Archive for Self Promotion

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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Among my podcast, Twitter feed, Instagram account and Facebook page, you may not have enough Second Ave. Sagas in your life. So next week you have not one but two chances to see me live and in the flesh talking about transit matters.

First up is a panel I’m on this coming Tuesday, November 19. Hosted by the Manhattan Young Democrats, I’ll be joining Public Advocate-elect Letitia James and James Parrott, Deputy Director and Chief Economist at the Fiscal Policy Institute to discuss Mayor-elect Bill de Blasio’s first 100 days. Seth Barron from City & State will moderate, and 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.

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 100 proposals, which range from subway car flooring suggestions to smell detectors, 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 next week.

Categories : Self Promotion
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On my way to the All Star Game yesterday evening, I had a chance to walk to the western end of the 7 train platform at Times Square. If you peer into the tunnel, you see not a dead end but a temporary wall obscuring the 7 line extension. In less a year, these trains will run to the Hudson Yards, but for now, the signal system and third rail power end at 42nd St. I snapped the picture above from the railfan window at the back of train and posted it to Instagram. I like to think that it’s a pretty neat photograph.

While this site remains my primary outlet for transit-related content, I wanted to take a minute or two to point you in a few other directions. In addition to the blog, I’ve been maintaining that Instagram account where I post photos of sights and scenes from the New York City subway system. I’ve photographed old maps, unique Metrocards and Arts for Transit installations. Occasionally I’ll branch out to other transportation-related locales as well as I did a few weeks ago when I found myself across the street from the TWA terminal at night. Give me a follow right here for more.

Beyond Instagram, SAS maintains an active Twitter feed where I discuss transit-related news and developments that may or may not make it into a longer post. I also have a Facebook page with links to new content, photos and event announcements. If you’re into social media, check ‘em all out. It’s a great way to get Second Ave. Sagas in many different forms, and as they say, variety is the spice of life.

Categories : Self Promotion
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My long-standing series at the Transit Museum continues tomorrow, Wednesday, June 5, and this time, I’ll be talking transit security with Joseph Nugent, the liaison between New York City Transit and the New York Police Department. In the aftermath of the Boston bombings, Nugent and I will be discussing the extensive security measures — some visible, some not — in place to protect transit riders in New York. It’s not an easy task as the system is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and unmanned access points exist throughout the five boroughs.

Some background on my guest: Nugent is the interagency liaison between the New York Police Department and New York City Transit. He began his career as an officer with the NYC Transit Police Department in 1985, and was promoted to sergeant in 1993. In 2002, he became a lieutenant with the NYPD, retiring in July 2005. Before starting in his current position, he worked as an NYCT investigator in employee misconduct and workplace violence, and later as counterterrorism liaison. He received a B.S. in Business Management from St. Francis College in 2000, and a Masters in Public Administration from Marist College in 2009.

As always, Problem Solvers takes place at the Transit Museum in Downtown Brooklyn, and the program starts at 6:30 p.m. with doors at 6. Admission is free, but the Museum asks that you kindly RSVP right here. See you then.

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