Note that slides were only used by Robin Lester Kenton (NYC DOT), Aaron Donovan (MTA), and Tyson Evans (NYTimes). The others used web-based visuals.
This morning’s panel, Social Media and Hurricane Sandy, showcased the importance of various channels of information from official, unofficial and media-based information sources during and after the storm. The panel included Robin Lester Kenton of NYC Department of Transportation; Aaron Donovan and JP Chan of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority; Ben Kabak of Second Avenue Sagas; and Tyson Evans of The New York Times.
Several themes emerged during the discussion:
Speed Overrides Risk: It’s often better to get information out quickly and risk its incorrectness than to wait, since customers will get (potentially incorrect) information from elsewhere. While it seems NYC DOT was more risk-averse during the hurricane, MTA posted two tweets that later had to be retracted, but, as Aaron noted, “the world didn’t stop revolving,” and the overall information sharing process was overwhelmingly positive.
Photos and Videos are Essential: Illustrations of storm damage and workers in the field are vital in public understanding, patience and support of recovery efforts. MTA posted prolifically on Flickr and YouTube, NYC DOT posted sporadically on Instagram (but will now add more posts during the next event), and those images were used widely, including on Second Avenue Sagas. Panelists agreed that “timeliness was more important than quality,” as Aaron said, since people were focused on the newsworthiness.
Behind the scenes, it’s resource-intensive: All information-dissemination efforts required extensive research, collaboration and coordination. Tyson demonstrated the New York Times’ internal working spreadsheet used to populate the website’s transportation guide, explaining that a large team simultaneously updated the document from a plethora of sources. Robin reported that with power out at DOT’s office, major efforts across teams spread across the City were needed to update the website, while Ben recalled updating SAS while conducting his day job from home.
All panelists agreed that greater transparency in the public sector leads to greater trust of the information provided. They all plan to take the lessons learned from Hurricane Sandy to the next major event to provide open, image-intensive information.
Finally, the panelists were asked to name their transportation (or not) social media role models. The list included:
Thanks to all who attended and participated, and we hope to see you at our next event, Short Talks, Big Ideas: Innovations in Transportation.
NYU’s Rudin Center for Transportation has recently been cited in the media for the new report “Transportation During and After Sandy,” which details the strengths and limits of the transportation infrastructure in New York City and the surrounding region. Press coverage has praised the report’s analysis of rider frustration levels and system preparedness, as well as the accompanying interactive timeline.
Check out the links below:
Wall Street Journal, Post-Sandy Survey Ranks Transit Rancor
Transportation Nation, Sandy Data Shows NYC Commuters Are Transpo-Adaptable: Report
The Epoch Times, Full Restoration of New York Subway Still Months Away
Brooklyn Spoke, The Least Frustrated
Greater Greater Washington, Breakfast Links: How to Use Public Space
Watch for more press coverage going forward as we post follow-ups to the report.
Sarah Kaufman and Carson Qing
As part of the NYU Rudin Center’s recent report on transportation impacts from Hurricane Sandy, we conducted a survey of commuters to learn about their experiences of getting to work after the storm.
The survey was conducted online, on the site Surveymonkey.com, and was publicized via email blasts and social media. Three hundred-fifteen people in 98 zip codes responded anonymously between October 31 and November 6th, answering questions about their typical and post-Sandy commutes.
Key findings from the survey included:
Many people in the region worked after the storm, either physically reporting to an office or by telecommuting. New Jersey had the lowest rate of people who continued to work, at 56%, while 85% of Brooklyn respondents worked, at the highest percentage.
With limited transit options after the storm, New York commuters significantly altered their commute patterns. Bus ridership rose in Brooklyn (5% of respondents normally used buses, but 12% reported using buses November 1-2) after shuttle buses were put in place of subway routes disrupted due to flooding. Bike commuting rose significantly in Manhattan (15% normal to 24% Nov 1/2) and Queens (17% to 30%).
Post-hurricane commute lengths varied significantly by home region, as shown in the table below. The largest differences were in Staten Island, where commute times almost tripled, and Brooklyn, where they doubled. Variations among home locations are due to the wide range of transportation options available to each set of commuters, and the lower number of survey respondents who reported physically to work, rather than telecommuting or not working.
Post-hurricane commutes were twice or three times as long, varying by mode, as shown in the chart below.Average post-Sandy commute lengths ranged from 43 minutes (walked on Nov 1/2) to 115 minutes (drove, or took subway and bus). Frustration levels ranged from 2.3 on the lower end (walked) to 5.7 on the higher end (drove). Commuters who drove, or took a subway and bus combination, had the greatest difference, with travel times at nearly triple their typical lengths. As expected, they were also among the most frustrated commuters.
Walking and biking commuters were, on average, the least frustrated. Commuters who biked to work Nov 1/2 had the fewest delays in their commutes, as they were only 9 minutes longer than their usual commute. Telecommuters ranked their level of frustration on a similar level as transit commuters, 3.7 to 3.8, perhaps due to communications difficulties of connecting to work.
Commuters used a variety of communications channels to learn about transportation resources, as shown in the chart below. They most commonly referred to official websites and social media, and least from smartphone apps and community groups. The lack of smartphone app connectivity was likely due to the lack of schedule and outage data used for programming the apps.
These figures show the need for increased storm preparation and ever-present public information in times of crisis to ensure residents’ mobility. However, the survey results also demonstrate the resilience of New Yorkers and their workplaces; even in the face of detrimental circumstances, New Yorkers’ businesses maintained operations, showcasing the extreme adaptability of their operations, finances and creativity. The adaptations to new, longer commutes are uniquely New York, in that the population quickly adapted to alternate and substitute transportation modes, new norms of local business practices, flexible, temporary workplaces, and continuous communications.
Survey respondents’ home and workplace locations, by zip code:
Average commute times and frustration levels by home region, November 1-2, 2012
|Home Region||Pre-Sandy Typical Commute Time (min)||Post-Sandy Commute Time (min)||Percent Reporting Physically to Work*||Self-Reported Frustration Level, 1 (min) – 10 (max)|
* Excludes telecommuters
Commuters’ travel time by mode and self-reported frustration level:
|NOV 1/2 MODE||Pre-Sandytravel time (min)||Post-Sandy travel time (min)||Avg frustration index (1-10)|
|Subway + bus||46.5||115.1||4.9|
|Subway + bus + rail||60.0||75.0||2.0|
|Did not work||42.3||0.0||5.6|
*includes PATH, private buses, ferries and other miscellaneous transit options
Sources of Transportation Information
How was New York-area transportation affected during and after Hurricane Sandy?
Check out our interactive timeline here, and download the report that looks at the performance of MTA, NYC and typical New Yorkers on the same page.
If you’re interested in learning more about transportation and social media during Hurricane Sandy, join us at our event tomorrow.
Last night’s panel, The Wisdom of Transportation Crowds, showed us the power of large groups in improving transportation through participation, advocacy, and funding. Our esteemed panelists taught us a few lessons:
Robin Lester Kenton, of NYC Department of Transportation, showed us that the crowds don’t always come up with the best solution; but with 10,000 bike share location requests on the web portal, plus nearly 400 community meetings, numerous key and popular locations emerged for New York’s forthcoming landmark system.
Jeff Maki, of OpenPlans, discussed the role of the “third sector” – between public and private – to create solutions, particularly their forthcoming Kickstarter-funded iPhone app, JoyRide, which uses combinations of official data and user input to create trip planners across modes.
John Raskin, of Riders Alliance, posed the notion that an alternate sector exists for communities interested in making incremental transit improvements, even when reforming the entire transit system is overwhelming.
All panelists agreed that when people were shown their direct benefit from crowdsourcing their efforts and funds, they were more likely to participate. And it seems that the third sector is emerging as the best place for innovation and collaborative wisdom for transportation improvements.
Thanks to all who attended and participated, and we hope to see you at our two upcoming events, Social Media, Transportation and Hurricane Sandy and Short Talks, Big Ideas: Innovations in Transportation.
The National Association of City Transportation Officials was held October 24-26. This Opening Plenary summary was written by NYU Rudin Center Research Assistant Nolan Levenson, and delayed due to Hurricane Sandy.
“Janette Sadik-Khan has put Robert Moses in the back seat” – Mitchell Moss, Director of the Rudin Center for Transportation
Three heavy hitters in Transportation sat together on the morning of Wednesday, October 24th —Ray LaHood, USDOT secretary; Janette Sadik-Khan, NYCDOT Commissioner; and Mitchell Moss, Director of the Rudin Center for Transportation—to kick off the National Association of City Transportation Officials’ (NACTO) Designing Cities conference. Sadik-Khan noted that cities are in a “seminal moment” in history where, due to lack of federal support and attention, they are taking the future into their own hands to “speed the pace of innovation” in transportation.
Mitchell Moss emphasized this innovation trend in transportation. “People used to be interested in housing, but there hasn’t been an innovation in housing in 20 years,” said Moss, “all of the young and talented people are interested in transportation.” He touted Sadik-Khan’s transformation of New York City saying, “Janette Sadik-Khan has put Robert Moses in the back seat.”
New York City, through the leadership of Sadik-Khan with, among others, her staff at NYCDOT, MTA, and support from the Rudin Center, has launched a wide array of innovative solutions to transportation problems such as low-cost pedestrian plazas, bicycle infrastructure, and rapid (“select bus”) bus service. These ideas have both improved transportation efficiency, safety for users of all modes, and have boosted the local economy. After the installation of a new pedestrian plaza in DUMBO, Brooklyn, the adjacent retail sales increased 172% in 3 years, noted Sadik-Khan. These temporary plazas become part of the capital program, and will eventually be built out permanently with fixed infrastructure.
Ray LaHood commended Sadik-Khan for her work and the work of all other city transportation officials attending the conference. Despite a lack of federal financial support for transportation infrastructure funding, cities and USDOT have found ways to collaborate, primarily through TIGER stimulus money, to continue building and repairing the nation’s transportation infrastructure. LaHood noted the flaws of new federal transportation bill, MAP-21, stating, “the best part of MAP-21 is that it’s only 2 years.” He encouraged mayors and city residents alike to pressure their congressional representatives to fund necessary transportation improvements to bring our country into the 21st century.
In order to create world-class cities, LaHood is committed to restoring bi-partisanship to transportation issues in order to fund another round of TIGER grants, explore new funding possibilities such as real estate value capture in relation to transportation improvements, move the federal livability partnership forward (along with EPA and HUD), and incorporate safety and design initiatives such as NACTO bikeway guidelines into USDOT guidelines.
Even with LaHood’s federal support, the message was clear: cities themselves must be the innovators to find solutions to transportation needs. These solutions do not only provide transportation benefits, but can help stimulate the local economy in a challenging time.
We’ve posted a survey about hurricane-related commutes. If you’re in the New York area and working from home or elsewhere, please fill it out to give us a better sense of commute pattern changes resulting from the hurricane: http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/5Z56DVY
Here’s what we’re reading in the wake of Hurricane Sandy:
- NYU Rudin Center Director Mitchell Moss’s op-ed on CNN.com: Sandy debunks ‘nanny state’
- The New York Times posts helpful information about what transportation services are available now, somewhat and eventually.
- With transit down and many workplaces open, Dani Simons has written a helpful guide to post-Sandy bike commuting.
- Fantastic photos from the MTA on Flickr and videos on YouTube that really show the storm’s effect on the transit system.
- Kottke.org has some great links and content about the Hurricane.
Let us know if you’re checking out other interesting and useful sites. Hope you’re keeping warm, dry and with power!