Mitchell L. Moss

Henry Hart Rice Professor of Urban Policy & Planning, Director of Rudin Center for Transportation Policy & Management

(212) 998-7547
The Puck Building
295 Lafayette Street
Room 2318
New York, NY 10012
By appointment only
Mitchell L. Moss
Mitchell L. Moss, Henry Hart Rice Professor of Urban Policy and Planning, and Director of the Rudin Center for Transportation, has been described as a “New Yorkologist” by The New York Times.  In 2017, he was appointed by Governor Andrew Cuomo to serve on the "FIX NYC" advisory group to identify ways to raise revenue for mass transit and to reduce congestion. 

Professor Moss has been on the faculty of New York University since 1973 and is also an Affiliated Professor of Civil and Urban Engineering in NYU's Tandon School of Engineering.  He served as an adviser to Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg during his first campaign for Mayor in 2001. From 1988 to 2003 he was Director of NYU’s Taub Urban Research Center and from 1983 to 2004 he was deputy to the Chairman of the Governor’s Council on Fiscal and Economic Priorities. Moss is currently a member of the Steering Committee of the Association for a Better New York. 

Professor Moss has directed research projects for the National Science Foundation, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, U.S. Department of Homeland Security, and has been a consultant to leading corporations and government agencies.  He has testified before the United States House of Representatives’ Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure and has been an expert witness in litigation before the United States District Court, Southern District of New York. Moss has been a guest lecturer at the Fire Department of New York's Advanced Management Institute and has also lectured to US military officers for the Institute for Defense and Business.  His essays have appeared in The New York Times, San Francisco Chronicle, The New York PostThe New York Observer and Politico.com, as well as in leading scholarly journals.

This course will provide undergraduate students with an understanding of the political and governmental processes that influence New York City. The course will explore the structure of the municipal government, the role of the mayor and city council, the way in which state and regional agencies affect public services, and the role of the media in the political life of New York City.

Download Syllabus

There is no profession more noble than public service, and no arena more exciting than New York. Our objective is to gain insight into how our city and state governments make decisions, informed by a foundational and wide-ranging understanding of the forces at work and issues that face policymakers today. I am teaching this class because of my longstanding—and ever-expanding—interest in the practice of public policy and a deeply held belief that the effectiveness of our government depends on the quality of those who serve in it. In the first half of the semester, we will examine the structures of New York City and State government and the recent historical and political context in which they operate. This background will be used in the second half of the semester to explore a range of public policy debates in areas such as economic development, transportation and infrastructure, public education, public safety and housing and homelessness. Emphasis throughout will be placed on the practicalities of decision-making and the messy, politicized and conflict-rich environment in which public policy is hammered out. We will be joined by a number of guest speakers from the worlds of journalism, government, business and advocacy.

Download Syllabus

This course will provide undergraduate students with an understanding of the political and governmental processes that influence New York City. The course will explore the structure of the municipal government, the role of the mayor and city council, the way in which state and regional agencies affect public services, and the role of the media in the political life of New York City.

Download Syllabus

There is no profession more noble than public service, and no arena more exciting than New York. Our objective is to gain insight into how our city and state governments make decisions, informed by a foundational and wide-ranging understanding of the forces at work and issues that face policymakers today. I am teaching this class because of my longstanding—and ever-expanding—interest in the practice of public policy and a deeply held belief that the effectiveness of our government depends on the quality of those who serve in it. In the first half of the semester, we will examine the structures of New York City and State government and the recent historical and political context in which they operate. This background will be used in the second half of the semester to explore a range of public policy debates in areas such as economic development, transportation and infrastructure, public education, public safety and housing and homelessness. Emphasis throughout will be placed on the practicalities of decision-making and the messy, politicized and conflict-rich environment in which public policy is hammered out. We will be joined by a number of guest speakers from the worlds of journalism, government, business and advocacy.

Download Syllabus

2018

Abstract

With the New York State Fiscal Year 2019 Executive Budget proposal to include a “value capture” mechanism for financing transit, an obscure and highly technical subject suddenly has generated considerable attention. This report explores the purpose of, and issues created by value capture generally, and by the current proposal. What is “value capture?” What are its uses? Has it ever been used successfully before in New York City?

Much of the favorable attention transit experts give to value capture stems from the Hong Kong model. In Hong Kong, the rail operator, MTR, builds rail lines financed through the profits from development above stations and depots along the route.1 Hong Kong has unique characteristics that facilitate this model, particularly its high density and scarcity of developable land, which make the rail right-of-way development particularly profitable. New York City used a similar strategy to finance the extension of the #7 subway to Hudson Yards in Manhattan.

While value capture has in the past successfully provided new revenue for the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s capital projects, the current proposal does not build successfully on past achievements. Rather, it diverts New York City’s largest and most stable tax source in a manner that could affect the City’s fiscal stability and limit the productive ways that the City has used value capture to funnel funding generated by private real estate development to the MTA.

2017

Abstract

Ridership on the New York City Subway has grown drastically in the last four decades, from 966 million in 1975 to 1.7 billion in 2015; at the Times Square subway station alone, rides increased by 29 million. This explosive growth in usage demonstrates the system’s importance to both the city and region. New York City’s 24-hour subway promotes a dynamic economy, livability, and connectivity giving residents access to economic opportunities and a quality of life that is unparalleled in most world cities.

Growth in subway ridership reflects the changes in New York City. This report addresses key moments in the City's history affecting subway ridership, including the high homicide rate in the 1980s, introduction of the MetroCard, attacks of September 11, 2001, Financial Crisis of 2008, and peak tourism numbers in 2010-2015.

The health and continued growth of the subway system is critical to New York City’s future, and must be maintained and upgraded to reflect New Yorkers’ increasing reliance. Recommended system upgrades are included in this report.

2016

Abstract

The L train tunnel between Manhattan and Brooklyn will close fully to trains for 18 months in 2019 to repair extensive damage from Superstorm Sandy.  The L has become synonymous with the Brooklyn brand; ridership at Brooklyn’s Bedford Avenue station has increased more than thirty percent since 2010.

The NYU Rudin Center addresses the effects of this closure in our newest report, "L Train Closure and Mitigation," written by Mitchell L. Moss, Sarah M. Kaufman, Jorge Hernandez and Sam Levy.

This report analyzes how the L train’s surrounding Brooklyn communities will absorb the economic impact of this tunnel closure: jobs, commutes dining and nightlife will be affected, and recommends mitigation measures.

Download the report [pdf]

Read the Wall Street Journal coverage.

Abstract

Of the many changes that have reshaped New York City during the past fifteen years, few have been as dramatic and as consequential as the emergence of Downtown Brooklyn as a major center of innovation, economic growth, and cultural development. This report examines the ongoing transformation of Downtown Brooklyn, why and how it has happened, and its implications for the borough and the city.

2015

Abstract

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.

Abstract

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.

Abstract

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.

Abstract

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.

Abstract

In 2011, the New York State Legislature approved and Governor Andrew Cuomo signed into law the New York State Infrastructure Investment Act. The new law authorized five state agencies – the Department of Transportation, the Department of Environmental Conservation, the Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation, the New York State Thruway Authority, and the New York State Bridge Authority – to manage the delivery of construction projects using a method known in the industry as “Design-Build.”

Design-Build is a form of project delivery in which a public agency or private sector owner enters into a single contract with a single entity (usually a construction firm) that takes full responsibility for both design and construction of the project. The 2011 law also authorized the five agencies to hire firms based on qualifications and innovation, not just the lowest bid.

When used appropriately, Design-Build can effectively reduce the time required to complete a project, reduce the cost of a project, provide clearer accountability for a project, and encourage more innovation in design and construction.

2014

Abstract

The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey has been a vital force in the physical and economic growth of the New York-New Jersey region. During the past few years, however, public attention has focused on the Port Authority’s spending, management, and political interference in the agency’s operations. In recent weeks, several sources have called for reform, restructuring, or even abolition of the Port Authority.

However, the critical problem facing the Port Authority today is not mismanagement, political abuse, or rivalry between New York and New Jersey. The fundamental challenge is that the business model under which the Authority has operated for the past thirty years is no longer sustainable. For the New York-New Jersey region to grow over the next fifty years, the Port Authority must rethink not only how it manages its business, but also how it defines what that business is.

2012

Abstract

Between 2010 and 2050, the number of people living in the world’s urban areas is expected to grow by 80 percent – from 3.5 billion to 6.3 billion. This growth will pose great challenges for urban mobility – for the networks of transportation facilities and services that maintain the flow of people and commerce into, out of and within the world’s cities.

Addressing the challenge of urban mobility is essential – for maintaining cities’ historic role as the world’s principal sources of innovation and economic growth, for improving the quality of life in urban areas and for mitigating the impact of climate change. It will require creative applications of new technologies, changes in the way transportation services are organized and delivered, and innovations in urban planning and design.

This report examines several aspects of the challenge of urban mobility in the twenty-first century – the growth of the world’s urban population, and changes in the characteristics of that population; emerging patterns of urban mobility; and changes in technology design and connectivity.

 

 

Abstract

This update to the “Emergence of the Super-Commuter” report released in February 2012 uses recently released 2010 home-to-work flows data from the U.S. Census Bureau’s Longitudinal Employer Household Dynamics OnTheMap tool to examine whether the super-commuting trend has continued to grow between 2009 and 2010, by analyzing 1-year and 8-year growth rates in where workers live. The report finds that while super-commuting growth rates have slowed between 2009 and 2010, the slowdown was primarily due to job market conditions, and super-commuting trends continue to outpace job growth trends in 9 out of the 10 counties profiled in this study. The report also distinguishes between two types of super-commuters: those who live along the combined metropolitan area’s periphery and those who travel less frequently and longer distances to each urban core county. It finds that for most cities, both types of super-commuters have been growing rapidly over the last decade, but these trends vary across cities.

Abstract

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.

Abstract

The twenty-first century is emerging as the century of the "super-commuter," a person who works in the central county of a given metropolitan area, but lives beyond the boundaries of that metropolitan area, commuting long distance by air, rail, car, bus, or a combination of modes. The super-commuter typically travels once or twice weekly for work, and is a rapidly growing part of our workforce. The changing structure of the workplace, advances in telecommunications, and the global pattern of economic life have made the super-commuter a new force in transportation.

Many workers are not required to appear in one office five days a week; they conduct work from home, remote locations, and even while driving or flying. The international growth of broadband internet access, the development of home-based computer systems that rival those of the workplace, and the rise of mobile communications systems have contributed to the emergence of the super-commuter in the United States. Super-commuters are well-positioned to take advantage of higher salaries in one region and lower housing costs in another.

Many workers are not expected to physically appear in a single office at all: the global economy has made it possible for highly-skilled workers to be employed on a strictly virtual basis, acquiring clients anywhere and communicating via email, phone and video conference. Furthermore, the global economy has rendered the clock irrelevant, making it possible for people to work, virtually, in a different time zone than the one in which they live. Simply put, the workplace is no longer fixed in one location, but rather where the worker is situated. As a result, city labor sheds (where workers live) have expanded over the past decade to encompass not just a city's exurbs, but also distant, non-local metropolitan regions, resulting in greater economic integration between cities situated hundreds of miles apart.

NYU's Rudin Center has found that super-commuting is a growing trend in major United States regions, with growth in eight of the ten largest metropolitan areas.

 

2011

Abstract

This report demonstrates that New York City has successfully achieved almost all of the key elements in the NYC2012 Olympic Plan, despite the fact that it was not chosen to host the 2012 Games. For New York City, planning for the 2012 Olympics provided the framework to shape the future of the city, through new mass transit, rezoning, and investment in parks, recreational facilities, and housing throughout the city. Long neglected and underused industrial areas have been transformed as a result of the NYC2012 Plan, including the far west side of Manhattan, which will soon be linked to the rest of the city through an extension of the #7 subway line. This report describes how many projects, long the subject of public discussion and civic debate, were able to be carried out as a result of the NYC2012 Olympic Plan.

Abstract

This study examines the role of mobile communications in urban transportation systems and analyzes American metropolitan regions best positioned to capitalize on the growth of mobile technologies. This paper identifies three critical factors—data accessibility, mobile network strength, and mobile tech user/developer demographics—and uses data from several public resources in an analysis of major Metropolitan Statistical Areas (MSAs). The authors explore trends and public policy implications for furthering the use of mobile communications in the transportation systems of metropolitan regions.

The rankings revealed that metropolitan regions each have areas of strength and weakness. In fact, no MSA ranked in the top five for each category, suggesting that though several cities were very strong (top five) in two categories (San Jose, San Francisco, Washington DC, San Diego), every MSA has substantial room for improvement.

2009

Abstract

During the past fifty years, federal disaster policy in the United States has been shaped by an ongoing conflict between proponents who favor federal intervention following a disaster and those who believe disaster response should be the responsibility of state and local governments and charity. This article explores the existing federal disaster policy landscape within the United States with a focus on the Stafford Act, the cultural and political forces that produced it, and how the current system is ill equipped to aid in the response and recovery from major catastrophes. The Stafford Act defines how federal disasters are declared, determines the types of assistance to be provided by the federal government, and establishes cost sharing arrangements among federal, state, and local governments. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) carries out the provisions of the Stafford Act and distributes much of the assistance provided by the Act. With the establishment of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, the threat of domestic terrorism, and large-scale natural disasters like Hurricane Katrina, the limits of the Stafford Act and FEMA have been shown. We look at several areas where the shortcomings of the Stafford Act have emerged and propose directions for reform.

2006

2005

Moss, M.. Congestion Pricing. New York Daily News December
Abstract

The attack on the World Trade Center reinforced a process of change in lower Manhattan that had been under way for at least the past fifty years. The public and private responses to the destruction wrought on September 11 have provided the funds, organizational capacity, and public commitment to do what a previous generation of municipal planners tried to accomplish, with only partial success: creating a mixed residential and office community in what was once New York City's dominant financial and business district. Federal aid to rebuild lower Manhattan has been the catalyst for modernizing and expanding its mass transit systems and facilities, providing low-cost financing for converting obsolete office buildings into housing, improving pedestrian movement, investing public funds in parks and cultural institutions, and subsidizing the creation of new public schools. This chapter examines the key public and private organizations that have shaped this redevelopment and the implications for the future of lower Manhattan and for office development in the rest of New York City.

2004

Abstract

An invisible network of digital technology systems underlies the highly visible networks of roads, waterways, satellites, and power-lines. Increasingly, these systems are becoming the "infrastructure's infrastructure," providing a crucial array of data on network demand, performance, reliability, and security. "Digital Infrastructures" presents an interdisciplinary analysis of the technological systems that envelop these networks. The book balances analyses of specific civil and environmental infrastructures with broader policy and management issues, including the challenges of using IT to manage these critical systems under crises conditions. "Digital Infrastructures" addresses not only the technological dimension but, importantly, how social, organizational and environmental forces affect how IT can be used to manage water, power, transport and telecommunication systems. The book is organized four sections. First, fundamental themes of policy, management, and technology are presented to frame the domain of digital infrastructures. Second, the way in which information technologies are applied in specific infrastructure sectors provides an in-depth assessment of what the advantages and disadvantages have been over time. Third, cross-cutting themes of economics, earth systems engineering, and international sustainability show how various systems perspectives approach some of the barriers to integrating information technology and infrastructure. Finally, the concluding section looks at some of the new directions and challenges being posed by issues such as security. "Digital Infrastructures" is the first integrated treatment of how IT technology is fundamentally affecting how critical infrastructures are managed. It is geared to provide the new infrastructure professional with state of the art concepts, methods, and examples for use in creating public policies, strategic plans, and new systems. It will be an essential book for upper level undergraduate and graduate courses in infrastructure management, critical infrastructure, environmental systems management, and management of IT systems.

2003

Abstract

This chapter examines the role of digital communications networks during and after the September 11, 2001, attack on the World Trade Center. Digital networks in New York City played a vital role in all three phases of this catastrophe: initial response, interim restoration, and long-term recovery. Mitchell L Moss and Anthony Townsend conclude that during each of these phases, the digital network infrastructure, while the most fragile of all urban networks, demonstrated remarkable resiliency in serving the citizens of the city and the nation.

2000

Abstract

Since 1993, when the first graphical web browser, Mosaic, was released into the public domain, the Internet has evolved from an obscure academic and military research network into an international agglomeration of public and private, local and global telecommunications systems. Much of the academic and popular literature has emphasized the distance-shrinking implications and placelessness inherent in these rapidly developing networks. However, the relationship between the physical and political geography of cities and regions and the virtual (or logical) geography of the Internet lacks a strong body of empirical evidence upon which to base such speculation.

This chapter presents the results of a series of studies conducted from June 1996 to August 1998. Our research suggests there is a metropolitan dominance of Internet development by a handful of cities and regions. We identity and describe an emerging structure of "virtual" hubs and pathways which are linking a set of major cities in the United States, suggesting that there is a complex emerging inter-urban communications network that goes far beyond Castells' (1989) informational mode of development.

1999

Moss, M.. Decentralizing Manhattan Office Markets. Grid, Vol. 1: No. 1. winter.

1998

Moss, M.. Technology and Cities. Cityscape, Vol. 53: No. 3.

1997

Abstract

Public policies for urban development have traditionally emphasized investment in physical infrastructure, the development of large-scale commercial facilities, the construction of new housing, and the renewal of existing neighborhoods. Most efforts to revitalize central cities by building new facilities for visitors have focused on suburban commuters and tourists. At the same time, many housing initiatives in central cities have concentrated on low-income communities because outlying suburban areas have attracted traditional middle-income households.

This article argues that emerging demographic and cultural trends - combined with changes in the structure of business organizations and technological advances - provide new opportunities for cities to retain and attract middle-class households. Using gay and lesbian populations as an example, it focuses on the role that nontraditional households can play in urban redevelopment. In light of the rise of nontraditional households and the growth of self-employment and small businesses, cities should adopt policies that make them attractive places in which to live and work.

 

1995

Moss, M.. Where's the Power in the Empowerment Zone?. City Journal, spring.