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Along Woodhaven Boulevard, Long Commutes and Low Wages

Photo credit: BRT for NYC


SHARE THISAlong the Woodhaven/Cross Bay bus corridor in Queens, longer commute times are associated with higher poverty levels.
SHARE THISTransportation deserts limit access to jobs, education, and health care, increasing income inequality and is detrimental to an individual’s quality of life.
SHARE THIS15% of Woodhaven corridor residents live below the poverty line and nearly 30% commute more than an hour.


A new study from the BRT for NYC coalition—a group of New York City business organizations, rider advocates, and labor unions that support bus rapid transit (BRT)—finds that along the Woodhaven/Cross Bay bus corridor in Queens, longer commute times are consistently associated with higher poverty levels. This finding reinforces a critical reason for The Rockefeller Foundation’s support for more sustainable, equitable transportation systems in the United States—and specifically, the Foundation’s support for a potential BRT solution currently under development by New York City for Queens residents living along Woodhaven and Cross Bay Boulevards.

The BRT for NYC study, based on a recent Transportation Alternatives analysis, found that at least 86,598 people along the Woodhaven/Cross Bay corridor live below the poverty level, and at least 59,781 people have a commute greater than 60 minutes. In some areas along the corridor, more than 15 percent of the population lives below the poverty line, according to recent Census figures. Nearly 30 percent of the population commutes more than an hour, and of those, 28 percent have commutes longer than 90 minutes. These statistics illustrate failures in the transportation options provided to these disproportionately impoverished communities. Transportation deserts, like the one in Queens, limit access to jobs, education, and health care, which increases income inequality and is detrimental to an individual’s quality of life.

This challenge is not unique to Queens. Cities across the globe are exploring new ways to improve public transportation to better serve communities. Bus rapid transit is an effective option that has caught on, particularly in times of limited budgets. BRT delivers the benefits of a rail or subway system for a fraction of the cost. BRT systems have proven successful in a number of major cities around the world.  Bogota, Colombia; Mexico City, Mexico; and Curitiba, Brazil have all implemented BRT routes that seamlessly move traffic along busy corridors, reduce traffic congestion, and allow a safer, more reliable commute for residents. These transportation systems have made for more inclusive economies, fostered stronger communities, and have improved the quality of life for people living in previously underserved areas.

In NYC, BRT could help ensure that more residents have access to quality transportation. The proposed BRT project for Woodhaven Boulevard in Queens has the potential to be groundbreaking for the city, giving transit-starved neighborhoods outside Manhattan access to high-quality transportation that opens opportunities to education, healthcare, and employment.

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