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NYC subway tops U.S. cities for most sustainable transit system

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NYC fares poorly compared to major cities across the world however

Via William Perugini/Shutterstock

Despite its myriad subway problems, New York City still tops cities nationwide in terms of having the most sustainable transportation system, according to a new study conducted by the global consultancy firm Arcadis, as part of its first ever Arcadis Sustainable Cities Mobility Index.

When compared to other major cities across the world however, New York City didn’t even manage a spot in the top 20. So how exactly does Arcadis account for sustainability? As part of their study, they considered three factors: People, Planet, and Profit. The first looks at how a transit system impacts the quality of life for people in that city, the second examines the environmental impacts of that system, and the third looks at the efficiency of the system to generate economic growth.

Other metrics Arcadis examined as part of its study included improvements to the transit system, access to multiple modes of transport (like biking, walking, etc.), commuting times, affordability, internet connectivity, and digital mapping and payment tools.

Where NYC excelled compared to other U.S. cities was in its level of affordability, on its increased access to the internet, its 24/7 service, its comparatively low number of transit-related fatalities, and its higher percentage of use of public transport vs. private vehicles, according to Arcadis.

However factors that led to it being placed 23rd on the global list include its poor financial performance, the high rate of congestion, the lack of accessibility outside of Manhattan, and the fact that the creation of low emission zones are still in the study phase.

Regardless, commuters the New York Post interviewed were dumbfounded over NYC topping the list nationwide. In recent weeks, news has emerged that subway delays cost commuters about $846K each day, and how commuters collectively spend 35,000 each day waiting on delayed trains.

Globally, Hong Kong emerged on top with the most sustainable transit system in the world, followed by Zurich and Paris. Unsurprisingly Europe dominated the top 20, and North America faired poorly due to its reliance on cars, according to Arcadis.