UPPER EAST SIDE, Manhattan — Traffic counts are already showing 2021 has been a busier and more congested year, and with the holidays approaching, one not-so-exciting reality is also on the way: gridlock.
Gridlock Alert Days, in particular, are common during the holiday season, when more visitors travel to the city. And as festive lights cover the city, drivers won’t find a lot of joy in a different set of lights beaming: the red brake lights of the car in front of them.
“It’s too much traffic,” one frustrated driver said.
The City Department of Transportation classified Thursday and Friday as Gridlock Alert Days. Three days next week are also going to have that distinction.
But it’s not just the roads: The MTA said its seeing 3.4 million subway riders and 1.4 million bus riders weekly. Travel on Metro-North and the Long Island Rail Road is also up. With more riders on the roads as well, transportation engineer Matt Carmody said the definition of “rush hour” has changed. He calls it “peak spreading.”
“People are getting out in late morning and early afternoon in numbers, in their cars, and we’ve never seen it before,” he said.
This year, Carmody’s firm and StreetLight Data, a mobility analysis company, studied travel around the metro area. They found it is busier during longer, extended periods.
He said it will continue as companies offer hybrid options.