Yikes! What A Way To Go: New York City’s Travel Experience

As long as man has been around, he has always found a way to transport himself and the things that he needs from one location to another. Transportation is essential to trade and travel, whether we live in a big city or a small town, U.S.A. We entrust our livelihood, our food supply and even our social lives to it. The wheel and combustible engine were 2 of man’s most important technological developments. We are heavily dependent on them still to go from one destination to the other.

New York State plays a key role in the nation’s economy. For this reason, millions travel to New York using its transportation system when they get there to access employment and financial opportunities.

Here is a perfect example:

For the millions of commuters who travel daily to access business and investment opportunities, rush hour is a frightening scenario as key roadways and bridges are jam-packed with cars, trucks, motorcycles and buses, inching their way through bumper to bumper traffic. The overwhelming congestion of vehicles and passengers snakes everywhere. It can often take an aggravating hour or two to get to one place in just one borough.

Millions of motorists dread this daily commute while many are resigned to accept gridlock as a way of life. One can definitely say that the time that angry and frustrated motorists spend in traffic congestion has tripled or quadrupled over the years. Not to mention the gas that is wasted and the damage that is inflicted on our environment from vehicle emissions. Wasted fuel consumption resulting from the congestion of traffic has put most of its commuters in financial turmoil, many of whom are already struggling over ballooning home and healthcare costs.

Let’s not forget to mention the subway. Train after train rumble their way into the station to be welcomed by an interminable barrier of commuters lined up on the platform. The crush of commuters make a mad dash to the train, pushing and elbowing their way. After a few seconds the train doors slam shut, leaving the unlucky ones behind. Some frustrated passengers fly, trying to push the doors open j-u-s-t far enough to wriggle their way inside before the train begins to move. If the train is a local it will continue to stop and pick up more passengers along the way, thus intensifying the unbearable crowding. Ill-humored, standing passengers are crushed together like sardines in a tin can with no room to fall if the train should suddenly stop.

This situation exists year-round as New Yorkers and tourists swarm about, seeking out beaches, parks and other recreational areas looking for a way to unwind. Here and there, stranded motorists along the highway stand beside their cars in the sweltering, dizzying heat, worsening the weekend obstruction filled with thrill seekers. Once the transfer of vehicles takes place, desperate motorists fly away. They frantically search for a gas station, only to find themselves once again trapped in an enormous column of 50 to 100 cars inching their way to the pumps hoping that the gas won’t run out.

Even the air is congested with airplanes, departing and arriving in near collisions over populated areas. Everywhere there is congestion, clustered merging traffic entering airports from main arteries often causing passengers to report late for their flights. Fliers are getting fed up with the spiraling air fares and poor quality of service. They are totally disgusted with long lines at the check in, security, flight delays and incompetent baggage handling. As for finding your luggage… good luck! The worst part of traveling by air are the cancellations due to bad weather conditions, the grounding of airplanes with faulty wiring or other safety hazards leaving thousands of travelers stranded. If the frazzled flier is dissatisfied, imagine the unhappy investors agonizing over sagging profits. Many passengers are forced to turn to ground travel to get to their destination within the country. The railways and buses are all struggling to cope with more travelers than their carrying capacity. All forms of transport rely on fuel, which is being consumed at an alarming rate. The rising price of fuel will raise fares and create a reduction in air and surface travel, forcing many to adjust their current lifestyles in anticipation of the coming shortages.

The Federal Government as well as State and local Officials are frustrated as they try to find solutions and accommodate the increasing demands of traffic, whether on local streets or highways. Many of the roads and bridges that were built years ago have aged to the point of needing major repairs or complete replacement, taking priority over any newly suggested road project. New York State has been urged to adopt a “fix-it first” approach to protect its transportation assets. The overwhelming costs of eliminating traffic congestion at hundreds of stressed areas throughout the state only adds more of a burden to financially strained budgets and to the taxpayer’s dilemma.

Almost everything we use and eat is transported by truck or train, both of which depend on abundant supplies of cheap diesel fuel. As gas and diesel fuel prices continue to climb, the price of everything will increase accordingly. All food supplies and products that are transported from a distance become far more expensive due to the increased cost of transporting them. Eventually this situation will create changes in people’s eating habits and add to mass unemployment.

New Yorkers and the entire nation love to drive their own cars instead of using public transportation, even though New York is perhaps the most public transit-rich city in the United States. Between the cost of insurance, maintenance, tolls, gas consumption and depreciation, driving a car would not necessarily be cheaper, nevertheless, to a motorist, a car represents independence.

New York City’s traffic congestion is already in an intolerable state; just imagine what an additional million cars will do.

The New York City Advisory Panel recently convened and came to the conclusion that if mass changes are not made to the New York City transportation system and soon, the infrastructure of the state is in deep trouble, the state economy will collapse and New York Citizens will see a serious decrease in their quality of life, all because there is too much congestion, too much gas is being consumed, and the transportation system itself is completely uncoordinated. Agencies must be consolidated to be more efficient, the infrastructure of roads must be replaced, and funding must be found to pay for all of this. The problem is, they really have no idea as to a solution to this huge problem.

As for public transportation, not a day goes by, in which there isn’t some mention that the trains and buses are never on time. They constantly break down, leaving transit riders distressed. Let’s face it, we are in a national crisis, gasoline and diesel is freely available for now, but is becoming more and more expensive by the day. If prices keep spiraling, people will not be able to drive. If people can’t drive they won’t be able to work. This will affect the overall American economy.

“Under these conditions, affluent people are going to buy downsized hybrids and the rest of us will probably have to fall back on public transportation as the most energy efficient (that is, least expensive) way to get from Point A to point B.”

It is obvious that the transportation problem in New York is not destined to find a permanent solution. Now that we have a clearer picture of the current transportation crisis and the greater one forthcoming, let’s take a backward glance at New York City’s public travel history as it transpired over the last few centuries, evolving inevitably into what it is today. In order to enlighten you on this subject matter, I have researched and compiled a list of selected historical facts which are documented regarding the development and growth of public transportation and its infrastructure. I have arranged the entries chronologically. Please note that the growth of the city during the twentieth century has been phenomenal. Manhattan, the most popular borough, has always been the financial center of the United States. This is where the greatest passenger traffic movement originates, develops and is distributed to the neighboring boroughs. This is where the overwhelming congestion of vehicles moves everywhere and at the same time nowhere, strangled within the narrow, confined limits of the island, thus creating transportation problems far too difficult to solve. Through this chronology you will observe how city officials keep making every effort possible to accommodate the demanding outcries of the populace for an improved transportation system.

I hope, this list will prove grist for the mill of your curious mind. At least, it should give you something to think about while you’re stuck in traffic!