Category Archives: smart cities

Current research: Intelligent Paratransit

The NYU Rudin Center’s current work surrounds “Intelligent Paratransit,” a project to re-frame mobility for the elderly and disabled using modern ridesharing technologies.

Through this work, the NYU Rudin Center for Transportation aims to find technological solutions to making paratransit across the country more cost- and time-efficient, and a better experience for its customers. We are analyzing paratransit systems worldwide, evaluating potential improvements for reservations, dispatch and routing, and recommending strategies for incorporating new technology into existing systems.

The NYU Rudin Center hosted advisory group sessions to discuss the implications of changes and advances in policy, technology, and operations as they apply to paratransit in the US and collaborate on potential solutions. The project advisory group consists of stakeholders from the public, private, non-profit and advocacy sectors.

The Intelligent Paratransit report will be released in the summer of 2016.

Intelligent Paratransit is led by Sarah M. Kaufman, NYU Rudin Center Assistant Director, and is funded by grants from TransitCenter and The New York Community Trust.


2015-2016 Rudin Center Highlights

The Rudin Center has had a busy academic year so far producing events, original research, and engaging activities.

In the past year, the Rudin Center hosted a wide-variety of events, including speeches by:

To see more recent Rudin events, click here.

The Rudin Center analyzes transportation policy and management in New York City and beyond. The results of our analysis is often published as a report or publication on the Rudin Center site.

Recent Reports:

Just last month, the Rudin Center hosted the first ever NYC Bus Hackathon in partnership with the MTA and supported by TransitCenter. A full review of the event can be read here.

Rudin Center reports and publications are often cited in news articles. Additionally, Rudin Center staff are frequently asked for comment on transportation issues. Included below are some examples of press coverage:

  • Sarah Kaufman in Wired, “Google and the Feds Team Up to Build the City of the Future” (Link)
  • Mitchell Moss in AMNY, “L train could face Manhattan-Brooklyn shutdowns in 2017” (Link)
  • NYU Rudin Report in Politico New York, “NYU urban planners counter pope-visit gridlock predictions” (Link)

For more Rudin Center in the news click here.

What We’re Reading This Week

School is out for spring break this week, but we’re busy preparing for NYU Wagner’s Admitted Students Day on April 1st and reading up on this week’s transportation news. Take a look:

A Groundbreaking Hackathon

The Staten Island Bus Hackathon, organized by the NYU Rudin Center, TransitCenter and the MTA was a resounding success and an unprecedented event. Held on Saturday, March 5th, It was highly attended and produced many implementable solutions.

Approximately 150 participants – coders, planners and other interested attendees – joined the event held at LMHQ in Lower Manhattan. Fifteen proposals for reforming Staten Island Bus service were submitted and presented.

Three prizes were awarded:

  • Grand Prize: “How to Optimize Express Bus Routes in Staten Island,” by Sri Kanajan (link)
  • Best Solution for Express Bus Service: “Better Than The Subway,” by Colin Foley, Maria Carey, Raymond Cha, Larry Gould and David McCreery (link)
  • Best Solution for Local Bus Service: “Buses in SI,” by Austin Krauza, Jenny Ye, Adam Davidson, Sunny Zheng and Steve Bauman (link)

All submissions can be viewed in the gallery.

The event was hosted by NYU Rudin Center Assistant Director Sarah Kaufman and TransitCenter Program Manager Tabitha Decker. The program featured several prominent presenters:

  • TransitCenter’s Executive Director, David Bragdon, welcomed the attendees.
  • Staten Island Borough President James Oddo discussed key transportation concerns and his high hopes for the hackathon’s outcomes.
  • The data and Staten Island Bus Study were introduced by MTA NYCT planners Jonathan Hawkins and Chris Pangalinan.
  • Key tools to be used by hackers were introduced by Felipe Hoffa (Google) and Jeff Ferzoco (CartoDB).
  • Chris Whong of CartoDB delivered the lunchtime keynote, hitting on several key ingredients necessary for successful civic hacking.

The hackathon submissions were judged by:

  • John Gaul, Vice President, 21st Century Service Delivery, MTA New York City Transit
  • Manasvi Menon, Senior Strategic Consultant, Intersection
  • Shin-pei Tsay, Deputy Executive Director, TransitCenter
  • Sarah Wyss, Senior Director, Bus Service Planning, MTA New York City Transit

The hackathon was a highly successful event showcasing the importance and value of public participation in planning and the power of data-based solutions.

Photos below and at our photo gallery.

What We’re Reading This Week

Tomorrow the Rudin Center, in partnership with TransitCenter and  the MTA, with support from Carto DB and Google, will host the Staten Island Bus Hackathon. This hackathon, the first of its kind in NYC, is an opportunity for civic-minded technologists and planners to produce proposals for faster, more effective bus transit for Staten Island, where the bus network is being updated for the first time in decades. We are proud to say that the Hackathon is at capacity, so we hope you’ll stay tuned for a recap of the event and highlighted solutions!

In the meantime, here’s our weekly round-up of transportation news:

A Tokyo (Transit) Story

Blog post written by Rudin Center graduate reasearch assistant Jorge Hernandez.

As a daily MTA subway rider and transplant New Yorker, the thought of visiting Tokyo and riding the Tokyo Metro was initially underwhelming. What other subway system in the world boasts 469 stations, over 600 mainline track miles, and averages just under 6 million weekday rides?

To my my surprise, the Tokyo Subway system – consisting of the Toei Subway and Tokyo Metro – not only fares well in comparison to the NYC subway system, but in many ways provides better service.
The Tokyo subway system serviced over 3.2 billion rides in 2014 (compared to NYC’s 1.7 billion in 2014) and averages over 8 million daily rides. It is made up of 13 lines, with 285 stations, running a total of 189 track miles. While the subway system is composed of two separate transit agencies, it is not jarred by bureaucratic red-tape and operational mismanagement one has come to expect of US systems. In fact, during my short experience with the system, the Tokyo subway upheld high Japanese standards for management, quality, and innovation.
My initial reactions to the subway system were primarily qualitative and centered on the following subject areas: 1. Cleanliness; 2. Organizational; 3. Aesthetics; and 4. Usability.


Simply put – everything was clean. From stations to track, there was no trash to be seen, despite having vending machines throughout the entire network. One would be hard-pressed to find any form of litter on a track or in subway car. Additionally, there was no shortage of public restrooms and more importantly, you did not feel as if you were risking your life by entering and using them. This level of detail is not just operational but also cultural. When people are proud of something they own or use they are more prone to take ownership and care of it – as is evident in Tokyo.


While many might cringe at the thought of having to abide by rules on the subway, everything about the subway in Tokyo was orderly and efficient. Throughout the stations and subway cars there were arrows that led you up and down stairs, clearly marked dividers to ease the flow of traffic, and queues for those entering subway cars. The degree to which riders are organized, combined with the technological advancements of the system, creates efficiencies New Yorkers dream of experiencing. Throughout my entire experience, there were only two instances of train delays – each lasting merely seconds. Not a single rider appeared to have a sense of urgency or panic during rush hours; when trains were at capacity, riders were willing to wait for the next train since the arrival time of the next train was displayed throughout the station and could be expected to arrive without delays.


The Tokyo subway system is an exact representation of the Japanese aesthetic. Bright lights and retro colors fill the stations and subway cars, and also jingles that would excite any SEGA or Candy Crush aficionado. Throughout the network, stations are filled with retail shops, restaurants, and even food halls. Even in the busiest stations riders can find refuge in one of the many amenities provided. The subway cars are compact, slightly smaller than your standard MTA subway car, but provide overhead compartments and various handles to ensure maximum occupancy.


As a foreigner, I thought it was inevitable I would get lost using the subway. Surprisingly, this did not happen – mainly due to the way-finding signs, logical station numbering system, and place-finding redundancies. Two of the most useful tools were the maps of the corresponding line found at each subway platform and the numbering system used throughout the entire network. The numbering system allowed me to not have to memorize the name of stations, and instead simply determine the corresponding numbers of my departure and destination stations. For example, if I was going from Ueno (G16) to Omote-sando (G02) on the Ginza Line all I had to do was refer to the station number, and ensure the train was heading the right mathematical direction.

After my experiences in Tokyo, I now believe what truly separates a good system from an excellent system is a rider’s sentiment towards it. Riders must take pride in their transportation network, which will lead them to take better care of it and have a sense of ownership over it. But it must start with its operations and management.

Numbers from:
MTA, Facts & Figures, Subway &
Tokyo Metro, Business Situation,

What We’re Reading This Week

Video of the week: NYC Subway Train Operator’s Point of View – The Queens-bound 7 Line

Save the Date: Bus Hackathon

Join us on March 5th to rethink NYC bus planning for the 21st century. Save the date for a TransitCenter and NYU Rudin Center hackathon in partnership with MTA NYC Transit. More information and registration coming soon.

Saturday, March 5, 2016
9:00 a.m.

Register here.

What We’re Reading This Week

The Rudin Center office is back from break–which means we’re back to our weekly round-up of transportation news!

This week’s video highlights excerpts from Dr. Anthony Townsend’s talk—“Re-Programming Mobility 2030: Scenarios of Digital Transformation in Metropolitan America”—at Volpe’s Beyond Traffic speaker series on November 24, 2015.

Photo by Maximilian Goldmann on Flickr