Archive for Self Promotion

Just a reminder that my next “Problem Solvers” event at the Transit Museum — the first since last spring’s session on the MetroCard — is set for tomorrow night. The topic is the MTA’s post-Sandy Fix & Fortify program, an ongoing effort to recover from Superstorm Sandy and work to alleviate the affect another hurricane or similar storm could have on the region and its transit network. I’ll be interviewing John O’Grady, an engineer with over 25 years’ experience at the MTA and in capital construction who currently serves as a vice president for infrastructure and facilities. The talk will start at 6:30 p.m. on Tuesday, March 3.

It’s hard to believe the storm swept through well over two years ago, and as we know, the MTA’s challenges are immense. The new South Ferry station, totaled by the storm surge, isn’t expected to reopen until mid-2017 or even early 2018, according to the latest MTA materials, and although the Montague St. Tunnel has reopened following 14 months’ of repairs, the MTA has to address saltwater damage in many of the other East River Tunnels. During the talk tomorrow, we’ll discuss the work that went into the Montague Tube repairs and the way the MTA is managing the project. We’ll touch on some flood-remediation efforts and the MTA’s attempts at ensuring the next big storm isn’t nearly as disruptive or destructive to the subway system.

As noted, the festivities start at 6:30 p.m. at the Transit Museum in Downtown Brooklyn. As the Museum would like to better support its programming, the event carries with it a modest $10 charge (though museum members still get in for free). As a bonus, though, at 7:30 p.m., the Museum will put Sandy artifacts on display and discuss the process of retrieving and cataloging these items. Most of the public saw only the photos, but the destruction wrought by the storm was substantial. Pick up your tickets right here. Hopefully, I’ll see you tomorrow.

Categories : Asides, Self Promotion
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Subway service and the city’s sense of 24-hour invulnerability weren’t the only casualties of the late January snow storm that wasn’t. My “Problem Solvers” session at the Transit Museum had to be postponed as well. Now, the Museum, my guest and I have determined that we’ll put on the event on Tuesday, March 3rd at 6:30 p.m. in Downtown Brooklyn.

For this session, I’ll be interviewing John O’Grady, an engineer with over 25 years’ experience at the MTA and in capital construction who currently serves as a vice president for infrastructure and facilities. The talk will focus on Sandy recovery efforts. We’ll discuss the work that went into the Montague Tube repairs and the way the MTA is managing the project. We’ll touch on some flood-remediation efforts and the MTA’s attempts at ensuring the next big storm isn’t nearly as disruptive or destructive to the subway system.

The festivities start at 6:30 p.m. at the Transit Museum in Downtown Brooklyn. As the Museum would like to better support its programming, the event carries with it a modest $10 charge (though museum members still get in for free). As a bonus, though, at 7:30 p.m., the Museum will put Sandy artifacts on display and discuss the process of retrieving and cataloging these items. Most of the public saw only the photos, but the destruction wrought by the storm was substantial. Pick up your tickets right here. Those of you who already purchased a ticket don’t need to pay again. Hopefully, I’ll see you at the Museum in a few weeks.

Categories : Asides, Self Promotion
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While we’re busy here discussing rail access to LaGuardia and the future of the MetroCard, on Tuesday, January 27, join me in person for the return of my “Problem Solvers” Q-and-A series at the Transit Museum for a discussion on the MTA’s Fix & Fortify program. I’ll be interviewing John O’Grady, an engineer with over 25 years’ experience at the MTA and in capital construction who currently serves as a vice president for infrastructure and facilities. The talk will focus on Sandy recovery efforts.

It’s hard to believe the storm swept through well over two years ago, and as we know, the MTA’s challenges are immense. The new South Ferry station, totaled by the storm surge, isn’t expected to reopen until mid-2017 or even early 2018, according to the latest MTA materials, and although the Montague St. Tunnel has reopened following 14 months’ of repairs, the MTA has to address saltwater damage in many of the other East River Tunnels. During the talk next week, we’ll discuss the work that went into the Montague Tube repairs and the way the MTA is managing the project. We’ll touch on some flood-remediation efforts and the MTA’s attempts at ensuring the next big storm isn’t nearly as disruptive or destructive to the subway system.

The festivities start at 6:30 p.m. at the Transit Museum in Downtown Brooklyn. As the Museum would like to better support its programming, the event is no longer free and carries with it a modest $10 charge (though museum members still get in for free). As a bonus, though, at 7:30 p.m., the Museum will put Sandy artifacts on display and discuss the process of retrieving and cataloging these items. Most of the public saw only the photos, but the destruction wrought by the storm was substantial. Pick up your tickets right here, and hopefully, I’ll see you next week.

Categories : Asides, Self Promotion
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A less-than-spectacular view from above. (Photo via WTC Progress on Facebook)

As long-time readers (or even recent converts to the site) know, I am not a particularly big fan of the Port Authority’s PATH Hub at the World Trade Center site. It’s a monument to an architect and a mall ahead of a transit center. Already, what’s opened has been both overwhelming and less than impressive with narrow staircases and insufficient access to the platforms. As form and function pull at a limited pool of dollars, the PATH Hub is the epicenter for the debate.

Yesterday, The Atlantic’s CityLab published a piece of mine on that very topic. It’s the culmination of years of railing against the price tag and design of the PATH Hub. I’m not against great design for transit, but as it does at Grand Central, the design should flow from the function. Santiago Calatrava’s monstrosity does just the opposite as form overwhelms function.

An excerpt:

From a practical perspective, where Grand Central seamlessly integrates commuters with its purpose as a rail depot, the Port Authority’s new hub fails its customers, the PATH-riding public. One platform is already completed, and its design flaws are obvious. Staircases are too narrow to accommodate the morning crowds who come streaming out of the trains from Hoboken, Jersey City, and beyond, while the narrow platforms quickly fill with irate commuters. Anyone trying to catch a train back to the Garden State risks a stampede. The marble, bright and sterile, picks up any spill, and a drop of water creates dangerously slippery conditions until a Port Authority janitor scurries out of some unseen door, mop in hand. Passenger flow and comfort, two of the most important elements of terminal design, seem to be an afterthought. The PATH Hub is shaping up to be an example of design divorced from purpose.

The price tag too creates consternation among those fighting for sparse transit dollars. For $4 billion, the Port Authority could have extended PATH to Brooklyn, built a one-seat ride from Lower Manhattan to JFK Airport or helped cover the cost overruns from the dearly departed ARC Tunnel. For $4 billion, the MTA could build out most, if not all, of another phase of the Second Avenue subway or the lost 7 line station at 41st Street and 10th Avenue five times over. At a time with real needs for regional transportation improvements, a $4 billion missed opportunity stings….

In his writings and lectures on “Why Architecture Matters,” the architectural critic Paul Goldberger writes: “When architecture is art, it does not escape the obligation to be practical, and its practical shortcomings should not be forgiven.” Politicians choose architects who create buildings with visual designs that leave a mark in the public memory. For an occasional visitor to Lower Manhattan, Calatrava’s building is a sight to see, but for an occasional PATH rider, Caltrava’s platforms and staircases are a reminder that transit users in the eyes of celebrity crafters are afterthoughts. The riders don’t post photos to Instagram and swoon over a stegosaurus-like structure rising out of the ashes of the Twin Towers; they grumble about narrow staircases and shoddy construction.

Please do go read the full piece at CityLab. I try to end it on an upbeat note. We as a society used to design great buildings that were also functional. If we try hard enough and focus properly, I’m sure we can do it again.

Categories : PANYNJ, Self Promotion
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For a variety of reasons, none of them bad, I don’t have the time this evening to write a full post in advance of Monday morning. I’ll have something up later in the day, but in the meantime, I have two important items, one much more serious than the other.

We’ll start with the good: This Wednesday plays host to my Problem Solvers Q-and-A at the Transit Museum on the future of the MetroCard. I’ll be interviewing Michael DeVitto, Vice President and Program Executive for fare payment programs at NYC Transit, and we’ll be discussing what’s next for the 21-year-old card, what will replace it and when. I have a sneaking suspicion DeVitto will not reveal that we’re heading back to the age of the token, but you never know. The 6:30 p.m. event is free, but the Transit Museum requests you RSVP. I’m looking forward to this one.

And now the bad: I didn’t have a chance to give this story its due last week, but there was a major data breach concerning personal information of over 15,000 salaried Transit employees. As The Post reported, the information — including names and social security numbers of current and retired workers — was discovered on a CD-ROM that had been left instead a refurbished disk drive. The MTA is investigating the cause of the breach, and officials have noted that the existence of such an unencrypted disk is a breach of internal policies. So far, the data, as The Post notes, has not been used for “malicious purposes.”

When I first launched the “Problem Solvers” series with the Transit Museum, I knew that I wanted to focus a session on the future of the MetroCard. For a few years, I’ve tried to schedule a sit-down with the right someone at the MTA to discuss the agency’s next-generation fare payment plans and the prognosis for the familiar piece of plastic New Yorkers carry with themselves 24-7.

At first, I couldn’t get anyone because the MTA didn’t really know what it was going to do replace the MetroCard; it knew only that by 2019 it would be too expensive to maintain the current system. But now I have some exciting news: The next “Problem Solvers” Q-and-A session, set for March 19, will focus on the MetroCard’s future. Joining me at 6:30 p.m. at the Transit Museum in Brooklyn will be Michael DeVitto, Vice President and Program Executive for fare payment programs at NYC Transit. We will discuss the future of the MetroCard, current initiatives on new fare technology, and all that goes into designing a fare system for the city’s transit network. We will, of course, talk about progress toward a new fare payment system.

“Problem Solvers” is a free event hosted by the Transit Museum, and this session is slated for Wednesday, March 19th at 6:30 p.m. (with doors at 6). Please RSVP here and join me for what should be an illuminating and informative conversation on a topic I’ve followed closely over the past seven and a half years.

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A final reminder and weather not withstanding: Curious about how the MTA models ridership? Ever wondered just what I mean when I talk about the MTA’s load guidelines? And who designed those turnstiles anyway? These questions and more are on tap tomorrow evening when “Problem Solvers,” the Q-and-A series I host at the Transit Museum, makes its 2014 debut.

Joining me on Wednesday, February 5 at 6:30 p.m. will be Bill Amarosa, New York City Transit’s Manager of Service Data Analysis. Amarosa has been monitoring the city’s subway ridership and analyzing station usage for years. As an intern with Transit’s OMB, he compiled ridership data by station back to 1940 and later continued that research so OMB could publish a 1904-2004 ridership report for the subway’s 100th anniversary. He returned to Transit in 2008 as OMB’s Manager of Ridership and Revenue Analysis and in November 2013 moved to Operations Planning as Manager of Service Data Analysis. In 2006, Amarosa also broke the Guinness World Record for riding the entire NYC Subway in the shortest time, visiting all 468 stations on a single fare in 24 hours, 54 minutes, 3 seconds. (I covered that story way back in 2007.)

I’m sure we’ll talk about his record-setting ride, and I know Bill and I will discuss everything from turnstile design to experiencing an over-crowded G train station in Williamsburg and the ways the MTA tries to adapt service patterns to meet ridership. The event is free, but the Transit Museum asks you to kindly RSVP. It’ll be a good time for all.

Categories : Self Promotion
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Curious about how the MTA models ridership? Ever wondered just what I mean when I talk about the MTA’s load guidelines? And who designed those turnstiles anyway? These questions and more are on tap next week when “Problem Solvers,” the Q-and-A series I host at the Transit Museum, makes its 2014 debut.

Joining me on Wednesday, February 5 at 6:30 p.m. will be Bill Amarosa, New York City Transit’s Manager of Service Data Analysis. Amarosa has been monitoring the city’s subway ridership and analyzing station usage for years. As an intern with Transit’s OMB, he compiled ridership data by station back to 1940 and later continued that research so OMB could publish a 1904-2004 ridership report for the subway’s 100th anniversary. He returned to Transit in 2008 as OMB’s Manager of Ridership and Revenue Analysis and in November 2013 moved to Operations Planning as Manager of Service Data Analysis. In 2006, Amarosa also broke the Guinness World Record for riding the entire NYC Subway in the shortest time, visiting all 468 stations on a single fare in 24 hours, 54 minutes, 3 seconds. (I covered that story way back in 2007.)

I’m sure we’ll talk about his record-setting ride, and I know Bill and I will discuss everything from turnstile design to experiencing an over-crowded G train station in Williamsburg and the ways the MTA tries to adapt service patterns to meet ridership. The event is free, but the Transit Museum asks you to kindly RSVP. It’ll be a good time for all.

Categories : Self Promotion
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Due to some scheduling difficulties, this week’s podcast may be delayed a few days, but there are plenty of other ways to hear me speak on transit in the coming days.

First up is a panel I’m on this coming Tuesday, November 19. Hosted by the Manhattan Young Democrats, I’ll be joining James Parrott, Deputy Director and Chief Economist at the Fiscal Policy Institute, Cass Conrad from CUNY and Lisa Levy from the NYC Coalition Against Hunger to discuss Mayor-elect Bill de Blasio’s first 100 days. Seth Barron from City & State will moderate, and Manhattan Borough President-elect Gail Brewer will be on hand too. I’ll tackle items I feel should be on de Blasio’s transportation agenda. (For a preview, check out my to-do list for our incoming mayor.) The panel kicks off at 7 p.m. at The Liberty on West 35th St. For information and to RSVP, check out the event’s Facebook page, and submit your questions right here.

Then, on Wednesday, November 20, Problem Solvers makes its fall debut at the Transit Museum. I’ll be sitting down with Randy Gregory, creator of the project 100 Ways to Improve the Subway. Gregory’s proposals, which range from subway car flooring suggestions to smell detectors to better wayfinding signs, take an inventive, practical and fancifully creative approach to improving nearly every aspect of the subway system. (Read my June coverage of his site right here.) That one kicks off at 6:30 p.m. at the Transit Museum in Downtown Brooklyn, and you can reserve tickets here. I’ll see you this week.

Categories : Self Promotion
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I have a little bit of a last-minute announcement for you: I’ll be joining a group discussion this afternoon at the Transition Tent in Manhattan. Located at Canal St. and 6th Ave., the tent has been established by a variety of NYC groups, and it’s designed to be a part of the “open” transition from Mayor Bloomberg to Mayor de Blasio, and at 6 p.m. today, I’ll be a part of the Citizens’ Happy Hour, hosted by The New American Tavern. Here’s the listing:

Join us for spiced cider, beer, wine, snacks and civic conversation. During this Citizens’ Happy Hour, each table will host discussions on themes of interest to you such as: music, education, life for artists in NYC, access to healthy foods and more. At the end of the hour each table will summarize their conversation and present a relevant policy recommendation to the rest of the group.

I’ll be talking transit and transportation. I’m sure we’ll hit on subways, buses, bikes, roads and safe streets. You can find out more about the Transition Tent right here, and RSVP for the event either on Facebook or Eventbrite. It’ll be an interesting way to spend an hour on Sunday afternoon.

Categories : Self Promotion
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