Frumination asks what would Manhattan’s central business district – 60th street and south – look like if there were no subway and all commuters came to the city by car? He did the math and the geography and … well, it’s not pretty. Here is the daily capacity -
from 8:00AM to 8:59 AM on an average Fall day in 2007 the NYC Subway carried 388,802 passengers into the CBD on 370 trains over 22 tracks. In other words, a train carrying 1,050 people crossed into the CBD every 6 seconds.
At best, it would take 167 inbound lanes, or 42 copies of the Queens Midtown Tunnel, to carry what the NYC Subway carries over 22 inbound tracks through 12 tunnels and 2 (partial) bridges. At worst, 200 new copies of 5th Avenue. Somewhere in the middle would be 67 West Side Highways or 76 Brooklyn Bridges. And this neglects the Long Island Railroad, Metro North, NJ Transit, and PATH systems entirely.
The map above is a sketch of the additional parking space and bridges and tunnels that would be required to pull it off. No doubt there are lunatics out there that will interpret this interesting study as a beneficial proposal and will try to implement it – like the crackpot airport scheme.
Now for a bit of editorializing. This quick study speaks volumes about what energy and space and infrastructure hogs cars are. I like cars but everything in moderation. In a sense the author is taking Manhattan and asking what it would be like if it were LA, or nearly every other American ‘city.’ I think it’s time to start talking about how the form of the city – dense vs sprawl – affects energy consumption patterns. Taken seriously, mass transit vs car transport has an enormous impact on the environment and on per capita energy consumption – an impact almost noone is talking about.
I found this on kottke.org.