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.
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.
Straphangers as far as the eye can see.
Thanks to our new Research Assistant, Nolan Levenson, for the photo.
Our colleagues at the New York Metropolitan Transportation Council are hosting a series of events to involve the public in a 2040 plan, which are open to the public. From their website:
This Plan will be the 25-year blueprint for transportation strategies and investments in the NYMTC region, which includes the five boroughs of New York City; the lower Hudson Valley counties of Putnam, Rockland and Westchester; and Nassau and Suffolk counties on Long island. It will cover all modes of surface transportation from a regional perspective including highways, streets, public transportation, bicycle and pedestrian facilities, goods movement and special needs transportation. In addition, it will also address key transportation activities such as operations and management of the transportation system, safety, security and air quality conformity analysis.
You can learn more about the events on the website here, and let us know if you plan to attend – we’d love to hear about your experience.
Harlem subway riders may be fighting a losing battle against rats in their station (via NY1).
New York legislators are proposing installing street cameras to catch city speeders (via NY Times).
More Bronx residents are heading north, rather than south, in the mornings (via Transportation Nation).
Adrian Benepe, called the most ambitious Parks Commissioner since Robert Moses, is stepping down to work for a non-profit (via NY Times).
Some neighbors of the UN building are concerned that nearby bike share stations could be used by terrorists (via Gothamist).
Mobilizing the Region argues for the importance of the MTA’s Capital Program, which funds many of the Authority’s improvement projects.
- Catherine Dwyer
The Walking and the Life of the City symposium was held last Thursday at the Rudin Center. The event put walking back at the center of urban life by presenting research from six transportation scholars on why people walk, its role in urban life, and how walking is likely to change in the future.
The event was led off by journalist Tom Vanderbilt, who gave a keynote about the challenges of walking in America, while showing that even in the suburbs, the need for more walking and better pedestrian infrastructure exists. He set the stage for the research presentations, which presented some of the latest findings on walking in transportation research:
- Kevin Manaugh from McGill University in Montreal described the relationship between walking and socioeconomic status, showing a complex relationship between income and walking, where those at the high end of the spectrum walk when they want to fulfill a personal attitude or desire, but those at the low end walk far more because they have to.
- Dick Ettema, Associate Professor at Utrecht University in the Netherlands, explored the relationship between walking and personal feelings of well-being, showing the close relationship between walking and quality of life.
- David King, Assistant Professor of Urban Planning at Columbia University, presented an argument for refocusing transportation policy and finance on walking, relative to our current focus on other modes such as cars and transit.
- Andrew Mondschein, research fellow at the NYU Rudin Center, described how information and communication technologies (ICTs) may facilitate walking in previously unexplored neighborhoods, while still presenting a potential threat to the quality of our personal cognitive maps that we traditional have relied on to travel.
- Sarah Kaufman, also an NYU Rudin Center research associate, extended the discussion on ICT and walking with a presentation on augmented reality (AR). She showed that AR has already arrived with smartphones, and she discussed the positive and negative potential consequences of augmenting a life on the street with so much new information.
- Robert Schneider, a post-doctoral researcher at UC Berkeley and UC Davis, wrapped the symposium by describing future walking research needs. He described the need for going beyond traditional travel surveys and counting all walking trips, including the ones that often get missed.
Overall, the presentations and the audience’s response showed that walking is a central part of urban life, and that transportation research and policy is just now beginning to catch up to that fact.
Thank you to all the presenters and attendees! The six research presentations, as well as an event summary, will be compiled into an edited book, which will be available later this summer. Please check back for more information, and in the meantime, check out our event photos here, and the Storify summary here.
The event was excellently summarized by The Atlantic Cities here.
Posted by Andrew Mondschein
We’ve just released our newest publication, Getting Started with Open Data: A Guide for Transportation Agencies. Here’s what’s in store:
Getting Started with Open Data is a guide for transportation agencies that would like to release their schedule data and administrative records to the public, and need an introduction to the practice. This guide is intended to result in streamlined use of transportation services and promote a productive dialogue between agencies and their constituents. It is being released as a living document, intended for input from both transportation data owners and users, to result in the most complete open transportation data guide possible.
The presentations at last night’s event, Short Talks, Big Ideas: Transportation at the Tech Frontier, were extremely successful- informative, thought-provoking, and even charming. A range of thinkers, ideas and projects showed the audience new ways to consider the present and future of getting around. Here are some takeaways from the presentations:
When thinking about transportation, consider: what is the purpose of travel? What are the best tools people can use for navigation? Andrew Mondscheim (of NYU Rudin) showed that when people have mobile phones, they walk further from home. Sophia Choi (of NYC DOT) is exploring taxi ride patterns through GPS data, and told us that 13 million taxi trips are taken every month. John Geraci (of faberNovel) explored tools for getting around cities, and what we can expect from future navigation tools, while Elizabeth Paul unveiled MTA‘s plans for a future fare payment system that will one day work in cities across the globe.
Don’t overestimate the power of the grid. Communications infrastructure needs better buildouts and policy revisions to account for the increased data requirements of smartphones, tablets and other devices, according to Anthony Townsend (of NYU Rudin and Institute for the Future).
Disruption can be unifying, as shown by Mark Krawczuk (of WeMakeCoolSh.it) in his L Train Notwork project, in which he connected passengers in the morning rush hour.
Thank the people doing the thankless task of getting us around, reminded Lizzy Showman and Kathleen Fitzgerald (of School of Visual Arts) in their IHeartM15 project, in which they gave seat pillows to M15 drivers.
The future is promising if we maintain the increase of collaboration in city planning, involving communities in transportation decisions and share information between neighbors, noted Frank Hebbert of OpenPlans.
Hopefully all attendees came away with new ideas and insights about the future of transportation. Feel free to leave comments below.
For those of you unable to attend the event, presentations will be posted shortly.
We’ll be doing another Short Talks, Big Ideas event in September; feel free to suggest speakers or themes in the comments section below.
And please join us on May 1 for our next event, Technology and Urban Mobility: Perspectives from the Front Lines. Thanks to City College’s University Transportation Research Center for their sponsorship of both events.
Here are some photos of the event:
Our recent report on super-commuters has struck a chord across the country, making the news in a variety of places:
- Businessweek, Bloomberg, Toronto Globe & Mail and Atlantic Cities, among others, covered the growing trend of longer commutes.
- WNYC’s Transportation Nation featured a map of air commuters to New York City.
- USA Today discussed the number one super-commute corridor, between Tucson and Phoenix.
- The St. Louis Post-Dispatch featured a law professor who commutes weekly from Chicago to St. Louis.
- The Houston Chronicle saw the report as a call for more transportation options in the region.
This roundup is only some of the coverage shown here. What’s most telling is the broad reach of people affected by this growing trend, and how it affects local economies, commuters’ families, and the shrinking importance of in-office time.
By Carson Qing
Earlier this week, we examined the impact of the super-commuter’s emergence on transportation policies, using the example of the Arizona Department of Transportation’s study of a potential intercity rail line connecting Tucson and Phoenix, one of the most prominent super-commute corridors in the nation. But in recent years, the private sector has serviced a great number of these super-commutes.
While the Northeast Corridor is well-served by Amtrak, a fleet of discount bus companies (Megabus, Boltbus, Peter Pan, and several enterprising Chinatown bus operators) has provided an alternative for potential super-commuters between major cities, in response to the growing market for affordable intercity travel. Because super-commuters tend to be younger and are more likely to come from middle-income backgrounds, they may very well be responsible for the growing success of the intercity bus industry in the Northeast.
Private bus companies have played a significant role in shuttling thousands of super-commuters from Eastern Pennsylvania to Manhattan on a daily basis. Since 2002, the number of residents in the East Stroudsburg, PA metro area working in Manhattan has more than doubled, gobbling up affordable and spacious single-family homes in the eastern Poconos. The 75-mile, 2 hour, $60 round-trip commute to the Port Authority Bus Terminal has become a popular option of these hardy commuters, profiled in this 2008 New York Times article. Private bus operators such as Martz and Transbridge provide commuter services to Manhattan from as far west as Wilkes-Barre and Allentown, respectively. Even though no public infrastructure investments have been made to support development in the area, Eastern Pennsylvania is quickly becoming one of New York City’s newest exurbs as private commuter bus companies have made these daily super-commutes to Manhattan feasible.
Airlines have also facilitated super-commuting by adding greater flight capacity along these emerging corridors: in 2005, JetBlue added 10 flights per day from Boston-Logan to JFK Airport, a 14% increase in capacity, according to the New York Times. Since 2006, the number of residents from the Boston metropolitan area working in Manhattan has doubled. Southwest Airlines, whose entire business model is centered on short, 200-400 mile trips that have seen a significant growth in potential commuters over the past decade, may also make it possible to shuttle between the Texas Triangle cities once or twice weekly. Along the fastest growing super-commuting corridor in the nation (Dallas to Houston), Southwest runs a staggering 25 flights per day between the two cities. These examples show how the market has already responded to the demand for inter-city travel and contributed to the growing trend of super-commuting, while transportation policies are only starting to account for this emerging segment of the labor force.