Daily Archives: August 12, 2009

Manhattan Without Subways?

Twenty-two subway lines enter downtown (south of 60th street) Manhattan. According to the Metropolitan Transportation Council (New York’s MPO), these subway lines carried some 400,000 people into downtown between 8 and 9 am on a typical day in 2007 (open the “rec sec” sheet of the Subway data sheet).

A blogger asks, “what would it take in terms of auto facilities to replace the morning rush hour carrying capacity of the NYC subway?” He concludes it would take a minimum of 167 new lanes of bridges, tunnels, or other highways into downtown Manhattan. But there are several alternative views of his calculations.

He assumes that the only alternative to subways is autos. But what about buses? Many 40-foot buses can carry 64 passengers (42 sitting, 22 standing, which means a higher proportion sitting than on a subway). Spaced five bus lengths apart, 11 buses per minute can cruise down a highway lane carrying more than 42,000 people per hour. That means fewer than 10 new lanes would be needed to carry the people now taking subways — and those 10 lanes would take up a lot less space than the 22 subway lines.

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