The Oil Drum: New York City

Helping New Yorkers understand, prepare and adapt to the implications of Peak Oil

Sunday, August 07, 2005

Estimating NYC's Gas Bill

(Map - Population Density)

I found some interesting car statistics on the NY DMV website on the number of registered passenger vehicles by county. Here's what we have for NYC in 2003:

Total Cars By Borough
Queens 639,849
Brooklyn 362,289
Staten Island 236,989

Manhattan 215,521
Bronx 215,300
NYC Total 1,669,948

I was surprised that Queens had so many more cars than Brooklyn, but I wasn't surprised to see my home borough of Staten Island above Manhattan and the Bronx despite having less than 1/3 their population.. Looking at this on a per capita basis, you can see which boroughs are more dense urban areas with very good mass transit access, versus less dense (in some parts suburban) areas with less mass transit access:

Per Capita Cars By Borough
Staten Island 0.512
Queens 0.286
Bronx 0.158
Brooklyn 0.146
Manhattan 0.138
NYC Average 0.206

This shows that Staten Island and Queens, the least densely populated areas of the city are the most reliant on cars for transportation in the city. I'll look for the numbers later, but I'm guessing that Long Island, Westchester, Connecticut and Northern NJ have even higher rates of cars per capita than Staten Island.

I couldn't find any numbers on how many miles the average NYC car drives in a given year, but let us assume that each of these cars travels 5,000 miles (conservative) and gets 15 mpg (also conservative considering city driving!). That's 333.33 gallons of gas a year for each of the city's 1.67 million cars, or 556.6 million gallons of gas collectively. At $1.50/gallon gas prices, the city's collective gas bill is $835m. Assuming that most of the demand is inelastic due to lack of transportation alternatives, at $2.50 the gas bill goes to $1.4 Billion, at $4/gallon the bill would be $2.23 Billion.

Each incremental dollar that is spent on gas comes at the expense of money that could be spent in the local economy. The city's transportation goal should be to reduce the overall dependence on the car for everyday transportation and reduce our dependence on oil products to fuel those cars.

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At 11:22 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

it is time to have a cargo car on all MTA trains for the easy transport of Bicycles into and out of the city.

At 10:47 AM, Blogger Public Takeover said...

Terrific post. This is the kind of nuts and bolts statistical information that clearly and brightly outlines the grim facts of automobile usage in America.

The costs, indirectly, have been staggering, but they are going to be directly staggering very soon if we don't wake up and get organized around conserving energy and redesigning our transportation system.

Thanks for doing the homework.

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