STUDIO | 2023-2024
Shifting Gears: Transitioning to a Car-Light New York City

In a year-long seminar led by Adjunct Lecturer Ryan Russo, former Oakland DOT and NYCDOT Commissioner and Incoming Executive Director at the National Association of City Transportation Officials, Hunter College Urban Planning graduate students recommended a framework  they argue the city and state should use to equitably plan a future that is less dependent on cars. Based upon in depth analysis of the current state of car ownership in New York City, their final report presents a comprehensive set of strategies designed to foster a streamlined, equitable approach to reducing vehicle ownership in New York City. In it, they make the case for policies that would equitably lower the number of households who choose to own cars, which the students believe will unlock comprehensive quality of life benefits to city residents. 

The students also worked to outline the existing state of vehicle ownership in New York City using land-use and transportation platform Replica, and techniques including public surveys, canvassing, and data and GIS work. Their findings highlight the immense number of cars across the city and provide compelling insight on the demographics of current vehicle owners.  

  • Out of the 2,400 total vehicles canvassed on residential streets overnight, 18% (426 vehicles) had out-of-state license plates. This is nearly double what a survey in 1987 found. 
  • If New York City were to meter public parking at the rate of private garages, it would generate $12.3 billion. 
  • Our survey of over 400 New Yorkers found that of the non-car owners, 50% cited parking as a reason they did not own a vehicle
  • Although only 45% of NYC households have a vehicle, since households with a vehicle are larger than non-vehicle-owning households, approximately 54% of New Yorkers live in a household with a vehicle. This means the majority of New Yorkers live in a household with a vehicle!

Building upon their findings about vehicle ownership patterns in New York City, they organized their recommendations into five Objectives and nineteen strategies. The objectives proposed in their report are: 

  • Implementing paid parking systems: In order for city residents to fully realize the true impact and subsidy of free parking, the value of parking as an asset needs to be regulated so that it can be efficiently managed and priced appropriately by supply and demand.
  1. Right-sizing the curb:To optimize the utilization of curb space in New York City, we recommend that the DOT improve curb data, and prioritize curb reallocation to neighborhoods based on current regulations and land use, transit and socioeconomic factors. 
  1. Centering concerns of car owners: Effective communication is crucial in counteractive negative narratives and emphasizing financial incentives provided directly to those affected, creating a relationship where everyone understands how they can gain from these changes.
  1. Restructuring vehicle ownership fees: The DMV should restructure vehicle fees to reflect the true cost of car ownership.  

Incentivizing car free living: Provide better options and outcomes for those New Yorkers who either don’t own a vehicle or who have elected to no longer be a car-owner, such as required car free developments where residents must pledge to not owning vehicles.

Read the full PDF report here.

At a Glance
NYC Department of Transportation
Ryan Russo
Adam Trimboli
Arjit Dhillon
Arturo Moreno
Ben Tolles
Danielle Gartenberg
David Boloyan
Heaven Ortiz
Jordan Engel
Jordan Schieber
Medwin Fontin
Ray Seller
Schayne Fox
Yujia Hu