How Car-Free is New York City?

Image: Joseph Cutrufo/TSTC

Just in time for New York City’s second annual Car-Free Day, Tri-State Transportation Campaign has released a new fact sheet on car ownership in the five boroughs: “How Car-Free Is NYC?

Using U.S. Census Bureau data (2015 American Community Survey 1-Year Estimates), “How Car-Free Is NYC?” presents not only the share of zero-car households in the city and in each of the five boroughs, but also includes journey to work and median household income data. “How Car-Free Is NYC?” is an update on the New York City borough fact sheets which TSTC published a decade ago to strengthen the case for congestion pricing.

A few highlights:

  • 54.5 percent of New York City households are car-free.
  • Manhattan households are the most likely to not own any vehicles — the borough is 76.6 percent car-free.
  • Staten Island households are most likely to own at least one vehicle — 17.8 percent of households own no cars.
  • Brooklyn (56.5 percent car-free) is most like the city as a whole in terms of percentage of zero-car households.
  • In New York City, car-free households earn 52 percent less than households with vehicles. The difference is most pronounced on Staten Island, where car-free households earn 73 percent less than households with cars.
  • In the Bronx, Brooklyn, Manhattan and Queens, the majority of workers commute via transit. Staten Island is the only borough where a majority of commuters (56.3 percent) drive to work.
  • Across the board, median incomes of zero-car households are lower than overall median incomes, while median incomes of households with vehicles are higher than overall median incomes in all five boroughs and across the city.
  • Only Manhattan’s car-free households earn more ($69,360) than the city’s median household income ($55,752).
  • Car ownership is on the rise: all five boroughs have slightly smaller percentages of car-free households than in the 2007 congestion pricing fact sheets (which used 2000 census data).

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