Entries into NYC by land, sea and air increase in pandemic rebound

·2 min read

In another post-lockdown milestone, New York City is seeing more activity at airports, bridges and tunnels than it did before the COVID-19 pandemic.

Some 32 million passengers passed through the region’s three major airports in the first quarter of the year, according to the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.

The flow of passengers through John F. Kennedy, Newark Liberty International and LaGuardia airports was an all-time record, the authority said in a statement.

Newark and LaGuardia were particularly popular. LaGuardia saw 7.2 million passengers, up from 6.7 million in the first three months of 2019, and Newark got 11.1 million, up from 10.4 million.

That beats the national trend, said Greg Staley at the U.S. Travel Association, an industry group.

While nationwide air travel exceeded 2019 levels slightly in January, it went back down in February and March, according to Staley.

“In recent weeks, overall air travel demand in the United States has remained close to or slightly below prepandemic levels,” he said.

The uptick in entry to the five boroughs came by land as well.

The Port Authority’s six bridge and tunnel crossings — the Goethels, Bayonne and George Washington bridges, the Holland and Lincoln tunnels and the Outerbridge Crossing — saw a 3% increase in New York-bound traffic over the first quarter of 2019.

A total of 28.7 million vehicles crossed into the city in the first three months of the year — more traffic during those months than any year since 2008, when 29.7 million vehicles made the trip.

Notably, truck traffic is up 15% above 2019 levels, continuing a growth trend since the pandemic began.

Of the vehicles crossing into New York city this year, 2 million of them have been trucks, according to the Port Authority’s data.

That’s up from 1.88 million for the same period last year.

Zach Miller, metro region operations manager for the Trucking Association of New York, said his organization has also noticed an increase in truck traffic.

“It’s definitely related to the infrastructure funding bill,” he said of the Biden administration’s $1.2 trillion infrastructure package passed in November.

The bill, which includes money earmarked for MTA projects, Amtrak expansion, airport upgrades, bridge repairs and a bevy of other New York-area projects, has kicked off a series of construction projects, Miller noted.

In turn, the construction has sparked a trucking boom, with trucks transporting material from the port to job sites throughout the region.

“We’re seeing [trucking] companies look to purchase new equipment and hire new drivers,” he said.

The data reflects that the port moved the equivalent of 1.8 million 20-foot cargo containers worth of freight during the first three months of this year — an amount on par with pre-pandemic levels.