Category Archives: transit

What We’re Reading

In addition to preparing for the UTRC’s symposium, we’ve been busy keeping up with this week’s transportation news. Here’s our weekly round-up:

  • Veronique Hakim Is Named President of New York City Transit
  • Neither Taxi nor Bus
  • MBTA pilot taxi partnership could include Uber
  • MTA rider survey shows greater dissatisfaction with subway
  • When a robot car makes a mistake, a human always gets the ticket
  • Commuters taking long bus to trips to avoid paying for rails, DOT says
  • A City Choking on Cars Hopes Commuters Will Return to Two Wheels
  • Blackout Takes You Inside The Minds Of NYC Subway Commuters
  • Program Recap: Emerging Leaders in Transportation 2015

    The NYU Rudin Center concluded our Emerging Leaders in Transportation program last week, wrapping up three weeks of seminars with industry leaders and behind-the-scenes tours of local transportation facilities.

    Program participants explored innovation and leadership in the context of their careers and engaged in intense discussions about essential skills, managing politics and promoting their ideas.

    This year’s speakers:

    The group visited the NYCT Rail Control Center and the Citi Bike Warehouse for inside perspectives on operations and challenges.

    The program concluded with participants making two-minute pitches about innovations they would like to develop in their workplaces.

    The 2015 Emerging Leaders in Transportation program was a major success. Thanks to the many transportation professionals who took the time participate as speakers, to the program alumni and guests who provided feedback on pitches, and to this year’s fellows who brought their best ideas and enthusiasm.

    Emerging Leaders in Transportation was directed and moderated by Sarah Kaufman, NYU Rudin Center and supported by the University Transportation Research Center.

    What We’re Reading This Week

    This week, the Rudin Center discussed transportation options at the urban periphery as part of the Van Alen Institue’s fall festival Periphery! At this event, Sarah Kaufman, the Rudin Center’s assistant director for technology programming announced the Rudin Center’s latest project, “Intelligent Paratransit,” funded by a grant from TransitCenter. You can read a re-cap of the event, along with a synopses of the presentations, here. In addition, on Thursday morning, we welcomed “Gridlock Sam,” for a discussion of his book “Street Smart.” In addition to his book, this week we’re reading about:

    Event Recap: Peripheral Proposals

    Equity. Achieving greater equity in NYC’s transportation systems is a challenge that each presenter explored at Monday night’s Peripheral Proposals event at the Van Alen Institute. This event was part of the Van Alen Institute’s fall festival, Periphery!, which seeks to explore the ever-evolving edges of cities.

    Peripheral Proposals re-capped:

    • Sarah Kaufman, our assistant director for technology programming here at the Rudin Center, announced the Rudin Center’s latest project, “Intelligent Paratransit,” funded by a grant from TransitCenter. The project, beginning with a close look at current paratransit practices and system updates, will explore ways tech can be applied to improve service and simultaneously reduce costs–especially important given the context of an increasingly large aging population.
    • Eric Goldwyn, doctoral candidate at Columbia University, presented snippets of his explorations of Brooklyn’s dollar vans. His research follows changes to dollar van routes along Flatbush Avenue and the population/demographic changes that they mirror. Discussing the overlap of dollar-van routes and bus routes, he argued that there are no “transit deserts” in NYC, saying instead that many New Yorkers “have adequate access to inadequate services.” Whether a complement to the bus system or a detractor, Goldwyn points to the apparent void that dollar-vans fill for so many commuters and that their very existence along bus routes is evidence of inadequate service. Conclusion?  Bus service is in need of a re-design.
    • David R. Jones, President & CEO of the Community Service Society, brought the audience’s attention to the financial periphery with a discussion of the affordability of NYC’s transit system from the perspective of the poorest of New Yorkers. His take-away? Given the current state of transportation funding in NYC, in order to provide reduced or free fares to those who need them most, a revenue stream must be identified to provide the funds to fill that gap.
    • Joanne Rausen, Assistant Commissioner of Data & Technology at the NYC Taxi and Limousine Commission, described the TLC’s efforts to make their data available to innovators and their own use of data to improve service. But, she also took the time to acknowledge that these innovations come with some difficulty as both users and providers have concerns about privacy and how the data is used. The nugget I pulled from Joanne’s presentation is that infrastructure is not just about physical structures anymore, but also about IT.
    • Lastly, Douglas Adams of the Waterfront Alliance concluded the presentations with an overview of NYC’s plans for an expanded  ferry system. Adams mentioned several important frontiers needing innovation, including better connections to other modes of transit, which may come naturally with increased density along NYC’s waterfront, and the deployment of ferry service as a critical transit alternative should one of the Hudson River tunnels come offline.
    • One brief proposal was mentioned by Adrian Untermyer selected from the Rudin Center Emerging Leaders program to respond to the panelists. In his capacity as Deputy Director of the Historic Districts Council, he hopes to bring new life, through the arts, into the Port Authority Bus Terminal.

    In summary, many New Yorkers find themselves at the periphery, where reliable transportation options may not be available or may not come in an officially recognized form. It is at this periphery that innovation and leadership are most needed.

    Pro-tip of the night: The question of how to successfully push for policy change was floated to the panel, in an answer slightly reminiscent of the godfather’s offer, Sarah Kaufman responded, “Present a solution that’s too good to be ignored.”

    Photos by Kait Ebinger.

    What We’re Reading

    As we gear up for innovation-focused presentations by our Emerging Leaders this morning, we’re reflecting on this past week in transportation, from a round-up of our favorite transportation-inspired costumes–these adorable pups with wheels, the new Hudson Yards Station, pizza rat, and this “FleshDirect” set-up in Park Slope–to a look at transportation news:

    Upcoming Rudin events:

    Photo by Timothy Vogel/Flickr.

    This week’s bonus is a special musical celebration of transit nerdery, “Movin’ On” as performed by the band TSUB Analysis, an “Americana/Bluegrass/Indie” group of transit professionals from Denver, CO:

    What We’re Reading This Week

    It’s literally been eventful this week at the Rudin Center! From the Cooper Union’s subway map event on Tuesday where our own Sarah Kaufman presented on the possibilities of user-oriented urban wayfinding, to Wednesday’s event with Shashi Verma of Transport for London, to today’s meeting of our Emerging Leaders in Transportation program. To keep fueling these discussions, here’s what we’re reading this week:

    Don’t be out of the loop this weekend! Take a look at NYC Marathon road closures here: NYC Marathon street closures and traffic guide

    Upcoming Rudin events:

    Photo by Stephen Weppler/Flickr

    Event: “Street Smart: The Rise of Cities and the Fall of Cars?” with Sam Schwartz

    Thursday, November 12th from 9:00 a.m. to 10:00 a.m.
    The Puck Building, The Rudin Family Forum for Civic Dialogue
    295 Lafayette Street, New York, NY 10012-9604

    Join us to hear Sam, aka Gridlock Sam, Schwartz talk about his new book Street Smart: The Rise of Cities and The Fall of Cars. You’ll be taken on a journey from Ebett’s Field in the 1950’s to Barclays Center today and discover how the ways we get around shape the places we live.

    Register here.

    “A readable and provocative book making the convincing claim that the best city is one in which people can move around easily.” —Kirkus Reviews

    Shashi Verma of Transport for London spoke at the Rudin Center

    Shashi Verma, Director of Customer Experience at Transport for London, spoke at the Rudin Center on Wednesday, October 28th about London’s experience with next-gen fare collection systems, making the point that customers don’t want a ticket, they want transportation. During his time at TfL, Verma has focused on ways to drive down the costs associated with revenue collection and redirect those funds to improve the customer experience.
    Verma’s presentation focused on how London has implemented contactless card payments and how this has and will continue to shape the London transit system. He noted that 20 percent of England’s contactless card transactions are TfL-related. The crowd was amazed to learn that riders are refunded automatically when they are significantly delayed by signal failures or other issues.

    Photos by Don Pollard.

    What We’re Reading This Week

    Today we host the first session of our Emerging Leaders in Transportation program at NYU Wagner; we’re very excited to welcome this year’s fellows and thankful for the participation of today’s guest speakers Mary K. Murphy (North Jersey Transportation Planning Authority), Daniel Baer (Parsons Brinckerhoff), and William Carry (NYCDOT).

    Transportation leadership goes hand-in-hand with keeping up on current news, so here’s our weekly round-up:

    And, just for fun:
    These images show how far self-driving cars have come in a few short years

    Coming up:
    Tuesday, October 27, 2015- “THE SUBWAY MAP: THE LAST 50 YEARS, THE NEXT 50 YEARS” at The Cooper Union.
    Wednesday, October 28, 2015- LEARNING FROM LONDON at NYU Wagner.
    Monday, November 9, 2015- PERIPHERAL PROPOSALS : MODELS FOR COMMUTING FROM THE MARGINS at the Van Alen Institute.

    Event: Learning from London with Shashi Verma

    Wednesday, October 28, 2015
    Doors Open: 1:30 p.m.; Event Time: 2:00-3:00 p.m.

    At NYU Wagner
    The Puck Building
    295 Lafayette, 2nd Floor
    New York, NY 10012

    Please RSVP to Gwen Rocco at

    Sponsored by Cubic Transportation Systems

    Join the Rudin Center and NYU Wagner as we host Shashi Verma, Director of Customer Experience at Transport for London, for a discussion of how we can learn from London.

    About Shashi Verma
    As Director of Customer Experience at Transport for London (TfL), Shashi is responsible for operation of revenue collection systems, including the Oyster card; advising the Mayor of London on fares and ticketing policy; and running TfL’s customer service operations. Previously, Shashi was a Senior Principal in Corporate Finance with responsibility for Crossrail, a £16 billion project for the next railway in London.

    About Transport for London
    London’s Oyster ticketing system has been a success over the last decade, with nearly 10 million cards in regular use and 17 million transactions daily. Oyster has removed congestion at key stations, improved bus speed, and reduced fraud. TfL also developed an open payments system that, along with other measures, has reduced the cost of revenue collection from 14% to 9%.

    Photo by Michael Summers on Flickr