The Brewster station on the Metro North Railroad.

There’s a huge psychic distance—and a considerable physical one too—among the easternmost stop on the LIRR at Montauk, the staircases connecting the 1 train to the Staten Island Ferry in Lower Manhattan and the junction between Route 301 and the Taconic State Parkway in the northern reaches of Putnam County. But they’re all considered part of the regional transportation network of which the five boroughs are the hub.

A new report by the body that directs federal transportation funding in the region finds that system will soon face unprecedented strain.

The New York Metropolitan Transportation Council has just released its quinquennial plan for the region’s transit system, called Draft Plan 2045. It sets policy priorities for repairing and improving the system of highways, roads, ferries, subways, and commuter trains that ties together Long Island, the city and the Lower Hudson Valley.

The report foresees significant increases in population over the 2017 to 2045 period—with the biggest absolute gains in the city (700,000 or so new people) but the biggest proportional growth in the Lower Hudson (18 percent). That will translate into a million more transit trips each day in the city, a 10 percent increases in miles driven and a 105 percent jump in freight tonnage passing through the region.

Preserving and enhancing the system will require nearly half a trillion dollars in spending between now and 2045, the report finds. Not that such spending will “keep up” with demand—crucially, the report finds that additional investments cannot totally address the looming strains on the regional transit system, meaning improvements in management are essential:

“Enhancements planned to the system will likely not be sufficient to accommodate this future demand and alleviate congestion on the system. Additionally, system improvements are constrained by the density, current land uses, and built environment throughout the NYMTC planning area, as well as by the cost of building and maintaining infrastructure. For these reasons, [transit system management and operations] will be critical to addressing mobility challenges, improving system safety, and maximizing the use of existing infrastructure.”

The full report can be read here. Comments on the draft are due by May 30 through the NYMTC virtual forum, by email or mail (New York Metropolitan Transportation Council,Attn: Public Comment Period, 25 Beaver Street, 2nd Floor, New York, NY, 10004.)