Research Transit and Infrastructure

Growth or Gridlock: The Economic Case for Traffic Relief and Transit Improvement for a Greater New York

December 2006


On its current course, New York City is forecast to add a million more residents and 750,000 new jobs over the next 25 years. During the same period, Manhattan-bound traffic is projected to increase by at least 20%, which would bring the city and the Metro Region to a standstill.

With the release of this report, the Partnership for New York City begins to identify the destructive effects that traffic congestion has on the economy of the city and the region. Research and analysis conducted for this report have generated new evidence that traffic congestion can no longer be dismissed as an inconvenience. Nor is it solely a threat to public health and the environment. Traffic has become a significant drag on the city and regional economy, prompting the business community to take up the issue.

The Partnership released released updated reports on congestion, its impacts and congestion pricing in 2016 and 2018.


Businesses and consumers incur more than $13 billion in annual costs as a result of severely overcrowded conditions on the region’s streets and highways.


of the delay New Yorkers experience in traffic is caused by wasteful or “excess congestion."

Report Highlights

The cost burden resulting from traffic congestion is borne by commuters and select industries, among others.

The delay to commuters, workers and other travelers result in annual costs of $5.0 billion – $6.5 billion in lost time and productivity

Excess congestion costs the retail trade, restaurants, health care and social services, construction, manufacturing, wholesale trade, taxicabs, financial and professional services, service and repair, and for-hire trucking industries $4.6 billion in lost revenue.

Key Takeaways

While the Partnership’s work to understand congestion and congestion relief options provides only a partial analysis of the economic impact of excess congestion, it provides sufficient empirical data and analysis to justify a request to the U.S. Department of Transportation for a grant to New York City to carry out a feasibility study of congestion relief options for the New York Metro Region.