The Hudson Valley Needs Transit to Thrive
According to the State’s estimates the Tappan Zee currently carries 140,000 vehicles each day, rising to 170,000 vehicles at busy times of year. If nothing is done to relieve congestion in the I-287 Corridor between Suffern and Port Chester, by 2030 traffic crossing the bridge will increase to about 200,000 cars per day. The State predicts “without major transit investments, already unacceptable levels of congestion [will] occur in the corridor far into the future.”
More than 70% of commuters traveling across the Tappan Zee are going between the suburbs. Bus Rapid Transit provides the most efficient form of transit to serve these trips. It could speed buses through congested areas with dedicated lanes, while still allowing for buses to continue on to local streets, connecting with more destinations.
Why Can’t We Just Build Transit Later?
The governor has suggested we can “do transit later” but as history shows, this rarely happens. The George Washington Bridge was supposed to accommodate transit in a later phase, but the public transportation was obviously never built.
Transit Can Save 4,400 Hours of Travel Time Each Day…
However, if BRT were added to the bridge the state estimates that over 50,000 commuters would take transit per day. During every morning rush, the transit line would save commuters 4,400 hours of travel time.
…and Save Money and Prevent Pollution
Adding BRT would also reduce pollution. Every day, during just the four hours of the a.m. peak, BRT would reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 59 tons and carbon monoxide emissions by 2.3 tons.
The BRT system would conserve 22,325 gallons of fuel each morning.
Transit Creates Jobs and Promotes Economic Development
Historically, investments in public transportation generate 31% more jobs per dollar than new construction of roads and bridges. Recently, Smart Growth America analyzed states’ stimulus spending on transportation projects and found that the payoff was even larger in ARRA spending, with public transportation projects producing 70% more jobs per dollar than road projects. Specifically, every billion dollars spent on public transportation produced 16,419 job-months, while the same amount spent on highway infrastructure projects produced 8,781 job-months.
Beyond just the jobs created by building mass transit, mass transit will unlock the economic development potential in the Hudson Valley. The BRT system will connect economic centers such as White Plains and the “Platinum Mile” with residential areas, regional destinations and existing rail lines. The need for such a system was underscored by a July 5, 2011 article in the Wall Street Journal which described how the Platinum Mile has lost tenants to urban centers that have access to transit, such as Stamford and New York City. A BRT can stem this tide and restart this crucial economic engine and provide a backbone for future development in the Hudson Valley.
Employment growth in the three counties closest to the Tappan Zee is projected to grow by between 19-35% by 2025. Right now the transit share in the region varies from a high of 7.8% for commuter trips within Westchester County to a low of 1.4% for cross-county trips (Rockland-Westchester, Orange-Westchester).
Congestion is already bad, transit use is low because transit is inadequate today. More jobs without better transit will lead to more cars on the road, more congestion, decreased quality of life. If left unchecked, the congestion will actually deter job growth in the area.
What Transit Means to the Counties Surrounding the Tappan Zee
Over 60% of employed people who live in Westchester work in the county. Nearly 80% of them drive to work, only 8% take transit. Westchester employment projected to grow by 19%.
Nearly 55% of employed people who live in Rockland work in Rockland. Right now 85% of them drive to work, only 4% take transit. Rockland employment projected to grow by 29%.
68% of employed people who live in Orange County work in the county. 88% of them drive to work, only 1% take transit. Orange County employment projected to grow by 35%.