As murders sink to record lows and private-sector jobs, tourism and population reach record highs, one problem in New York remains unsolved: traffic.
In fact, it’s worse than ever.
“I’ve been driving for 52 years in New York City. I’ve never seen it this bad,” says Sam Schwartz, the Koch-era traffic commissioner and traffic engineer who is now a private transportation consultant. “Congestion has gotten to a horrible point.”
Nowhere is the congestion more frustrating than in Midtown — between 34th Street and 57th Street — where taxis barely move faster than a brisk pedestrian, at 4.7 miles per hour, a record low in modern times, and 28 percent slower than in 2010.
The bigger problem is not the north-south avenues, but the east-west cross streets. As Bruce Schaller, a planning and policy veteran of the Bloomberg-era transportation department, notes, the streets don’t have a capacity problem. But “mostly, it’s disorganized,” he observes. No one, it seems, is on hand to govern the growing mix of construction sites, government vehicles, pedestrian crowds or idling Ubers and Lyfts — responsible for the addition of nearly 50,000 high-use vehicles on the streets over the last three years — and figure out how these various elements can best coexist.
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