Cities Spotlight Policy •

New Lime Report Details NYC Transit Equity Crisis And Micromobility Solution

New York: the city that never sleeps and, apparently, always drives.

On the heels of recent reporting about the MTA’s falling ridership numbers and an unexpected deal between Governor Cuomo and Mayor De Blasio to curb traffic congestion, the results of a new study released today by Lime reveal another troubling reality concerning mobility in the Big Apple:

The largest city in the United States is in the midst of a transit equity crisis.

Based on data provided by Sam Schwartz Engineering, Lime’s comprehensive report focuses on four key aspects of both the problem and the possible solution:

  1. The demographics of transit deserts

  2. The relationship between household income and proximity to subway stations

  3. The number of New Yorkers that micromobility would connect to public transit

  4. The importance of city-wide micromobility access

Read on to see some of the highlights of our findings.

Transit Deserts

While New York City’s population has recently hit record highs, the majority of residents do not have easy access to affordable transportation. These New Yorkers reside what have become known as transit deserts: areas with limited transportation options, where demand far exceeds supply.


Lime’s reporting shows that these transit deserts drastically and disproportionately affect low-income populations and communities of color, resulting in significant barriers to upward mobility; this despite a robust subway system and 6,000 buses running on 300 bus routes city-wide.

Income Disparity

Data continues to demonstrate that the locations of transit hubs in New York — subway stations, docked bike stations, bus stops — are geographically biased towards communities of higher incomes.

According to Lime’s report, areas within reasonable walking distance of a subway station are more likely to have higher household incomes than the city’s average. This corresponds with findings released by the Community Service Society of New York, showing that 58% of low-income New Yorkers rely on the subway and buses as their main form of transportation, spending more than 10% of their income on transit.


“There is an urgent need for new reliable, affordable transportation options that serve lower-income communities in New York,” said Phil Jones, Lime Senior Director for the East Coast.

“Lime has proven elsewhere that its dock-free bikes and scooters can close the transportation equity gap and deliver needed service to lower-income communities. We stand ready to deliver our solutions for New Yorkers.”

Micromobility As Part Of The Solution

As the global leader in micromobility, Lime can have a profound impact on both eliminating transit deserts and providing more equitable transportation access to all New Yorkers.

According to our findings, the availability of dock-free bikes and scooters throughout the five boroughs would put 1.5 million more New Yorkers within a 10-minute walk, bike or scoot of a subway line.

While Lime recommends prioritizing immediate areas of need such as East Flatbush and South Jamaica, the success of such a connectivity network ultimately depends heavily on a comprehensive and city-wide rollout of micromobility options.


Additionally, though our LimeAccess program, Lime offers heavily discounted rides to low-income community members. Thanks to our partnership with PayNearMe, the program allows the unbanked and those without smartphones to access Lime’s dock-free bike and scooter sharing.

Click here to view the full report on Transit Equity in New York City, and subscribe to the Lime Blog for more in-depth reporting on the world of micromobility.

Cover photo.

Download the App