Known as ‘The City That Never Sleeps,’ New York City is a whirl of energy and reinvention, a magnet for creativity, talent, innovation
As part of this research, we asked over 1,000 New Yorkers for their views on the city’s infrastructure and their ambitions for its future evolution. We found that while New Yorkers are proud of their city’s resilience and appreciate the reliability of its utilities and affordability of its mass transit, they require further improvements and advancements.
We live and work here, so we get it. AECOM has extensive experience delivering iconic projects throughout the New York metropolitan area. Addressing these challenges won’t be easy, but our network of planners, designers, engineers
Senior Vice President and Chief of Strategy and Business Development, New York Metro, AECOM
Long a magnet for the world’s best and brightest, New York is a true global city, one of only two cities to achieve the Alpha ++ ranking, and first in the Global Cities Index, driven by its strong performance in business activity and human capital. In the 21st century, the long-time powerhouse of banking, commerce and culture has quickly added international tourist destination and technology hub to its CV. With over eight million New York City residents, 800,000 daily commuters from the surrounding metropolitan area, almost 14 million international visitors annually, and an influx of new tech talent expected, New York City’s growth has outpaced its infrastructure.
New York City’s mass transit and road systems were designed decades ago for a populace that worked, played and lived differently. Construction booms, e-commerce and housing scarcity are all putting further pressure on transit systems as people and materials travel farther to their destinations each day. And political and environmental events are changing what is required from man-made structures. NYC’s infrastructure helped it become ‘The City That Never Sleeps’; now it’s time to ensure that its infrastructure can sustain the growth the city’s success has reaped.
In collaboration with Longitude — a Financial Times Company, AECOM’s Future of Infrastructure research harnesses survey data and opinions from over 10,000 infrastructure users in 10 major global cities, including New York to ask how satisfied, safe, inspired and engaged people feel with their roads and bridges, rail services and utilities.
New Yorkers are known to be passionate people with a variety of different opinions, so it’s no surprise to learn that they have definitive thoughts about their city. New Yorkers take great civic pride in the resiliency shown in the face of recent natural and man-made threats to their hometown, and appreciate the comparative affordability of the city’s transit systems and utilities. Still, many New Yorkers are impatient with the perceived slow pace at which innovations are adopted into their aging systems, and would like to see their city remain remarkably innovative.
Of those surveyed, 67% feel the private sector should be more involved in the development of infrastructure.
While respondents only give transportation reliability an index score of 5.9 (lower than Hong Kong’s and London’s matching scores of 6.5, but ahead of Toronto’s 5.6), for the most part those surveyed do feel that, despite recent delays, public transportation gets them where they need to go, with 86% stating it is ‘acceptable’ or ‘good’ or ‘excellent.’
While 48% of respondents are not willing to pay higher fares, 41% of those surveyed would be willing to pay higher taxes to fund improvements in infrastructure.
In terms of roads and bridges, however, roughly one-third of residents in New York — as well as in Los Angeles, Toronto, London and Sydney — say these infrastructure elements are getting worse, explaining why roads are viewed as the first or second priority for infrastructure improvements in all of these cities.
“We’re going to continue to innovate and use technology to give our customers more options, convenience and ability to control their costs.” – Timothy P. Cawley, President of Consolidated Edison
Overall, New York residents ranked fast rail connections to the airport third after solar power and fiber-optic broadband in terms of its impact on their quality of life. But this technology was viewed as particularly important by middle and upper income respondents, who identified it as the number one technology out of the 11 listed.
This aligns with the importance all New Yorkers surveyed place on public transportation in general. When asked about infrastructure improvements, respondents identified upgrading public transportation as their priority for the future, with enabling new forms of public transportation coming in sixth on the list.
“In the last century, the Port Authority was on the cutting edge of technology when it physically connected New Jersey to New York under the Hudson River. In the 21st century, connections are digital as well as physical - from cell service to free Wi-Fi...” - Kevin O'Toole, Chairman of the PANYNJ and Rick Cotton, Executive Director
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Some 40% of New Yorkers surveyed are confident in the city government’s ability to protect infrastructure from natural disasters; 49% are confident in the city government’s ability to protect infrastructure from terrorism; and while 43% of respondents have been informed of drills or exercises to help prepare their city for emergency situations, 34% have not.
“As we have seen time and time again, our subway system is impacted by the forces of nature. Just as our employees work around the clock to clean up after a storm, we must also proactively protect our infrastructure.” - New York City Transit, President Andy Byford
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