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New Yorkers and Their Cars

Apr 05 2018

The New York International Auto Show runs from March 30 to April 8, which got us thinking about the car culture (or lack thereof) in New York City.

According to recent census estimates,[1] almost 1.4 million households in New York City own a car compared to 3.1 million total households. This means 45 percent of all households in the city own a car (and almost 3 percent that own three or more!). Ownership is lowest in Manhattan, where only 22 percent of households own a car, while ownership is highest in Staten Island where cars are owned by 83 percent of all households. Queens (62 percent) is also above the city average, while the Bronx (40 percent) and Brooklyn (44 percent) look more like the city as a whole.

While almost half the households in the city own cars, fewer people use them to commute. Of the 3.8 million workers in the city, only 27 percent commute via car, truck, or van. Staten Island is the only borough where the majority of commuters (64 percent) drive, while only 8 percent of Manhattanites drive to work. Staten Island is also the only borough where more commuters drive than take the subway, but it’s close in Queens. In Queens, an even 38 percent of people drive to work, but 38.2 percent take the subway—a difference of under 3,000 people.

New York City is famous for its public transit system: the MTA has more stations than any other metro system in the world, has almost twice as many miles of track as any other North American system, and ridership is triple the next five largest American cities[2] (Chicago, Washington, Boston, San Francisco, Philadelphia) combined. The recently launched NYC Ferry is surpassing all ridership expectations, and Citibike lets people traverse the city on two wheels. But cars play an important role in NYC, and the Auto Show gives New Yorkers a chance to celebrate them.

[1] 2011-2015 ACS Microdata.
[2] In terms of Metro System Ridership