Transportation Planner at VHB
Matthew Kalish is a transit and rail planner at VHB with a passion for creating more livable cities and towns, and working on improving public transportation and promoting active mobility to help make that possible. Throughout his time at VHB, Matthew has worked on a variety of transit projects in the New Jersey and New York City region, including a First-Mile/Last-Mile toolkit, the Gateway Program expanding rail access for the Northeast Corridor, and redesigning a bus network in southern New Jersey. He obtained a Masters in City and Regional Planning at Rutgers University’s Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy, which is what brought him to New Jersey after living in Washington, DC for eight years.
1. What is your favorite YPT-NYC memory?
My favorite memory was the Jersey City walking tour a few months ago. The city is leading the way in creating pedestrian and bicycle-friendly streets and public spaces. Being able to see that firsthand by the people working on it was a great experience.
2. If you could snap your fingers and make one change to regional transportation, what would it be?
I wish there could be a truly interconnected transit network in the NYC metro region, both with regard to fare payment and ease of transfer. Between the three commuter railroads, many bus networks, two subway systems, light rail, and ferries, people are frequently needing to change between two (and sometimes even three!) different fare payment systems, all of which come with their different intricacies. If there was a single fare payment system that could be used through someone’s phone or smartcard and transfers were timed and convenient, it would revolutionize the way people travel in the area. I also think that as far as wishes go, this is quite attainable!
3. What’s your favorite way to get around the YPT-NYC region?
Prior to moving to New Jersey (I currently live in Newark), I lived in Washington DC. One of my favorite parts about living there was how bike-friendly the city was. While a much smaller city than NYC, it felt like I was never more than 15-minutes away from anything on my bike. As we all know, prioritizing wider roads and more car lanes takes away from a city in many ways, but building a safe and connected bike network in cities and towns allows for people to get around in an efficient (and fun!) way. I love that Newark is piloting scooter and bikeshare programs, and am very encouraged by NYC’s implementation of new bike lanes and the growth in people biking around the city over the last few years.
4. What sparked your passion to work in the transportation industry?
One of the main reasons I became so interested in working in transportation is because it affects every person in one way or another. People who work in transportation, be it the train operators, bus drivers, construction workers, car cleaners, or decision-makers, all play a role in whether a stranger has a good or bad day.
5. What are you working on currently that you’re most excited about?
I recently completed working on a First-Mile/Last-Mile online interactive toolkit with MTA that helps towns, cities, counties, and transportation organizations plan and fund microtransit and micromobility projects in the seven New York counties surrounding NYC. The toolkit was a fantastic initiative brought on by MTA, and I can’t wait to see what programs come out of its use in the next few years.
6. What famous celebrity do you think should be given the opportunity to voice a NYCT Subway announcement?
Being from Boston and a diehard Boston sports fan (with the exception of the NBA–story for another time), I would love to hear David Ortiz over the subway PA system just to see everyone’s reaction in the subway car.
7. What upcoming YPT event are you looking forward to the most in 2023? Trivia night! YPT does a great job running the event, and it was great finally being able to do it in-person last fall.