Report: New York is a transit leader and a congestion leader, too

Tappan Zee, one of New York's 'functionally obsolete' bridges. (jmd41280 via Flickr)
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Here's the good news: Residents of New York State use mass transit way more than other metropolitan areas, drivers in New York wear seatbelts, New York highways are relatively safe, and foreigners like to visit.

The bad news: New Yorkers have the nation's second-longest commute and rely lots of "functionally obsolete" bridges, and New York's airports have punctuality issues, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation's ninth annual compendium of state transportation statistics, released Friday.

As usual, New York State ranked number one in transit ridership, and is home to the most heavily used Amtrak station in the country, Penn Station, which last year served nearly 9 million passengers.

On New York's highways there were six fatalities for every 100,000 people in 2010, compared to 22 in Mississippi and 27 in Wyoming. That's the third-lowest fatality rate, tied with Rhode Island and New Jersey. 

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Maybe that's because lots of drivers in New York wear their seatbelts, with 90 percent of front-seat riders wearing them in 2010, compared to 81 percent in Mississippi and 79 percent in Wyoming.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg spent much of 2011 touting New York City's healthy tourism industry, and its popularity with visitors from overseas. The numbers would seem to back him up. 

New York State ranked number one as a destination for overseas visitors in 2011, with 9.5 million visitors, a 34 percent share of the U.S. total. That represents an increase over 2010, when New York attracted 8.6 million overseas visitors.

Now, for the bad news.

In 2010, it took the average New Yorker 31.3 minutes to get to work. That was second only to Maryland, which averages 31.8 minutes. From a commuting perspective, it's far better to live in North Dakota, where the average commute is a mere 16.1 minutes.  

Related, New York doesn't fare so well in the traffic congestion category. The metropolitan area ranking fifth worst with 54 hours of delay per commuter. Washington, D.C. ranks the worst, with 74 hours per commuter.

And those long, congested commutes? They're often over obsolete bridges.

Of New York’s 17,384 bridges, 12 percent were rated "structurally deficient" last year, and 24.9 percent are "functionally obsolete," a term that D.O.T. applies to a bridge when "it does not meet current design standards, either because the volume of traffic carried by the bridge exceeds the level anticipated when the bridge was constructed and/or the relevant design standards have been revised." 

Only D.C., Hawaii, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Rhode Island have a higher percentage of "functionally obsolete bridges."

And New York-area airports have punctuality issues.

U.S. airports have an average on-time arrival performance of 79.6 percent. JFK had an on-time percentage of 75.3; LaGuardia's was 72.2; and Newark's was a paltry 66.7.

Read the whole report here.