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New York car ownership jumps nearly 40% as pandemic creates mass transit worries

At the end of the day, it's safer to have a personal vehicle amid the coronavirus pandemic, but it creates a slew of new woes locally.

NYC Traffic
More cars leads to far less parking.
Drew Angerer/Getty Images
For the most up-to-date news and information about the coronavirus pandemic, visit the WHO and CDC websites.

When the coronavirus pandemic first started to take shape early last year, it posed questions for the automotive industry and future trends. Would mass transit take a hit as individuals opt for personal transportation? Would car sales boom in the following years? We don't have clear answers yet, but a snapshot of data at least gives us some indication of the pandemic's affect in the near-term.

According to a report from the New York Times, citing data from the Department of Motor Vehicles, car registrations jumped 37% between August and October of last year in New York. You know, the city that was famed for congestion and vehicle traffic even before the pandemic. The 37% rise includes the boroughs of Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens and the Bronx, but breaking the data out shows an even more intriguing picture.

In Manhattan alone, new car registrations rose 76% and in Brooklyn, registrations climbed 45%. That's a serious amount of new vehicles roaming around tight city streets, and the Times report highlighted the problem that brings with available parking spaces. With more cars, parking quickly started to vanish, especially as city authorities began converting streets, parking lots and other areas into large outdoor dining spaces to try and compensate for tight restrictions on indoor dining.

On the flip side, proponents for more mass transit and cycling lanes underscored now is the time to fix the problem for good as we hopefully begin to put the pandemic in the rearview this year. Additional cycling lanes and room for other forms of transport can allow people to move more freely throughout the city. But advocates will still need to convince the thousands of new local vehicles owners first.

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