation from across the country and the globe. Overall it articulates DOT’s core mission, lays out the agency’s goals for the next five years and beyond, and lists 105 specific initiatives to accomplish these goals.
New York City’s transportation system, from roads and bridges to subways and buses, is controlled by patchwork of City, state, and regional agencies. Linking together this complex landscape is DOT. Our agency manages and maintains the City’s streets, sidewalks, curbside parking, bike lanes, bus lanes, and un-tolled bridges, as well as the Staten Island Ferry. Every trip that starts and ends in New York City, whether by car, truck, bike, bus, subway, or on foot is carried, at least in part, on the DOT system. Almost every subway ride involves a walking trip to the station on DOT’s pedestrian network. Every item for sale at your corner store was brought by truck across DOT streets and bridges. And every car trip is guided by DOT signs, signals, and markings.
DOT’s central role in New York transportation means that the agency’s operations have far reaching impact on the movement of people and goods all around the City. The agency, with partners across government and the private sector, seeks to maintain and expand a safe, sustainable, equitable, and efficient transportation network that supports the needs of our communities and the economy of the City and region.
The agency’s core mission, shown graphically on the left, starts with our commitment to safety. Above all, DOT strives in everything it does to achieve Vision Zero—the City’s multi-agency initiative to eliminate deaths and serious injuries from traffic crashes. DOT places a particular focus on protecting pedestrian and cyclists, our most vulnerable street users.
DOT is committed to significantly boosting the share of trips made by walking, biking, and transit through a more balanced distribution of street space and the implementation of innovative street designs from around the globe. Our continuing growth as a city depends on more people using the most space-efficient modes to get around. This approach is consistent with protecting our most vulnerable street users and meeting the City’s climate change goals.
The agency seeks to improve transportation equity by improving and expanding affordable and convenient travel choices for low- and moderate-income New Yorkers. Through our Select Bus Service (SBS) partnership with the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) and our shared-use mobility efforts with the Taxi and Limousine Commission (TLC), the agency endeavors to improve access to economic and educational opportunities for communities underserved by rail transit and for people with disabilities.
Expanding travel choices and increasing the efficiency of our streets in turn supports the City’s growing economy—commuters can get to work, students to school, and residents to shopping and essential services. The agency helps to facilitate freight movement, advocates for the expanded use of rail and waterborne transportation instead of trucks, and reduces the environmental impacts of freight, especially on communities that have historically shouldered more than their fair share of these impacts.
Reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and harmful air pollution, and helping the City successfully adapt to the effects of climate change are also key DOT priorities. By expanding opportunities for walking and biking and by facilitating faster bus service—modes of transportation that require less energy—the agency is helping to reduce GHGs and to support better public health. DOT is further advancing these goals by promoting smarter freight, shared-use mobility, intelligent vehicles, real-time management of our streets, and the use of cleaner vehicle technologies.
Finally, DOT strives to keep the City’s network of streets and bridges, the Staten Island Ferry, and all of our facilities in a state of good repair. From pavement markings to traffic signals and streetlights to the Brooklyn Bridge—taking good care of the system is a core tenet of the agency’s mission. Smart asset management improves safety and resiliency, extends the useful life of our streets and bridges, ensures more efficient use of capital resources, and saves the City’s taxpayers money.
As always, our success is dependent on cooperation with elected officials, local communities, and partner agencies, as well as on budget resources and political realities. The DOT works with our partner agencies, including the MTA, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey (PANYNJ), and the New York State Department of Transportation, on a range of issues, from improving bus services to coordinating development with investments in transit. We advocate for regional transit investments, like the Gateway rail project, that will help the City achieve its vision of an equitable, sustainable, and efficient transportation system. DOT will continue to be a leader in citywide transportation issues, to foster cooperation and collaboration among the region’s transportation agencies, and to advocate for necessary funding for its efforts at all levels of government.
Each chapter includes a set of overall agency goals in the area being discussed and a set of current and proposed initiatives to achieve those goals. The appendix at the end of this report includes a detailed table of all agency initiatives, and short- and medium-term milestones to measure DOT’s progress.
This plan announces 105 initiatives, including:
1. Improving Street Safety:
- Protecting the lives of millions of pedestrians, cyclists, and motorists who use New York’s streets every day is DOT’s top priority. In the next stage of Vision Zero, DOT will test new design treatments to reduce left turn conflicts, one of the leading causes of crashes involving pedestrians, advocate for legislation to require back seat passengers to wear seat belts, and seek state authorization to expand the use of speed cameras—which have been shown to reduce dangerous speeding by as much as 50 percent.
2. Expanding Cycling:Adapting best practices from Europe and across the globe, DOT seeks to double the number of active cyclists and make New York the best biking city in the United States. DOT will create at least 10 miles of new protected bike lanes each year, improve bike access to bridges, and explore an expansion of the Brooklyn Bridge pedestrian and bike path. DOT will also begin planning for Citi Bike Phase 3, bringing bike share to all five boroughs, and dramatically expand opportunities for safe and secure bike parking, especially near transit hubs.
3. Enhancing Transit:Bus speeds are dropping and many riders are giving up on the system. New Yorkers deserve better. Working with the MTA, DOT will boost bus speeds and reliability by creating at least 20 Select Bus Service (SBS) routes, implementing bus signal priority and new bus lanes on more local routes, and advocating for all-door boarding across the bus system. DOT will conduct a citywide study of transit needs to identify the next generation of SBS routes, potential street car lines, and strategies to improve transit access to neighborhoods underserved by the subway system.
4. Better Managing Freight:The explosion in online retail together with the City’s population and economic growth means more and more trucks are carrying more and more freight into the City. To better facilitate goods movement and mitigate the impacts of trucking, DOT will significantly expand its freight mobility team, complete a comprehensive five-borough freight plan, and, with the New York City Police Department (NYPD), test new technologies to better enforce truck routes and rules.
5. 21st Century Parking Policy:Following the lead of cities like Seattle, Washington D.C., and London, DOT will revolutionize how New York City manages curbside parking and loading. DOT will enable parkers to pay for metered parking by smartphone, complete a comprehensive analysis of how our metered parking is used, better manage and price curb space to increase parking availability and loading access in key commercial hubs, and, with the NYPD, test new technologies to better enforce parking rules.
6. Caring for our Assets:DOT will invest $14 billion to keep our streets, bridges, and other assets in a state of good repair. The agency will complete a comprehensive inventory of all of its assets, invest in modern asset management systems to help guide investment decisions, take into account social, environmental, and financial costs when making investment choices, and continue to seek state authorization to use design-build, a procurement approach that would help DOT complete capital projects at lower cost and in less time.
This plan articulates more clearly DOT’s commitment to improving transportation equity in New York City. Not all neighborhoods have the same level of access to jobs and services. Example: East Flatbush in Brooklyn, which lies beyond the reach of the subway system. Most residents there, the majority of whom do not own a car, rely on buses and walking to get around. In response, DOT worked with the MTA to implement Select Bus Service on Utica Avenue, which will make bus service faster and more reliable, and boost access to education, health care, employment, and recreation for the area’s residents. DOT is replicating this approach across the City in places like the South Bronx and eastern Queens.
Disparities in transportation access not only occur in specific neighborhoods. New Yorkers with disabilities may encounter difficulty navigating parts of the City. This plan affirms DOT’s commitment to work to make our streets, crosswalks, plazas, and pedestrian ramps accessible to all people, regardless of their abilities. For example, the agency will invest about $245 million over the next four years for contractor pedestrian ramp upgrades and new ramp installations. . DOT will also continue to expand wayfinding systems for persons with disabilities, helping them understand where they are and how to get to their desired destination.
The Benefits of Walking, Biking, and Transit
Every day, New Yorkers and visitors to the City make millions of trips for work, school, shopping, and recreation. Sixty-seven percent of these trips are made by walking, biking, or transit, a striking difference from most major American cities where auto travel dominates. If most New Yorkers decided to ditch their MetroCards and walking shoes in favor of their car keys, the City would grind to a halt. There is simply not enough space on our streets and highways to accommodate the traffic that would result. Simply put, our pedestrian, bike, and transit networks enable New York to function.
To ensure the City’s quality of life and economic health, supporting and encouraging walking, biking, and transit is a central part of DOT’s mission. This plan outlines the ways DOT will further encourage the use of these modes to create a safe, environmentally sustainable, and equitable transportation system. Expanding sustainable transportation creates a virtuous cycle for the City. When DOT invests in making streets safer for pedestrians and cyclists, that in turn promotes physical activity (and improved public health) and expands travel options for all New Yorkers. As more people use sustainable transportation instead of driving, greenhouse gas emissions and air pollution are reduced, making our neighborhoods more livable.
Sensor Technology and Data Analytics
To make our streets work better, DOT needs to know how they are being used. Take for example a congested commercial street. For years, if DOT wanted to know how many trucks were making deliveries on that street and how often trucks were double parked, the agency would dispatch a group of field workers with clipboards and hand counters to observe activity over the course of a day. This method, which DOT still often uses, is time consuming, expensive, and does not provide a nuanced picture of what is happening on the street.
Technology, however, is changing that. New tools, including stationary and mobile traffic cameras and video processing software, will soon enable DOT to analyze many more streets and intersections in greater detail and at lower cost. Sensor technology, including traffic counters and GPS devices in buses and taxi cabs, are providing vast amounts of new data. And new computing power and tools for data analytics enable DOT to use this data to better understand and manage the street network.
Throughout this document, DOT will discuss ways it intends to use sensor technology and data analytics to enhance the agency’s planning, system management, and enforcement capabilities. These technologies, for example, may help the agency diagnose potential safety problems before a serious crash occurs. They also provide the opportunity for new coordination with the New York City Police Department (NYPD), the agency’s enforcement partner. DOT sensors and cameras may be able to help the NYPD better enforce truck weight limits and routes and to better zero in on double-parking hot spots and identify offenders. Ultimately, we hope these advances will help DOT cut congestion and pollution, increase safety and mobility, and support equitable economic growth.
How is New York City Doing Compared to its Global Peers?
DOT seeks to measure its success not only against our past performance, but also in comparison to peer cities around the world. The table below shows how New York City compares to several peer cities in terms of the proportion of all trips made by sustainable modes: walking, biking, and transit. In the United States, New York City is the national leader in sustainable transportation: 67 percent of all trips within the five boroughs are made by walking, biking, or transit, far more than in any other major American city. Even Chicago, a transit rich and pedestrian friendly city, has a significantly lower sustainable mode share.
Sources: NYC: New York Metropolitan Transportation Council (2014). 2010/2011 Regional Household Travel Survey. U.S.: U.S. Department of Transportation, Federal Highway Administration (2011). Summary of Travel Trends: 2009 National Household Travel Survey. Chicago: Singapore Land Transport Authority (2014). “Passenger Transport Mode Shares in World Cities.” JOURNEYS. London: Transport for London (2014). Travel in London: Report 7. Paris: L’Observatoire de la mobilité en Île-de-France, L’Enquête Globale Transport 2010. Berlin: Rode, Philipp, Christian Hoffmann, Jens Kandt, Duncan Smith, and Andreas Graff (2015). Toward New Urban Mobility: The case of London and Berlin. Peter Griffiths (ed). LSE Cities/InnoZ. London School of Economics and Political Science: London. Hong Kong: Smith, Duncan Alexander (2013). Urban Form, Accessibility and Transport Sustainability in World Cities. LSE Cities.
Internationally, New York fares well compared to London, a city of comparable population, as well as Berlin. Like New York, London and Berlin have large transit systems, walkable streets, and dense downtowns. Paris and Hong Kong set the standard for sustainable mode share. In Paris only 12 percent of all trips are made by car, half of the proportion in New York. In Hong Kong, this measure is an astounding seven percent. In terms of change over time, New York’s sustainable mode share has grown, though we lag slightly behind the progress made by Berlin and London.