A growing number of New Yorkers are deciding that if the trip to work takes more than a half-hour, then someone else can do the driving, a new survey by the Census Bureau shows.
In the metropolitan region, which for years has been home to the nation’s longest average commute, tens of thousands of workers have stopped driving to their jobs and switched to riding subways, trains, buses and ferries, according to an analysis of the data released this week by demographers at Queens College.
More than 2.5 million residents of the region — about 2 of every 7 commuters — regularly rode some form of public transportation to work in 2005, up from about 2.2 million in 2000.
The latest figures reinforce just how unusual New York is in its reliance on public transportation. No other American city makes half as much use of mass transit. Of the 6.2 million transit riders in the country, more than 40 percent live in the metropolitan region, which, by the federal government’s definition, includes the city and 18 surrounding counties in New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania.
“The reason there’s much more of a noticeable shift in New York City is that there are alternatives,” said Charles Komanoff, a transportation consultant in Manhattan. “In the rest of the country, you don’t have much substitution; you can’t. In New York, you can and you do.”
The shift to mass transit is not saving New Yorkers any time, though. The average length of the trip to work for city residents was more than 39 minutes last year. In the region, the average trip was more than 33 minutes, down only slightly, if at all, since 2000.
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