In New York, the car becomes queen again, at the risk of a “Carmageddon”

To escape public transport and the pandemic, more and more New Yorkers are buying a car, igniting the second-hand market and undermining hopes of decongestion in the first American metropolis.

Whilein the four corners of the world, city centers are becoming pedestrians, at 35, a city dweller at heart, Julien Genestoux had never owned a car, whether in Lyon, Rome, San Francisco or New York, where he has lived for 5 years. “As a user, the car in town is a nightmare“, he admits.”It’s traffic jams, turning for hours to park. For me, it was not practical at all. But there, it unfortunately becomes necessary.


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A few weeks ago, he took the plunge and bought a family car via a used vehicle sales site. “We have three children“, he said.”We have to go out, in New York, we can’t do anything in the city since everything is closed. “This internet entrepreneur swapped weekends in Central Park for trips to the Rockaways, one of New York’s beaches.

The second-hand car, a “temporary” vehicle to avoid public transport

Julien is not the only one to have had this idea. He was even the last of his bunch of friends, none of whom had never bought a car before the pandemic either.

The Manheim index of used vehicles, which measures the evolution of prices at United States, reached 163.7 in August, his absolute record, compared to 141.3 a year ago.

At the beginning of June, Chris Stylianou, second-hand seller in Brooklyn, was on the verge of completely emptying his stock, unheard of in his 30-year career and at a time when cars are less and less well regarded for the climate, especially SUVs.

People were buying just so they wouldn’t have to take public transport“, recalls Chris Stylianou.

As the opportunity snapped, the new did not have the same effect at all. Even though sales have picked up since June, they are still significantly down from 2019 for all major manufacturers. “Everyone hopes it is transient“, Julien Genestoux abounds.”For us, if the situation returned to normal, (…) I think we would get rid of the car. I don’t have the impression that this is something definitive.

More cars and bicycles, traffic soon saturated

Tens of thousands of New Yorkers who used public transportation now hit the road every day. “They are different people from before“the pandemic,” said Fernando Bajana, manager of the GGMC Seven Eleven parking lot, located in Midtown, Manhattan, in an office district.They used to come to work by public transport, but now they have fear.

While most New Yorkers still work from home, traffic levels are only 9% down from last year“, alerted the Transportation Alternatives association in September.

The following ? “Carmageddon“according to the association, that is to say the ultimate congestion, with a higher car traffic than before the pandemic and an army of new cyclists.

If today“, says Julien Genestoux,”people buy cars, I think there is also a part of the failure of public transport policies in the city“.

Self-proclaimed champion of pollution control, singing the praises of cycling and public transport, the mayor of new york Bill de Blasio has so far refused any major measure to prevent the congestion caused by the pandemic.

Scheduled for January 2021, the congestion charge project in midtown Manhattan, which could reduce traffic, has finally been postponed to the end of 2021, at least.

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