Charles Cohen

Master of Urban Planning

Charles Cohen

Can you tell us a bit about your job responsibilities?

The Excelsior Service Fellowship Program is a New York State program that places recently graduated policy and law students  in two-year fellowships with public agencies after they complete their degree. In my fellowship with MTA, one of my many roles is to analyze and think strategically about accessibility metrics reported through NYC Transit’s Elevator and Escalator Performance and Accessibility Dashboards. These dashboards include metrics on accessible subway platform availability, Reduced-Fare MetroCard usage, and bus ramp/lift deployment. I work to ensure reporting on these metrics remains consistent and seek ways to enhance the data collection, analysis, and presentation. This includes creating new metrics that may help track utilization of the accessibility features within this system as well as our progress toward achieving system wide accessibility goals, not just for New York City, but the metropolitan region as well through the Metro North and Long Island Rail Road.

Please describe why you chose NYU Wagner for graduate school?

I was living in Chicago working as a paralegal when I started working with a local Alderman working as a volunteer regarding transportation in the Ward I lived in. After a year, it became clear to me that I wanted to shift careers into city planning and community building. I chose Wagner because it allowed me to work, research, and learn in New York City, the greatest metropolis in the nation and with some of the smartest minds in the field. Wagner stresses its education both in and out of the classroom, and real world experience was something I really wanted.

Please describe what impact you hope to make through your career and/or organization?

I hope that I can make a real impact on the overall accessibility of the city's subway and bus system. Not just thinking about those with disabilities, but for parents with strollers who use the system, for those who are elderly and need additional information on their reduced fare packages, and help make the system equitable for all. Everyone in New York uses the MTA, and I want to make sure that it continues to be the case.