Press Release

For immediate release: Monday, August 7, 2006

Contact: Kate Slevin, Jon Orcutt
Tri-State Transportation Campaign


Poll: New Yorkers Talk Traffic,

See Bloomberg in the Slow Lane

In New Tri-State Transportation Campaign Survey, New Yorkers Rate
Mayor Bloomberg’s Job Performance Addressing City Transportation Issues
And The Impact of Traffic Congestion on Quality of Life


New York, August 7, 2006 — In assessing Mayor Bloomberg’s response to traffic congestion, 59% of New Yorkers say the mayor is doing only a “fair” to “poor” job of reducing traffic jams and delays on city streets, highways and bridges. On only one other issue, increasing the stock of affordable housing, does the Mayor receive a higher net negative rating (60%). Mayor Bloomberg receives the highest net positive marks for keeping parks clean and safe (63%) and reducing crime (57%).

These findings come from a random telephone survey of 800 New York City residents in the five boroughs conducted May 19 through June 4, 2006, by Michaels Opinion Research, a New York City-based public opinion research firm. For the survey, respondents rated Mayor Bloomberg’s performance across a range of public issues and were asked about a variety of city transportation matters.

“The daily grind of gridlock and its impact rarely makes headlines, but the survey results show that New Yorkers have strong opinions about the problem and expect more action from Mayor Bloomberg to solve it,” said Maureen Michaels, president of Michaels Opinion Research.

Discontent with the Mayor’s performance on traffic congestion cuts across most segments of the city’s population, but residents of Staten Island appear especially angry about traffic jams and delays – 82% give an overall negative rating to the mayor, despite his announcement of a new transportation plan for the borough this spring.

Non-Vehicle Owners Are Also Frustrated With The Mayor’s Performance

While 62% of motor vehicle owners give the Mayor a negative rating on reducing traffic jams and delays throughout the city, non-vehicle owners are not satisfied with his performance either (56% negative), nor are those who drive to work (70% negative).

Dissatisfaction with the Mayor’s performance on traffic issues also cuts across age and income groups, though a solid third of middle and upper income residents give intensely negative ratings (33%-36% rate the job he is doing on traffic issues as “poor”).

And among the working population, 59% of those who work below 60th Street in Manhattan and 67% of those working outside Manhattan say the Mayor has done, at best, a fair-to-poor job reducing traffic on city streets, highways and bridges.

“Let’s face it – the Bloomberg administration has accomplished next to nothing on traffic problems since taking office. A few potentially promising initiatives, like speeding buses through traffic and enforcing truck routes, seem stuck as endless studies,” said Kate Slevin, associate director of the Tri-State Transportation Campaign, sponsor of the survey project.

Transportation Issues Concern Significant Numbers of City Residents

More than three-fourths of New Yorkers (79%) consider traffic jams on city streets to be a problem, including 53% who consider it a “major problem.” And fully half (50%) believe traffic congestion in Manhattan on a normal workday is unacceptable.

Not surprisingly, those who drive to work are among those most likely to say traffic congestion in Manhattan is unacceptable (57%), but even those who use public transportation strongly share this view(50%).

Overcrowding on subways and buses is also considered a significant problem by New Yorkers, with younger adults (60%) and those traveling to work on public transportation most likely to express this view (56%).

In addition, seven-in-10 New Yorkers cite truck traffic (73%), the condition of roads and bridges (71%), and unsafe conditions for pedestrians from cars and trucks (70%) as major or moderate problems for the city.

Truck traffic is judged as an especially acute problem by those who use their own vehicles to travel to work (53%).

And Manhattan residents are more likely than residents of other boroughs to consider unsafe conditions for bicyclists a major problem (43%).

A third of New Yorkers also contend that slow moving public buses are a significant problem. Notably, those who are especially likely to consider slow moving buses a “major” traffic-related problem are city residents in their 40s and 50s (40%-46%) and New Yorkers who work in Manhattan above 60th Street (62%).

New Yorkers Also Identify A Range of Traffic-Related Problems That Plague Their Neighborhoods

Traffic noise is an especially acute problem for Manhattan (66%) and Bronx (60%) residents. And 50% citywide say their neighborhoods suffer from pollution from traffic, with Manhattan residents most likely to make this report (63%).

Speeding is also a frequently cited neighborhood problem for New Yorkers (55%), but less often among those living in Manhattan (44%).

Traffic jams and dangerous conditions for pedestrians and bicyclists are each cited by about 45% of New Yorkers as neighborhood problems. Residents of Manhattan and the Bronx are even more concerned about unsafe conditions for pedestrians and bicyclists, with 53% and 51%, respectively, saying this is a problem. Manhattan residents are especially likely to report traffic jams as a problem in their neighborhoods (56%).

In light of the traffic-related concerns expressed by city residents in this survey, and the poor performance ratings Mayor Bloomberg receives on reducing traffic congestion, it is not surprising that some influential New Yorkers think the city’s transportation and planning agencies are not up to the task of improving traffic conditions in the city. A recent letter from two dozen Brooklyn civic leaders to Mayor Bloomberg pointed to a long list of failed transportation initiatives, and urged the mayor to make institutional changes if that is what it takes to change the city’s under-performance on transportation.

“The so-called ‘greatest city in the world’ doesn’t even have decently-paved streets, let alone cutting edge transportation features like bus rapid transit, neighborhood traffic calming plans or bicycle-friendly avenues,” said Tri-State Transportation Campaign executive director Jon Orcutt. “It may be time to consider planning and transportation policy as Board of Education-type problems, where a top-to-bottom overhaul of city agencies is needed.”

More detail and graphs on the survey findings are contained in a report accompanying this release.

About The Survey:

The public opinion data reported in this study are the result of a random and representative telephone survey conducted May 19 through June 4, 2006, with 800 New York City residents, 18 years of age and older. Sample distribution includes proportional representation across all five boroughs.

Interviewing was conducted from a central telephone facility utilizing a random-digit-dial (RDD) sampling methodology to ensure that both listed and unlisted telephone numbers were included. The questionnaire was administered in Spanish for non-English speaking Hispanic residents.

Final data were weighted using demographic information from the US Census Bureau to adjust for sampling and other non-sampling deviations from population distributions. Weights were assigned so the proportion in cells for borough, age, and race/ethnicity reflects the actual New York City adult population according to the US Census Bureau's most recent data.

For total sample results based on weighted data from 800 completed telephone interviews, the margin of error calculated at the 95 percent confidence level is ±3.5 percentage points.

The Tri-State Transportation Campaign is an independent, non-profit policy and advocacy group promoting environment-friendly transportation policies in the New York metropolitan region.

Michaels Opinion Research, Inc., is a New York City-based public opinion research and consulting firm.