Honoring Women in Transportation


At last night’s gala of the Women’s Transportation Seminar, NYU Rudin Center Director Mitchell Moss introduced Helena Williams, President of MTA Long Island Rail Road, and WTS Woman of the Year. He discussed the importance of women in transportation, from the true architect of the Brooklyn Bridge (Emily Warren Roebling), to the fact that it took LIRR 179 years to find someone as great as Helena, the first woman to run it. When the MTA was founded 48 years ago, Professor Moss said, the goal was to make the Long Island Rail Road the best railroad in the country, “and Helena is the one to make that come true.”

Congratulations to Helena Williams!

Mitchell Moss discusses the importance of women in transportation and honors Helena Williams

Mitchell Moss discusses the importance of women in transportation and honors Helena Williams

Helena Williams, MTA LIRR President, accepts the WTS award for Woman of the Year

Helena Williams, MTA LIRR President, accepts the WTS award for Woman of the Year

 

 

 

 

Upcoming events at the NYU Rudin Center


Please join the NYU Rudin Center on the evening of November 4th for our next edition of Short Talks, Big Ideas, showcasing innovative work and ideas at the frontier of transportation innovation. Free registration is now open: http://wagner.nyu.edu/events/rudin-11-04-2013

We’ll cover streets, bikes, transit, dollar vans, data, wi-fi, photography, and more. #BigIdeas13
Also, we’re co-hosting the November 19th event “Closing the Enforcement Gap to Save Lives on NYC Streets” with Transportation Alternatives. Register here:

https://secure3.convio.net/ta/site/SSurvey;jsessionid=99462DC93AA291251B5950A7105F2B2D.app365b?ACTION_REQUIRED=URI_ACTION_USER_REQUESTS&SURVEY_ID=6420&pw_id=2441&autologin=true

 

Hope to see you in November!

‘Smart Cities’ Book Talk


The new book ‘Smart Cities,’ by NYU Rudin Center’s Senior Research Fellow Anthony Townsend, takes an urbanist’s approach to the growth of big data. He spoke at the Rudin Center last night about this labor of love, and his desire “to bring a new perspective to the Jetsons vision of the smart city.” Anthony recalled his budding passion for this topic when creating rogue wi-fi networks with NYC Wireless a decade ago, leading him to study cities and technology, which is he thrilled to have led him to this point.

Check out the book’s website here, and read an excerpt on Boing Boing.

Smart Cities Cover

Innovations in Bus Rapid Transit: Event Recap


By Carson Qing

This week, the NYU Rudin Center and the Wagner Transportation Association (WTA) hosted a panel discussion of recent innovations in bus rapid transit (BRT) in the New York City metropolitan area. The panel’s presenters included Ted Orosz from MTA New York City Transit, Eric Beaton from the New York City Department of Transportation, and Tom Marchwinski from New Jersey Transit.

The discussion highlighted how transportation providers were able to find innovative solutions to implement BRT under the unique context of the New York City metropolitan region, where street widths, curbside usage, land use characteristics, and competing transit options often pose challenges for developing a BRT system similar to those built in Latin America and Asia. The panel’s speakers highlighted how implementation of Select Bus Service in New York City and bus rapid transit in high-volume, medium-density, and suburban settings in New Jersey have succeed in reducing travel times, improving level-of-service, and attracting new riders by adapting BRT characteristics to better fit the context of the corridors and communities they serve.

The presentations are available for download here: Ted Orosz, Eric Beaton, Tom Marchwinski

 

 

Short Talks, Big Ideas: Recap


Last night’s Short Talks, Big Ideas event showed us how people are using data, how agencies can absorb public input, and how we should be approaching various modes of transport in the future.

Thanks to the numerous attendees, and our fantastic presenters:
Guillaume Charny-Brunet, FaberNovel, 1.6 Billion Rides: A story of NYC subways, big data and YOU!
Jeff Ferzoco, Owner, Jeff Ferzoco Design and Senior Fellow, RPA, Mapping innovation: The line is the journey
Stephanie Camay, Parsons Brinckerhoff, Public involvement in transportation projects
Bob Leonard, EarthGarage, Standardizing sustainable personal vehicles
Adam Zaranko, NYC Economic Development Corporation, East River Ferry Service
Chris Whong, NYU Wagner, Baltimore Circulatorbuddy
Alexis Perrotta, Columbia University Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation, Can social fares improve NYCT?
Anthony Townsend, NYU Wagner, New Data for Bicycling Research

Check out the event video here and the pics below: http://www.ustream.tv/recorded/31217383

We’ll see you in the Fall with our next iteration of Short Talks, Big Ideas. If you have speaker suggestions for our next Short Talks, Big Ideas event, please get in touch.

Until then, please join us on April 20th for the Rethinking Regulation Design Challenge on April 20th.

April 10th Event Postponed


Due to a number of last-minute scheduling conflicts, the April 10 NYU Rudin Center symposium on “Climate-Proofing Connectivity: The Future of New York’s Links to the Northeast Corridor” will be postponed to a new date later this year. We will update you when a new schedule is confirmed.

Thanks for your interest in this important issue.
Please join us at one of our other two events for next week on BRT and Innovation.

Don’t-Miss Events in April


We have a fantastic set of events slated for April at the NYU Rudin Center:

April 9th (morning): Local Innovations in Bus Rapid Transit: A Panel Discussion – This panel will focus on innovative bus planning in the New York Metro area, and the unique challenges it presents to both policy makers and citizens.

April 9th (evening): Short Talks, Big Ideas: Transportation Innovations – Join the NYU Rudin Center for this high-energy series of short talks about how we’re using, improving and thinking about the future of transportation.

POSTPONED UNTIL FALL April 10th: Climate-Proofing Connectivity: The Future of New York’s Links to the Northeast Corridor – This symposium will convene experts on climate change, next-generation aviation, and high-speed rail planning to explore how New York’s external transportation connections can adapt to climate change in the coming decades to provide secure, resilient and sustainable economic lifelines in the face of an uncertain future.

April 20th: Rethinking Regulation Design ChallengeThis challenge is about bringing stakeholders to the table to develop innovative, realistic, and implementable solutions to help address the problems government regulators face when monitoring illegal apartment conversions in NYC, and non-compliant “Chinatown” motorcoach companies. (with NYU Wagner and OpenPlans)

All events are free and open to the public. Click on the event titles to register. See you in April!

USDOT Under Secretary Polly Trottenberg Visits the Rudin Center


by Nolan Levenson, photos by Marilyn Lopez

Polly Trottenberg, Under Secretary of the US Department of Transportation, visited with the NYU Rudin Center and Wagner students, faculty, transportation professionals, and representatives of the media last week to discuss timely issues in federal transportation policy. Her talk focused on financing transportation, the successes of the TIGER grant program, and the increasing role of technology and data in government.

She also addressed how the Sequester will impact USDOT. Since the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) composes about 75% of the USDOT’s budget, they will bear the burden of the spending cuts. Airports with less traffic may lose their funding. There will also likely be impacts to the Federal Transit Administration’s (FTA) budget, but about half of USDOT will be unaffected.

Ms. Trottenberg also highlighted the increasing difficulty of financing transportation as the gas tax no longer covers the nation’s transportation infrastructure needs. She pointed to tools such as gas sales taxes and Vehicles Miles Traveled (VMT) taxes, and emphasized tolling of highways as a potential significant revenue source. She acknowledged that while federal transportation law prevents the tolling of existing road capacity, state law and legislators have also failed to initiate policies that would change this limitation, which creates a political block on a potential new revenue source for transportation. In general, she said, she believes that state transportation policy must be pushed in a more progressive direction.

Many in the room were happy to hear Ms. Trottenberg’s support for more open data and advanced technology use at the federal government. She said that USDOT should tap into the resources of the private sector to better understand and analyze transportation issues throughout the country. She pointed to a moment when her staff was on the phone with Google employees in Stuttgart, Germany, when the USDOT staff asked about the reliability of real-time traffic data. After a pause of a few seconds, the Google employees responded, “well it’s not like it’s more than 60 seconds off,” a response met with laughter by USDOT staff considering that to be, of course, extremely reliable. The story was also received with laughter during our discussion, and the audience appreciated the example for government’s need to tap into existing technological resources.

Super-Commuting vs. Mega-Commuting


Carson Qing & Sarah Kaufman

Earlier this week, The U.S. Census released a report announcing the proliferation of “mega-commuters,” 600,000 Americans who travel at least 90 minutes and 50 miles each way. It’s slightly different from the “super-commuters” we at the NYU Rudin Center defined last year, who are individuals who work in one county (usually of a major metropolitan area), but live in another, usually commuting more than 90 miles each way.

The most pressing difference between the terms “mega-commuter” and “super-commuter” is that the former focuses on the individuals traveling long distances regularly to their workplaces, while the latter also includes people who make these journeys once or twice or week, at most. These long-distance, low-frequency super-commuters may travel to the office only once or twice per week at most, or maintain similarly unconventional schedules. Our definition of a super-commuter, estimated to be 3% to 10% of the workforce depending on the city, includes both “mega-commuters” and low-frequency, long-distance commuters who were not captured in the mega-commuter definition. The graphic below illustrates the differences between these two types of super-commuters in their travel behavior.

 

The U.S. Census Bureau provides two data sources to define origins and destinations of commuter flows. To define the mega-commuter, the Census Bureau used American Community Survey (ACS), which measures data from only 7.5% of the working population, then extrapolates the data for a larger population based from that sample. But the Census Bureau’s OnTheMap tool (OTM), used in our super-commuter report last year, extracts employment data directly from state employment insurance records and represents coverage of nearly all employees and their work locations, with the exception of self-employed individuals. Because of this difference between ACS and OTM, the “mega-commuter” figure is most likely an undercount of long-distance commuters.

Using OTM, we found nearly 650,000 long-distance commuters in the top five U.S. super-commuting metropolitan areas who commute to the core county from a county outside the metropolitan area. OTM is more successful at capturing low-frequency commuting trips than the ACS, because the ACS’s line of questioning focuses on frequent trip-making, asking respondents where did they work for the majority of the past week and how did they travel to work, and assumes that the sample data applies to a larger population[1]. Low-frequency commuters are coded as “working from home” in the ACS, even though in reality their link to the workplace is not severed: the trips are made less frequently, due to the impediments of travel time, distance, and cost.

The rise of “tele-commuters,” who now represent 10% of the total workforce (or in the case of Aetna, 47% of its workforce, up from 9% in 2005[2]), and low-frequency, long-distance commuting has created a fundamental shift in the way people travel between home and work. The traditional “Journey to Work” survey methodology used in the ACS does not fully capture new patterns of commuting or the growing distances between home and work locations in metropolitan regions. It neglects the large and growing number of Americans who do not travel exclusively between home and work on a regular basis. Thus, transportation planners and researchers should not overly rely on the “Journey to Work” methodology to analyze and understand transportation flows: a more nuanced data source that captures a greater variety of trip purposes is increasingly necessary to analyze travel behavior in this new era of commuting.


[1] Spear, Bruce. “Improving Employment Data for Transportation Planning.” Cambridge Systematics. September 2011. http://onlinepubs.trb.org/onlinepubs/nchrp/docs/NCHRP08-36(98)_FR.pdf

[2] Miller, C. & Rampbell, C. “Yahoo Orders Home Workers Back to the Office.” The New York Times. 25 February 2013.