Traffic between NYC, NJ returning to pre-COVID levels, but transit lags

Vehicle traffic between New Jersey and New York City is approaching pre-pandemic levels while public transit ridership continues to lag, according to numbers released Wednesday by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey that reflect a regional trend.

Overall traffic at the Port Authority's four bridges and the Lincoln and Holland tunnels was down about 2% last month compared to June 2019, with truck traffic showing a 7% increase. Crossings at the George Washington Bridge, the heaviest-traveled span, dipped from January to February this year then rose more than 35% through May.

However, ridership on PATH trains still remains well below its pre-pandemic numbers, with just 2.6 million riders in June 2021, down 64% from June 2019 and 11.2 million riders between January and June of 2021, down 72.5% from the same period in 2019.

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New York’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority has reported similar trends in recent months as subway and bus ridership remains below 50% of pre-pandemic levels. Officials are concerned that public transit ridership may not rebound for years due to concerns over the coronavirus and more people being able to work from home, and that that could lead to increasing gridlock.

With the agency still forecasting that it will be running a deficit, even with billions in federal aid, the MTA has said that fare hikes will likely be implemented in 2023, while congestion pricing is likely on the way soon as well. 

While Americans have slowly been returning to air travel as lockdown restrictions have been lifted across the nation, passenger numbers there are also well below their pre-pandemic totals. The total combined number of passengers at JFK Airport, Newark Liberty International Airport and LaGuardia Airport was just 25.7 million, down 62% compared to the first six months of 2019.

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The ports that make up the Port of New York and New Jersey complex continued to handle high cargo volumes and have now had 11 consecutive months of growth, according to the Port Authority. They set an all-time container record in June with roughly 750,000 20-foot equivalent units handled.

With the Associated Press.