Mayor de Blasio’s newest rationale for his deal to shutter the horse-carriage stables in the West 50s is that it will alleviate traffic congestion in Midtown. At an MLK Day event yesterday in Brooklyn, the mayor told reporters:
The value we’re getting here for the people is to address the congestion issue, again when the horses are coming from the West Side to Central Park, to address the congestion issue along all the routes that the horse carriages ply, to address the safety issue, because there have been a number of crashes. I think it’s a good long-term investment to get the horses off the streets.
Yet carriage traffic on the streets between the stables and Central Park now makes up such a tiny share of overall vehicle travel that eliminating it would barely register on the traffic meter. There are a mere 68 carriages, and each travels around five miles a day (that figure assumes that each carriage makes one to two 3.2-mile round trips daily between its stable and the park). Total daily carriage-miles traveled, or CMT, is around 340 miles.
By comparison, cars, taxis, trucks and buses rack up 3.3 million vehicle miles traveled (VMT) each weekday in the Manhattan Central Business District. Against that figure, the 340 miles of CMT are just one part in 10,000.
That ratio would shrink by three if we limit the comparison to Midtown, which occupies the northernmost one-third of the CBD. We could also charge each horse carriage with several times the traffic impact of a taxicab or car, due to larger size and lesser maneuverability. But even accounting for those factors, shutting down horse-carriage traffic still leaves in place the equivalent of at least 999 of every 1,000 vehicles on Midtown streets.