New Report: Transportation Social Media Policy Recommendations


We’ve just posted a new report, “How Social Media Moves New York, Part 2: Recommended Social Media Policy for Transportation Providers,” addressing necessary policies for transportation agencies looking to reach riders and drivers in the system.

View the abstract here, download the (pdf) report here, and read Part 1, “How Social Media Moves New York: Twitter Use by Transportation Providers in the New York Region,” here (pdf).

Let us know your thoughts in the comments below or on our Facebook page.

The A Train in the Rockaways


Thanks to Brian Furniss of MTA New York City Transit for providing us with these powerful photos of the A train line in the Rockaways.

 

 

NACTO Conference: Opening Plenary Recap


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.

New Post: The Importance of Information in Transportation


NYU Rudin Center Research Associate Sarah Kaufman has posted a new piece on The City Fix blog, about how information moves cities, and the rise of the third sector. Here’s an excerpt:

Information and transportation are so intricately intertwined that smartphones and other technologies have reshaped how urban dwellers get around in cities all over the world. In fact, two of the most important transportation innovations of the last five years have been the opening of data and the use of social media tools for service updates. Open transportation data, now provided by more than 500 US cities, has led to a large, powerful sub-economy of third-party applications (an estimated half-million app downloads have come from the NY MTA’s data alone), while social media and third-party websites have become the primary means of communicating with transit customers (JetBlue has 20 Twitter followers per weekday passenger, according to forthcoming NYU Rudin Center research).

See the entire post here: http://thecityfix.com/blog/mapping-mobility-the-importance-of-information-in-transportation/

National Perspective on the NYC Subway Fare


Just how far does a single ride ticket get you in subway systems across the U.S.? In light of the MTA fare hike discussions, the NYU Rudin Center decided to investigate:

Even if the base fare is raised to $2.50, you’re still able to go about six times farther on a MetroCard than the MBTA Charlie Card, WMATA SmarTrip or any other city fare. As Americans’ commutes get longer, NYC Subways remain one of the best bargains in the country.

UPDATE: Based on feedback via Twitter followers: True, most people don’t ride the entire track length. But the system’s size determines the costs to run, maintain and secure it. A system of NY’s size can’t afford to run on the same fare as Chicago’s.

The Importance of Twitter to Transportation


NYU Rudin Center researcher Sarah M. Kaufman gives an early look at her forthcoming research on social media use and transportation today on Google’s Policy By The Numbers Blog. Here’s a snippet from the piece; read it in its entirety on the blog:

Social media tools, such as Twitter, allow transportation providers to  communicate directly with users: alert customers about  service changes, suggest alternative routes, and amplify the message to friends and neighbors. Ideally, these actions would occur within moments of a delay’ Twitter is superb platform, since it is free, fast and packed with dynamic features.

 

But our research at NYU’s Rudin Center indicates that transportation providers in the New York Metropolitan region have yet to use Twitter to its fullest potential. Our research, based on all tweets from May 1 to June 30, 2012, offers policy recommendations for using Twitter in a transportation setting.

 

How do you use social media for transportation? Let us know in the comments.

A Day in the Life: How the Sept. 11 TweetMap Was Created


Yesterday we showed you Chris Whong’s tweet map from September 11th, 2012. Here’s how he did it:
A Day in the Life is a dump of 15,000 geocoded tweets, all from a single day, all from the five boroughs of New York City.  Created by NYU Urban Planning Student and civic techie Chris Whong, the map is labeled a social media experiment, a visualization of social media interactions that allows a user to freely explore the city and see who was tweeting what, and most interestingly, where they tweet from.  Our online social networks tend to mirror our real world networks, and A Day in the Life offers a peek into thousands of other networks that share the Urban Landscape, even if their many nodes and linkages don’t cross paths often (online or in real life).
The addition of latitude and longitude coordinates to the normal tweet data has some powerful implications, and adds a spatial element to the typical analysis of tweets by keyword or hashtag, and even see the movement of individual tweeters around the city over the course of the day (provided they tweet regularly of course).  A Day in the Life is meant more for exploration, but other static maps and visualizations of links and specific keywords can be produced from the same types of data sets. (Eric Fischer released a series of maps highlighting movement corridors through cities using geocoded tweets earlier this year)  The New York map is based on a similar one for Baltimore (http://www.charmcitynetworks.com/bmoretweets) that also features layers for Census data and Baltimore’s Vacant properties, giving the user some context for the location of the tweeter.
Interesting? Yes.  Entertaining? Of course!  Alarming? Sometimes (tweets about violence, drug use, truancy, etc can be seen here and there), but is this data really useful for drawing real conclusions about a city and effecting change?  Maybe.  It should be noted that this collection represents only a small sample of all tweets, 2-4% by some estimates.  While there is certainly a broad geographic representation, with no corner of the city left out, the only people on these maps are those who had location services on, and the picture might be very different if all tweets were considered.  Those who tweet their location, for whatever reason, may not be a representative sample of all tweeters.
The data source for these maps is Twitter’s streaming API, which allows a user to specify a bounding box.  Any geocoded tweets that occur within the box are sent in real-time, and can be stored in a database for future use.  The Baltimore Map was a result of impromptu civic hacktivism born on a Facebook group called Baltimore tech.  Dave Troy, a local tech entrepreneur and urbanist wrote a script to pull Baltimore tweets from the API, and then published a link to the data for any who could find something useful to do with it.  The results included animations of user movement overs time, aggregate tweet trail maps that highlight frequently traveled routes, word clouds that attempt to highlight themes, A Day in the Life, and more.  So, we used Facebook connections to do twitter data analysis.  Social Media begets Social Media.