Sarah Kaufman

Sarah Kaufman
Assistant Director

Sarah M. Kaufman is Assistant Director of the NYU Rudin Center for Transportation, where she researches, advocates for and educates about cutting-edge technologies in transportation. She is also an Adjunct Professor of Planning, teaching Intelligent Cities.

Ms. Kaufman leads several projects related to improving transportation through technology: Intelligent Paratransit, to rethink how we transport seniors and the disabled; Emerging Leaders in Transportation Fellowship, a program to enhance innovation at all levels of transportation planning and policymaking; and Job Access, a comparative study of how livelihoods are affected by level of access to mass transit in New York City.

Ms. Kaufman has been cited in The New York Times, Wired, The Wall Street Journal, NBC Nightly News, CityLab and Urban Omnibus for her work on gender and biking, job access and intelligent transportation.

Ms. Kaufman joined NYU Wagner after nearly five years at the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, where she led the open data program, created a conference and online exchange between the MTA and software developers, and assisted in developing the agency's social media program.

Ms. Kaufman earned a Master of Urban Planning from NYU’s Wagner School in 2005, specializing in infrastructure, transportation and telecommunications, and wrote an award-winning thesis designing a bus arrival time signage system. She earned her BA from Washington University in St. Louis, majoring in science writing and concentrating in computer science. She is a font of useless NYC transit trivia.

Semester Course
Spring 2016 URPL-GP.2614.001 Intelligent Cities: Technology Policy and Planning

Global urbanization is driving demand for an estimated $40 trillion in infrastructure over the next two decades. At the same time information technology is spreading off the desktop and out of offices and homes into buildings, infrastructure and objects.  As these two trends collide, a broad range of stakeholders -­‐ the information technology industry, real estate developers, technology startups, citizens and civic leaders – are all looking for new opportunities to address both existing and emerging urban problems using “intelligent” systems. This course will explore the landscape of technologies being used in urban planning and policymaking today, and will discuss: what are intelligent cities really? What are the intended and unintended potential consequences? What is the role of urban policy and planning in shaping their evolution? This course will focus on emerging topics in intelligent cities: data and predictive analytics, open data, citizen science, smart transportation and digital master planning. Students are expected to have some basic knowledge of fundamentals of urban affairs. This is not a technology or engineering course – technical concepts will be explored during the lectures as needed to explain their significance for cities.

Download Syllabus
Date Publication/Paper

Kaufman, Sarah; Smith, Ashley; Jenny O'Connell and David Marulli 2016. Intelligent Paratransit
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As Americans aged 65 or older increase from fifteen to twenty percent of the population by 2030, cities across the United States will face a transportation crisis. Urban residents who are physically unable to use public transportation, including the disabled and mobility-impaired elderly, are offered paratransit services. These paratransit systems, as required by an unfunded 1990 Americans with Disabilities Act mandate, are enormous, and growing annually in new applications and budget requirements.

Paratransit demand is growing nationwide and costs continually increase (now $5.2 billion nationwide); the user experience is often reported as poor. To address efficiency and user experience, this report assesses the state of paratransit, analyzes innovative solutions in three cities and recommends potential technological solutions. The Intelligent Paratransit Technological Upgrade Framework includes improvements in the areas of Onboarding, Reservations, Dispatch & Routing and User Experience. Key technological recommendations include:

  • Ride reservations should be available through multiple channels: phone, apps, SMS messaging, physical infrastructure on the street and wearable technology for riders.
  • Paratransit agencies must collaborate with taxis and app-based car services, including Uber, Lyft, Via and SilverRide, to integrate efficient services.
  • Services connecting riders to transit should feature real-time, in-vehicle data integration with transit services to optimize accessibility of trips.
  • As cities grow in language diversity, paratransit vehicles should feature on-board translation apps and call-in numbers to better service all riders.

By applying new technological systems to a 26 year-old mandate, paratransit services can be made more efficient and provide a better customer experience. In New York City, these upgrades could save the agency up to $133 million per year. Improving mobility solutions for the elderly and disabled is possible, necessary and urgent.

Mitchell L. Moss, Sarah M. Kaufman, Jorge Hernandez and Sam Levy 2016. L Train Closure and Mitigation
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The Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) has announced a timeline to repair the Canarsie Tube, the tunnel connecting the L Train between Brooklyn and Manhattan. The Canarsie Tube must be repaired following the damage incurred from Superstorm Sandy; it was flooded by 7 million gallons of saltwater and closed for 11 days in 2012, reopening after short-term repairs were put in place.

The L has become synonymous with the Brooklyn brand; its surrounding communities will absorb the impact of this tunnel closure. This analysis investigates the importance of the L train by looking at the people and activities that it serves. It concludes with recommendations to mitigate the effects.


Sarah M. Kaufman, Mitchell L. Moss, Jorge Hernandez and Justin Tyndall 2015. Mobility, Economic Opportunity and New York City Neighborhoods "Mobility, Economic Opportunity and New York City Neighborhoods," NYU Rudin Center for Transportation, November 2015.
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Although public transit provides access to jobs throughout the New York City region, there are actually substantial inequalities in mobility. By focusing on the neighborhood level, the NYU Rudin Center for Transportation has identified communities that are substantially underserved by the public transportation system. The Rudin Center ranked New York City’s 177 neighborhoods according to the number of jobs accessible from the neighborhoods by transit, within 60 minutes and completed by 9:00 a.m. on a Monday morning. This analysis reveals high variation in levels of transit access across New York affect residents’ employment levels, travel modes and incomes. This report seeks to affect the implementation of new policies and transit services to increase economic opportunity for New Yorkers, and ensure that the transportation system is fully leveraged to connect workers with jobs. These improvements will benefit all New Yorkers’ access to job opportunities and economic mobility.

Mitchell L. Moss, Sam Levy, Jorge Hernandez, Jeff Ferzoco and Sarah M. Kaufman 2015. Manhattan moves, even with the Pope. Mitchell L. Moss, Sam Levy, Jorge Hernandez, Jeff Ferzoco and Sarah M. Kaufman. "Manhattan moves, even with the Pope." NYU Rudin Center for Transportation, September 22, 2015.
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Pope Francis’ visit to the United States is an historic event that will disrupt life in Philadelphia, Washington D.C., but not in New York City. In Washington D.C., federal government workers are being advised to telecommute. Philadelphia is towing cars and shutting down roads and transit in the event area. For New Yorkers, the Papal visit will limit mobility in some parts of Manhattan, but only for limited time periods. With the nation’s largest subway system and municipal police department, New York is accustomed to large-scale events and high-profile visitors like the Dalai Lama, the President of the United States and foreign leaders coming to the United Nations.

Sarah M. Kaufman, Lily Gordon-Koven, Nolan Levenson and Mitchell L. Moss 2015. Citi Bike: The First Two Years Sarah M. Kaufman, Lily Gordon-Koven, Nolan Levenson and Mitchell L. Moss, Citi Bike: The First Two Years. NYU Rudin Center, June 2015.
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New York City launched Citi Bike, the largest bike share program in the United States, in May 2013. This study examines the first two years of Citi Bike and its role in New York City mobility. Citi Bike’s station connection to public transportation hubs and station density are major factors in the system’s high ridership and use. Seventy-four percent of Citi Bike stations are within a five-minute walk of a subway station entrance, providing a “last mile” solution for transit commuters. The system’s greatest challenges are expanding and diversifying its customer base while also rebalancing the number of bicycles available at high-demand stations. Citi Bike has become an integral part of New York’s transportation culture, even though it serves a limited geographic area. This report addresses those challenges and recommends strategies for the future.


Kaufman, Sarah 2014. Co-Monitoring for Transit Management NYU Rudin Center for Transportation, February 2014.
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Emerging technologies offer transit agencies an opportunity to transform fundamental aspects of their operations and the way they communicate with their riders.  With nearly ubiquitous smartphones and social media tools among growing ridership patterns, transit providers can use aggregate mobile phone data and social media posts to improve system management.

Data-based reports can reach the operations center faster than field personnel, with mobile phone networks indicating station crowding or a passenger posting a photo of another pulling the emergency brake. Exceeding traditional reporting mechanisms (exclusive information from personnel) would save time and lower the costs of field monitoring while raising the trust between transit agencies and their customers.

By employing “co-monitoring” - the monitoring of field conditions through a combination of staff reports, data analysis and public observations – transit agencies will save time and costs for information gathering, improve their responsiveness, and establish working partnerships between the agencies and their customers. This report proposes a framework for a co-monitoring system, and discusses the expected benefits and challenges, as well as policy recommendations for agencies pursuing co-monitoring systems. Keys to successful co-monitoring systems are agency openness to new streams of data and respectful dialogue from both management and riders. Well-designed co-monitoring tools will put transit on track to manage smarter, more versatile transit systems for the twenty-first century.


Sarah M. Kaufman and Susan Bregman 2013. What’s the Worst That Can Happen? Social Media Protocols and Policies In Best Practices for Transportation Agency Use of Social Media, CRC Press, October 2, 2013.
Book website

Timely updates, increased citizen engagement, and more effective marketing are just a few of the reasons transportation agencies have already started to adopt social media networking tools. Best Practices for Transportation Agency Use of Social Media offers real-world advice for planning and implementing social media from leading government practitioners, academic researchers, and industry experts.

The book provides an overview of the various social media platforms and tools, with examples of how transportation organizations use each platform. It contains a series of interviews that illustrate what creative agencies are doing to improve service, provide real-time updates, garner valuable information from their customers, and better serve their communities. It reveals powerful lessons learned from various transportation agencies, including a regional airport, city and state departments of transportation, and municipal transit agencies. 

Filled with examples from transportation organizations, the text provides ideas that can apply to all modes of transportation including mass transit, highways, aviation, ferries, bicycling, and walking. It describes how to measure the impact of your social media presence and also examines advanced uses of social media for obtaining information by involving customers and analyzing their social media use. 

The book outlines all the resources you will need to maintain a social media presence and describes how to use social media analytical tools to assess service strengths and weaknesses and customer sentiment. Explaining how to overcome the digital divide, language barriers, and accessibility challenges for patrons with disabilities, it provides you with the understanding of the various social media technologies along with the knowhow to determine which one is best for a specific situation and purpose.


Sarah M. Kaufman 2013. Social Media in Disaster Preparation, Response, and Recovery TR News July-August 2013: Logistics of Disaster Response
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Social media have become an essential source of information before, during, and after disasters. Social networks like Twitter, Facebook, and Tumblr—instantaneous, far-reaching, and interactive— have become the convergence point for a range of information sources, dialogues, and dynamic content. A survey conducted by the New York University (NYU) Rudin Center for Transportation Policy and Management found that during Superstorm Sandy, social media were the second-highest-rated source of information, ranking higher than other popular sources such as television and radio news, news websites, and community groups.


Kaufman, Sarah. 2012. How Social Media Moves New York, Part 2: Recommended Social Media Policy for Transportation Providers NYU Rudin Center for Transportation, December 2012
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Social media networks allow transportation providers to reach large numbers of people simultaneously and without a fee, essential factors for the millions of commuters and leisure travelers moving through the New York region every day. This report, based on earlier findings (from Part 1), which analyzed local transportation providers’ use of social media, and a seminar on the subject in the wake of Hurricane Sandy, recommends social media policies for transportation providers seeking to inform, engage and motivate their customers.

The goals of social media in transportation are to inform (alert riders of a situation), motivate (to opt for an alternate route), and engage (amplify the message to their friends and neighbors). To accomplish these goals, transportation providers should be:

- Accessible: Easily discovered through multiple channels and targeted information campaigns

- Informative: Disseminating service information at rush hour and with longer-form discussions on blogs as needed

- Engaging: Responding directly to customers, marketing new services, and building community

- Responsive: Soliciting and internalizing feedback and self-evaluating in a continuous cycle

Kaufman, Sarah, Carson Qing, Nolan Levenson and Melinda Hanson 2012. Transportation During and After Hurricane Sandy Rudin Center for Transportation, NYU Wagner Graduate School of Public Service, November 2012
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Hurricane Sandy demonstrated the strengths and limits of the transportation infrastructure in New York City and the surrounding region. As a result of the timely and thorough preparations by New York City and the MTA, along with the actions of city residents and emergency workers to evacuate and adapt, the storm wrought far fewer casualties than might have occurred otherwise.

This report evaluates storm preparation and response by New York City and the MTA, discusses New Yorkers' ingenuity in work continuity, and recommends infrastructure and policy improvements.

Kaufman, Sarah M. 2012. How Social Media Moves New York: Twitter Use by Transportation Providers in the New York Region October 2012
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Social media networks are valuable tools for the public outreach needs of transportation providers: they are free, instantaneous, reach large numbers of people simultaneously, and allow for sideline discussions. When transportation providers are trying to notify large numbers of passengers about delays, drivers about construction work, or bus riders about re-routes, they can “blast” messages through social media channels to reach their intended audience immediately (the audience accesses these networks far more frequently than the websites of their local transportation agencies). The goals of social media in transportation are to inform (alert riders of a situation), motivate (to opt for an alternate route), and engage (amplify the message to their friends and neighbors). Ideally, these actions would occur within minutes of an incident.

This report analyzes the use of social media tools by the New York region’s major transportation providers. It is focused on the effectiveness of their Twitter feeds, which were chosen for their immediacy and simplicity in messaging, and provided a common denominator for comparison between the various transportation providers considered, both public and private. Based on this analysis, recommendations are outlined for improving social media outreach. A subsequent report will propose policies and recommendations for enhanced information and engagement with users.

Kaufman, Sarah M. 2012. Augmented Reality and Urban Exploration July 2012

Augmented Reality is beginning to shift the landscape of urban exploration, making the experience ever-more informative, from language translation applications to cultural enrichment tools. It will lead people to be more informed, advertised to, and assisted on every urban excursion, removing the traditional happenstance from urban exploration. It is unclear whether Augmented Reality (AR) will truly enhance experiences, lead to over-saturation of information and advertising, or a combination of the two. This paper will discuss the current and near-future uses of AR for city dwellers and the projected implications of ubiquitous information.

Kaufman, Sarah M. 2012. Getting Started with Open Data, A Guide for Transportation Agencies May, 2012
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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.

Moss, Mitchell L., Carson Y. Qing, and Sarah Kaufman. 2012. Commuting to Manhattan, A study of residence location trends for Manhattan workers from 2002 to 2009 March 2012
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Manhattan, a global center of  finance, culture, fashion and media, harnesses a workforce of 2 million people. Regionally, Manhattan is the business hub for the New York metropolitan area, with commuters entering the city every morning from the other four boroughs,  suburban counties in New Jersey, the Hudson Valley, western Connecticut, and Long Island, and distant locations, such as eastern Pennsylvania. The workforce of Manhattan is both growing and changing. There is a growing set of high-income, service-related occupations, and an increasing number of workers are residing in the outer boroughs or to the west, across the Hudson River in New Jersey. In fact, Manhattan now has 59,000 “super-commuters” who do not live within the metropolitan region. This report examines key trends in the residential location of Manhattan workers and will also discuss the travel, occupation, and income characteristics of Manhattan workers living in the surrounding metropolitan region. Finally, we explore the strength, resilience and vitality of Manhattan as a global economic and cultural hub in the 21st century.

In the Press

Catching a Tune, and Then the Bus, at the Port Authority
The New York Times
In safety and reliability, Metro ranks in middle of the pack of nation’s big systems
Washington Post
Uber is using a tax 'loophole' to make its rides cheaper
Business Insider
Self-driving cars will displace Uber drivers and make the open road a thing of the past
AM New York
Driverless cars panel hosted by Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer
AM New York
Good News: The Tech to Change Your Grandma’s Life Is Already Here
Proposed Changes to the MTA's Pricey Access-A-Ride Program Could Improve Service, Save Millions, Advocates Say
How Transit Agencies Can Offer Better Paratransit Service at Lower Costs
Can New York Save Itself From the L Train?
Why It’s Taking Fooorever to Get Countdown Clocks in NYC’s Subway
NYU propone alternativas para suspensión del tren L
El Diario
TLC prepares for Taxi TV's termination by testing tablets with Wi-Fi and valuable apps
NY Daily News
Transit Pros Rebuild the NYC Subway—in an Online Game
New Yorkers in Subway Deserts Have Advice for L Train Riders: ‘Suck It Up’
The New York Times
App-Based Taxi Service Charging No More Than $5 for Most Trips in Manhattan - If You Are Willing to Share the Ride
Crosswalk LEDs Let You Play Pokemon Go Without Dying (Maybe)
Stuck in Traffic (Video)
Popular Mechanics
Gridlock Live with Sarah Kaufman
Popular Mechanics
Uber marks 5 years of changing transportation game in NYC
AM New York
Transit: The Gender Difference
Second Avenue Sagas
MTA to solicit proposals for 'New Fare Payment System,' taking first step in finding MetroCard replacement
NY Daily News
Getting Around the City With the Elderly
Wall Street Journal
Google and the Feds Team Up to Build the City of the Future
The People vs. the Staten Island Bus Network
Urban Omnibus
Does Staten Island Get Enough Transit Funding?
Uptown Radio
First bus hackathon focuses on solutions for Staten Island service
Politico New York
Google’s City-Fixing ‘Sidewalk Labs’ Is Finally Getting to Work
Tech-savvy bus riders wanted for MTA hackathon
New York City can use an app to pay parking meters by end of 2016, de Blasio says
AM New York
Hundreds of Uber drivers striking over fare decrease
AM New York

NBC Nightly News
Regulating Uber and Lyft
Fox 5 News
Initiative seeks tech upgrade for Access-A-Ride
Politico New York
On the bus in Miami-Dade, and not happy about it
Miami Herald
The Great Subway Map War of 1978, revisited
The Verge
NYU urban planners counter pope-visit gridlock predictions
Capital New York
Taxi carpooling app Bandwagon says it can save passengers money and help with NYC traffic
Daily News
City releases data for millions of cab trips
AM New York
New York City: Uber's latest battle ground
CBS News
Citi Bike Tackles Biking's Gender Gap
Yellow cab trips declining in NYC, according to TLC data
AM New York
Citi Bike is missing out on female riders
A Mission for Citi Bike: Recruiting More Female Cyclists
The New York Times
A Smart Car on Train Tracks Won't Fix Our Transit Woes
Experts: Convenience Of NYC Living Causing More Street Congestion
CBS Local
MTA bus ridership plummeting, statistics show
Surprise, Surprise: Most New Yorkers Have Lousy Commutes
The key to a shorter NYC commute? Location, location, location
New York Post
Can Inrix Fix the Traffic Problem?
425 Business
The Taxi Dave Radio Show
The Taxi Dave Radio Show
City eyes cabbies’ hours in bid to solve rush-hour taxi crunch
New York Post
What Mass Transit Can Learn From Elitist Buses Like Leap
Social Media Keeps Transit Agencies Informed About its Riders
Government Technology
Transit apps that aim to improve the MTA experience
Tardy Transit? Tweet About It
Government Technology
The Year of the Bike Commuter
Next City
Uber launching uberPOOL for carpooling
AM New York
Meet the startups trying to stop pedestrian deaths
The Verge
How Big Data Makes Roadways and Cities Smarter
‘Big Ideas’ for transit: subway beacons, data stories, smart helmets
Capital New York
Schöne Aussicht statt volle U-Bahn
North Hempstead councilwoman proposes ride-sharing app for Port Washington
The Totally Serious Plan to Connect Brooklyn and Manhattan by Gondola
A System to Cut City Traffic That Just Might Work
Gondolas over NYC
Fox NY News
Transportation Nation Moving Stories
WNYC Transportation Nation
The Busiest Bike in New York (and More Interesting Citi Bike Data)
Next City
Citi Bikes Are a Wild Success, But Will They Survive?
Announcing the #PDF14 Google Fellows!
Citi Bike shows huge gender divide
Black Business Now
Weekend round-up
The Transit Wire
Why Do So Few Women Use Citi Bike?
Men Are From Midtown, Women Are From Brooklyn
WNYC Transportation Nation
Citi Bike fixes: Experts offer suggestions for ailing system
48 Madcap Hours in the Life of Citi Bike
The Atlantic Cities
New York's Citi Bike Program Releases Historical Trip Data
We're Citibiking to Work, Not Play
WNYC Transportation Nation
Subway riders offer their tips for subway travel
AM New York
#MTA to keep track of riders who use social media
AM New York
More subway stations to get wireless, cell service
AM New York
Solving a Deadly Traffic Puzzle
West Side Spirit
TN MOVING STORIES: Transpo News Links from Around the Web
Transportation Nation
MTA’s Bus Time program arrives in Manhattan
Washington Square News
Data Driven: New Program to Fix New York City's Streets
The Wall Street Journal
East Coast prepares for the next superstorm
Metro New York
City-wide bikeshare program coming in May
Washington Square News
How Data Is Helping Riders To Make Sense Of Their Transit System
Gotham Gazette
Hurricane Sandy: Apple’s bobbing
Roads and Bridges Magazine
Social Media Recommendations for Public Transit Providers
Google Policy By the Numbers
Subway's App Future Arrives for Some
The Wall Street Journal
Using social media to inform and engage transportation customers
The Transit Wire
G train catch-22
The Brooklyn Paper
Why New York's Transit System Fared So Well During Sandy
The Atlantic Cities
Adaptive Transportation: Bicycling Through Sandy’s Aftermath
Project for Public Spaces
Survey Says: After Hurricane Sandy, Cyclists Were NYC's Commuter Kings
Sandy Data Shows NYC Commuters Are Transpo-Adaptable: Report
WNYC Transportation Nation
NY commuters still struggling through post-storm transit mess
Mapping Mobility: The Importance of Information in Transportation [Commentary]
The City Fix
Infographic: How Far Can You Travel on a Single Subway Fare?
WNYC Transportation Nation
Twitter's Importance to Transportation
Google Policy By the Numbers
The 2012 Next American Vanguard Class
Next American City