Category Archives: urban planning

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
  • Updated: Mobility, Economic Opportunity and NYC Neighborhoods

    The NYU Rudin Center for Transportation has updated our January 2015 report: “Mobility, Economic Opportunity and New York City Neighborhoods,” focusing on the variations of job access by transit throughout New York City. The new edition includes this year’s new transit resources, such as the 7 line station and Select Bus Service routes.


    This research was supported by The Rockefeller Foundation and Google.

    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.

    World Trade Center Rebuilding Pays Off for Port Authority and the Region

    The general view of New Yorkers, the media, and the civic community has been that the rebuilding of the World Trade Center, while necessary, has come at a major cost to the Port Authority’s bottom line. Findings in a new report by the NYU Rudin Center, with the assistance of Appleseed, tell a different story: The World Trade Center project will ultimately generate enormous economic return for New York and the region, while preserving the Port Authority’s ability to invest in its core transportation assets.

    This analysis shows that the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey is poised to recover nearly all – between 97.4 and 98.6 percent – of its anticipated $16.76 billion investment in the rebuilding of the World Trade Center, and confirms that the redevelopment of the site has already generated substantial benefits for the New York-New Jersey region.

    Utilizing a wide range of data sources, the Rudin Center report accounts for Port Authority reimbursements and revenue from various sources, including:

    • Insurance proceeds – from both the Port Authority and Silverstein Properties’ insurers
    • Post-9/11 federal funding
    • Revenues from One World Trade Center
    • Ground lease payments from Silverstein Properties
    • Payments by Westfield for rights to the World Trade Center retail space
    • Income from the sale or lease of the 5 World Trade Center site

    Read the report in full here: Surprise! World Trade Center Rebuilding Pays Off for the Port Authority – And the Region

    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.

    Event Announcement: PERIPHERAL PROPOSALS : Models for Commuting from the Margins

    Monday, November 9
    Van Alen Institute
    30 W 22nd Street, New York, NY

    Subways are the primary mode of transportation in New York, but we need new ideas for atypical travelers: those who live on the city’s geographic and social edges. From off-the-grid dollar vans and mobile apps for commuters with limited accessibility, to ambitious proposals to connect the boroughs’ coastlines along ferry routes, we’ll explore how ad-hoc systems, new technologies, and innovating with antique infrastructure can expand transit equity.

    Participants: Eric Goldwyn, journalist; David R. Jones, president & CEO, Community Service Society; Sarah M. Kaufman, digital manager and assistant adjunct professor of planning, NYU Rudin Center for Transportation; Joanne Rausen, assistant commissioner, data & technology, NYC Taxi and Limousine Commission; Douglas Adams, Waterfront Alliance

    The discussion will also include new ideas from the NYU Rudin Center’s Emerging Leaders in Transportation Fellows.

    This event is presented in partnership with the Van Alen Institute.

    Purchase tickets here. Students qualify for free entry; please contact the Rudin Center for more information.

    Council Member Ydanis Rodriguez Releases Report at the NYU Rudin Center

    New York City Council Member and Transportation Committee Chair Ydanis Rodriguez spoke at the NYU Rudin Center this morning. He released a report, “Next Stop: Making Transportation Safe and More Efficient.” His multi-point plan for improving transportation safety in the city includes parts of Sam Schwartz’s Move NY traffic congestion plan, improving subway naming and platforms, and implementing taxi driver safety measures.

    Photos by Don Pollard.

    What We’re Reading This Week

    It’s October! We’re excited about what’s coming up this month, including next Monday’s “Making Transportation Safer and More Efficient in NYC” event with Council Member and Transportation Committee Chair Ydanis Rodriguez and upcoming workshops and field trips with our 2015 Emerging Leaders in Transportation. Without further ado, here’s what we’ve been reading this week:

    Photo by: m01229/Flickr

    What We’re Reading This Week

    What we’ve read online this week:

    • Super-commuting takes hold for more workers (Link)
    • Is Uber really about the transport? (Link)
    • Once again, the 7 train takes the top spot in subway rankings (Link)
    • Urban streetscape redesigns: before and after (Link)
    • Mayoral leadership and the 7 train opening  (Link)
    • Tour the Second Avenue Subway construction via drone (Link)
    • Peace of mind for walking home with this new app (Link)

    Photo by: Linh Nguyen                                                                                                       Post by: Sean Lewin (signing off from his internship today. Thanks for your fantastic work, Sean!)

    What We’re Reading This Week

    What we’ve read online:

    • With school back in session, a crackdown on lead-foot drivers (Link)
    • E-hails are legal, judge rules (Link)
    • Pilot for bus-mounted bike racks begins in Staten Island (Link)
    • In China, opting to kill pedestrians over maiming them (Link)
    • The bus system that has saved South Africa millions (Link)
    • 7 train extension set to open Sunday (Link)
    • Fun facts about the 7 line branching out to 11th ave (Link)

    Photo above by: Nekenasoa                                                                                          Post by: Sean Lewin