Here’s something you can brag about to your transportation wonk friends: Out of the nation’s ten largest metro areas, the racial makeup of New York’s public transit ridership most closely represents that of its working population. Win! Okay, it’s nerdy, but this is actually a pretty boast-worthy fact because it suggests the that the metro area’s transit system, while flawed at times, is among the best if not the best in the nation at serving its population. Transportation Nation broke down the numbers from the U.S. Census department: “The NY metro area workforce is 61.9 percent white, on public transportation it’s 47.2 percent, a 15 percentage point drop. Other races are in relatively the same proportions as the city at large.”
People are going to take the most efficient way they can afford to get to work, so a bigger, better transit system means more diverse ridership, reporter Alex Goldmark explains. “If transit isn’t so popular, then the bus becomes the option for those who can’t afford a car, and sadly, that’s correlated with race.” That’s still the case to some extent in New York, but far less so than in the second-largest U.S. city of Los Angeles. Be sure to bring this up as your trump card the next time you’re arguing with an Angeleno about why New York kicks that city’s butt.