Bus Planner, MTA
After growing up just outside NYC and attending college at Tufts near Boston, Robert returned to New York to pursue his planning degree at NYU. Since coming back to New York, Robert has worked for Kevin Dwarka Economic Consulting making plans in communities across the region, the Municipal Art Society of New York analyzing and advocating for sensible planning policies, and currently the MTA as a bus planner. Outside the office, you’ll probably find Robert running or biking in Central Park, at a museum, or seeing a Broadway show (when they reopen).
We asked Robert some questions:
1. What is your favorite YPT-NYC event and why?
Transportation Trivia is my favorite because it brings out my competitive and nerdy sides. Plus, trivia is one of the best ways to keep learning new things.
2. If you could snap your fingers and make one change to regional transportation, what would it be?
While I’d be tempted to extend the W train to LaGuardia or will a second rail tunnel under the Hudson into existence, I would want Paris RER-style through-running commuter rail trains. The ultimate convenience of fast, frequent trains that cross the city and serve multiple stations rather than one large hub is not to be underestimated. Although Paris is geographically much smaller than New York, the mobility and accessibility gains might be even greater here if there were, for example, rail connections between Newark and Jamaica, or Coney Island and White Plains.
3. What sparked your passion to work in the transportation industry?
I have a long story about how in high school my dream of becoming an astronaut fell apart (seriously) and that I was subsequently inspired by a page of my AP history textbook showing how train routes connected cities across the country in the 1830s. The more I found out about the environmental benefits, economic opportunities, and public health impacts of transportation planning, the more I loved it. Friends and family got me books to support my interests and I’ve followed them ever since.
4. What are you working on that you’re most excited by?
I have recently done a lot of work on improving overnight bus service, specifically helping launch and monitor the Bx99 route. Although the task of transporting essential workers overnight without subway service and a limited budget was daunting at first, I’ve been pleased with how well customers have taken to expanded bus service. Despite not being the best of circumstances, I’ve found it to be rather instructive for our network redesign efforts.
5. What career advice would you give to other YPT’ers interested in your career path?
Beyond putting yourself out there as much as possible with networking opportunities, the most important thing is to never stop learning. It’s relatively easy to pick up new skills online or to at least show an interest and willingness to learn the tools of the trade. As long as you keep learning in every role, and use one role as a stepping stone to the next, you’ll find your career heading in a direction that pleases you.
6. What famous celebrity do you think should be given the opportunity to voice a NYCT Subway Announcement?
Samuel L Jackson spent years in New York City as a stage actor and he even worked as a security guard in Hell’s Kitchen at a time when the neighborhood and the city as a whole were struggling a lot. If there’s someone who I want to assure me that the upcoming service change won’t be so bad, it’s him. Plus, his voice is exactly the iconic and authoritative presence we need…to actually be able to hear the announcement over the train’s speaker system that is.