Upzone commercial areas to allow more housing in them.
If employees return to physical workplaces after months of lockdown, they face a conundrum: take public transit, at a time when many fear crowds and COVID-19, or drive alone. If enough workers opt for the latter, New York City will face the prospect of calamitous traffic – a veritable “carpocolypse.” In New York City, traffic is recovering faster than the city itself: subway ridership is still down nearly 80% from last year while vehicle volume into Manhattan is only 15% off pre-pandemic levels.
Yet a third option exists, one that can help alleviate the ills caused by coronavirus and commuting: build more housing within walking distance of workplaces.
The coronavirus pandemic has exposed a vulnerability of urban America. Each day, armies of workers commute by public transit and personal automobile to their jobs and back. These daily migrations render cities dependent on extensive transportation infrastructure, each part of the system dependent on others — which may increase the risk of viral spread.
John Ketcham is a collegiate fellow at the Manhattan Institute and a third-year student at Harvard Law School.
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