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Faster, Maybe. Cheaper, No. But Driving Has Its Fans.

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Faster, Maybe. Cheaper, No. But Driving Has Its Fans.

By DIANE CARDWELL

NY Times

March 31, 2008

 

[float=right]31drive.jpg

Robert Caplin for The NY Times

Eugene Yates lives two blocks

from the No. 4 train but prefers

to drive from the Bronx to his

job downtown.

[/float]It was the birth of her son a year and a half ago that put Eden Matteson, 30, behind the wheel in Manhattan.

 

It is the guarantee of a plush seat that spurs Eugene Yates, 62, to steer his creamy white Jaguar to his maintenance job at a courthouse downtown.

 

And it is the ease of ferrying supplies for construction jobs to the soundtrack of his own choosing that draws Warren William, 32, to the Nissan Pathfinder that he has outfitted with a touch-screen radio and DVD player and speakers lining the doors and trunk.

 

“I really make my car comfortable,” Mr. William said as he waited for a parking space to open up on Church Street in Lower Manhattan on a rainy afternoon. “Every time I step in my car, I have my system, I have my music. I like it really nice and quiet. I like the peacefulness.”

 

In his administration’s quest to charge drivers to enter the busiest parts of Manhattan, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg has promised to greatly improve mass transit, including increased subway service and faster bus routes with high-tech systems to speed them through intersections.

 

But in a city known for crowded subway platforms and standing-room-only buses, many residents, even those with robust public transit options, remain fiercely loyal to their cars. Despite the threat of traffic jams, honking horns and the urban version of road rage, these New Yorkers choose to drive, whether to shave time off their commutes, run their errands with less hassle or have a few moments to themselves inside mobile oases.

 

[float=right]31driveb.190.jpg

Robert Caplin for The NY Times

Eden Matteson says motherhood

led her to take the wheel.[/float]

“New York is a transit-rich and transit-oriented place,” said Bruce Schaller, a transportation consultant who is now a deputy commissioner for planning and sustainability at the city’s Department of Transportation.

 

Notwithstanding the fact that 1.74 million cars are registered in the city, most New Yorkers travel by public transportation. But for that committed knot of drivers, even enhanced services may not lure them onto fancy new buses, given that, according to Mr. Schaller, 80 percent of the people who drive into Manhattan during the workday already have access to mass transit that would take no more than 15 minutes longer.

 

“Most people who are driving will continue to drive,” he said, adding that the reasons are generally convenience and speed, or having waited for a bus in the rain one too many times.

 

[float=right]31drivec.190.jpg

Robert Caplin for The NY Times

Judy Aita favors mass transit but

drives with her dog, Niles, on

weekends.[/float]Indeed, a poll conducted last year for the Partnership for New York City, a business advocacy group that has helped devise and promote the fee proposal, known as congestion pricing, found that most of those who drive do so by choice, not by necessity. As a result, congestion-pricing proponents concluded that the only way to reduce an estimated 810,000 daily vehicle trips into and below Midtown was to charge a fee.

 

The proposal, whose future is still in question as it approaches the end of a politically tortuous path through the City Council and the State Legislature, would charge most drivers $8 to enter a zone below 60th Street from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. on weekdays. Whether drivers would face a charge to move across town on 60th Street has not yet been determined.

 

In the partnership survey, the most frequent reasons given by drivers for shunning public transportation were the freedom to come and go as they liked and the ability to avoid dealing with other people. Mr. William — who lives within 10 minutes of a subway station in East Flatbush, Brooklyn, but said he drove into Manhattan below 60th Street every day — put himself in that camp, saying, “I am just really more comfortable in my car.”

 

He said that if the congestion pricing proposal went through, he would pay the fee, and simply charge his customers more to compensate.

 

Mr. Yates, too, said he would continue to drive to work despite living in the Bronx only two blocks from the No. 4 train, although he expects it will be in a Jeep once he sells the Jaguar.

 

“It’s bad enough, 10 minutes for 25 cents,” he said, feeding the meter on Third Avenue near 76th Street between stretches of shopping for a friend’s daughter at Gymboree. “Then you have to drive around and wait for parking, then you can’t double-park or they make you move.” But he puts up with all this, he said, paying $100 a week for parking, to avoid the subway.

 

“I hate standing up when I get in the train station,” he said. “Then you got to wait on the train, then the train is late, then it’s this, then it’s that. I can’t stand the hassle.”

 

For some drivers, like Ms. Matteson, who lives on City Island in the Bronx, simply getting a few more minutes of sleep is the key. “It’s just the ease,” she said, sitting in her car on Central Park West near the American Museum of Natural History as her son, Elijah, slept in the back seat.

 

“It’s just I have to wake up so much earlier now with the baby, that getting up even earlier ...” she trailed off, shuddering slightly.

 

Some New Yorkers, like George Ballina, 65, would drive all the time if there were more parking spots available. A supermarket meat department manager who lives in Bensonhurst, Brooklyn, and works in the East 20s in Manhattan, Mr. Ballina said he drove in two or three times a week but would stop if the congestion charge was approved.

 

“It gets me closer to the job,” he said, sitting in the car with his wife in Lower Manhattan. “From the train you have to walk.” In addition, he said, “it’s an hour and 15 minutes with the train and about 18 minutes with the car. Big difference.”

 

Of course, there are others who avoid driving whenever they can. “I just went to pick something up in Midtown, and I thought I was going to shoot myself,” said Judy Aita, 63, as she got out of her car on Central Park West, near where she lives. Ms. Aita said she drives mainly to take her toy poodle, Niles, with her to and from Pennsylvania on weekends, adding that she was in favor of the mayor’s plan.

 

“I just see too many people driving when there’s so much available in mass transit, and I guess people take it for granted,” she said. “I think people should just park it and take public transportation.”

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some people just can't let go of their cars, even though they live at the most convienent city in the world with stuff like subways, buses, taxis, car service, etc at their disposal and still can't let go of their cars

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I love having a car, but if the Bee-line were to run when I need it (late-late), I would take the Bee-Line 2 to the 1 train. I already done this 2 Saturdays ago. The wait for that 2 bus was long. Didn't cost me anything either. Car didn't burn any fuel. My problem is if I do this, and when I suppose to clear, I get taken for a late random, then I am a$$ed out. That is why I drive.

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some people just can't let go of their cars, even though they live at the most convienent city in the world with stuff like subways, buses, taxis, car service, etc at their disposal and still can't let go of their cars

 

Are you learning to drive yet?

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I drive (but not every day) and I find it very addicting.

 

I do it for a living, and during personal business. I hate it so much now. That is why any young woman I go out with, better know, or be willing to learn to drive. I need me a female chaperone.

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Are you learning to drive yet?

no, not yet. i live in New York City, who needs driving here when there's the subway, bus,taxi,car service,dollar vans, and daddy to drive me around?? lol

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I think no matter what NY throws at drivers, they're always going to be there.

 

I bet some people see it as a challenge, and others sit smug in their 4 wheel pollution machines think themselves "better" as they wait for the next light and gallop on to the next one in their metal steed.

 

- Andy

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no, not yet. i live in New York City, who needs driving here when there's the subway, bus,taxi,car service,dollar vans, and daddy to drive me around?? lol

 

Daddy will want you to drive him around eventually. Nothing wrong with learning, and getting the license. That does not mean one needs to buy a car. Maybe you want to go on vacation and rent a car for the weekend etc........

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Daddy will want you to drive him around eventually.
I feel your pain dawg...

 

I really hate people who drive sometimes, they really tick me off when they cut in front of the bus because they're impatient, almost causing an accident! :mad:

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