The Rudin Center for Transportation at NYU’s Wagner School of Public Service notes with sorrow the passing of Susan Kupferman, the first Co-Director of the Rudin Center. Susan’s energy and intelligence made her a joy to work with. Our condolences to her family.
Spotted: The Yankees use a Subway Theme and Typeface to present the statistics of their players. Check it out!
On Friday, the Rudin Center research team presented their research about the Transportation Impacts of Hurricane Sandy, including policy recommendations for future changes such as hardening of Subway infrastructure and expansion of the city’s Bus Rapid Transit network.
The report, which was released in November, can be downloaded here.
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.
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.
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 Challenge – This 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!
Anthony Townsend, NYU Rudin researcher, has published a new book, Smart Cities: Big Data, Civic Hackers, and the Quest for a New Utopia, called “An unflinching look at the aspiring city-builders of our smart, mobile, connected future.”
It’s now available for pre-order on Amazon.
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.
As part of the Open Transportation Data Meetup, we’ve created a Google Doc to centralize all available transportation data for the NY region in one place. The document is publicly editable and ready to be populated and discussed (wishlist items accepted as well). Check it out here: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet/ccc?key=0AoNd04_Ge-SpdGFwSWtpa0F1ZGVzS19oZGxNektSVnc&usp=sharing
Your contributions and suggestions are welcome!
Rudin Research Associate Sarah Kaufman spoke at yesterday’s Transportation Equity Conference in Albany to discuss the role of smart transportation in environmental sustainability. The topic is more complex than it seems: as driving becomes easier with tools like autonomous cars, traffic sensing and self-aware parking spots, how can we continue to reduce car use, a major source of greenhouse gas emissions? In the United States, commutes are growing ever-longer, as the NYU Rudin Center showed with our Super-Commuter report last year: fast-growing numbers of Americans are traveling more than 90 minutes or 90 miles each way, usually by car.
We can use technology to make transit more enticing:
- Open data lets travelers see schedules before they reach a station
- Social media informs them of delays, so they can re-route
- Open source planning tools, like NYC DOT’s Fourth Avenue project, give travelers a say in future developments
- Advanced fare payment systems, like MBTA’s mobile payments, make it easy to board even when the right fare is unavailable
- Walkability measures, like those provided by Walkscore, allow us to choose our housing locations by the ability to run errands on foot or use transit for a commute, saving money and waistlines.
These are just some basic tools to make transit a more pleasurable and efficient experience (several, like augmented reality, are on the horizon, and will shift our mobility patterns even further). For environmental and economic needs, these foundational technologies must be in place to bring riders over to transit and mitigate automobile dependence.