Urban Research Seminar feat. Jennifer Jennings Professor of Sociology and Public Affairs Princeton University
IDENTIFYING CAMPAIGNS TO MITIGATE CAPITAL COSTS IN THE WAKE OF THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC
Riders Alliance is a grassroots organization founded in 2012, dedicated to providing New Yorkers with a more affordable and reliable public transit system. It organizes subway and bus riders to support policy goals and campaigns that will improve train and bus services run by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA). Riders Alliance engaged a Capstone team to explore winnable campaigns that lower the MTA’s construction costs, recruit more riders, and expand the MTA’s operating revenue. The team researched and analyzed the capital allocations and fiscal limitations of the MTA, as well as the political dynamics within the city and state. The team conducted a review of relevant literature and a sensitivity analysis of the MTA’s East Side Access and Second Avenue Subway expansion projects—which revealed that uncertainty costs and utility relocation are largely responsible for the MTA’s high construction costs—and held interviews with experts to better understand the MTA’s budget and construction as it relates to public transportation. The team’s final report helps the client identify initiatives and campaigns with the greatest potential impact for New Yorkers.
CREATING A NETWORK DEVELOPMENT FRAMEWORK FOR EXPANSION PLANNING
Oonee is a New York-based company that provides cities with a turnkey solution to the problem of bike theft by designing, financing, deploying, and managing modular bike parking facilities. To aid in its mission to build secure, affordable public bike parking networks at scale, Oonee engaged a Capstone team to 1) learn more about its users and the communities in which it operates and 2) research best practices around building a bike parking network. To tackle these questions, the team studied the existing conditions around Oonee’s existing pods and researched other bike parking models. The team conducted user- and community-level outreach—interviewing Oonee users and potential users, stakeholders such as community board members and advocacy organizations, and businesses located near current and past pod locations. The team developed a network siting recommendation tool that will fill crucial information gaps for Oonee, serve as a template for expansion planning, and ultimately allow the organization to advance its mission.
SUPPORTING THE WORKFORCE IN THE TRANSITION TO ELECTRIC VEHICLE FLEETS
The NYC Manufacturing and Industrial Innovation Council (MaiiC) is a mayoral industry partnership that supports local manufacturing and industrial sectors. As federal, state, and local policies increasingly focus on mandating and incentivizing the conversion of public and private vehicle fleets to zero-emission vehicles, more than 300,000 New Yorkers who work on vehicle infrastructure installation, integration, operation, and maintenance stand to be profoundly impacted by these changes. In an effort to preempt workforce-related barriers to meeting these ambitious goals, MaiiC engaged the Capstone team to report on electric medium- and heavy-duty vehicle trends and potential disruptions, and to recommend how to prepare the workforce for an electric future. Based on current literature, site visits, and stakeholder interviews and surveys, the team recommended that MaiiC focus on the following measures: growing recruitment and training efforts, strengthening existing workforce development programs, developing partnerships and resources for businesses, and advocating for industry regulations and standards.
THE EFFECT OF POST-SANDY NYC SUBWAY RENOVATIONS ON HOUSEHOLD INCOME
On October 29, 2012, Hurricane Sandy struck New York City for 48 hours straight. The storm caused an estimated $19 billion in damage and negatively impacted economic activity in the city. The MTA suffered extensive damage, estimated at $5 billion, forcing it to set aside approximately $7.6 billion for Sandy-related projects. The Capstone team investigated whether the post-Sandy renovations in the New York City Subway System influenced median household income levels within a 0.25-mile radius of the renovated station. Based on existing research on the impact of public transportation, the team hypothesized that income levels in neighboring communities increased after the renovations were completed. Using two-way fixed effects to implement a difference-in-differences model that accounts for differences in treatment time, the preliminary findings confirmed the hypothesis.