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Car spike in New York City?

Google’s Driverless Car Project (Credit: Google)

New York is the only American city where the majority of households do not own cars, and one of a handful where the average household owns less than one car. Car ownership rates vary tremendously within the five boroughs, Vice reported. Where the subway is most prevalent, household car ownership rates are well below 50 percent, with parts of Manhattan as low at 18 percent. But in the far outer boroughs and Staten Island, most people own cars.

  • By the numbers: In 2018, the last year for which ridership statistics are available, the average weekend saw about 5.5 million rides on the subway, equal to the average weekday’s ridership. If even a small fraction of those rides were to be replaced with private car trips, traffic congestion would increase exponentially.
  • Why it matters: A recent survey by Washington D.C.’s Metro system found an “overwhelming majority” of former commuters would not use the subway system if offices reopened now because of crowding concerns. At least some cities in China, like Shenzhen and Guangzhou, experienced an increase in rush hour traffic after they reopened compared to the previous year. All that being said, talking about buying cars versus actually buying them are two very different things, and as of now there’s no evidence New Yorkers are buying cars in droves.

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