Senior Manager of Planning, MTA Construction and Development
Alexandra Aiello is a Senior Manager of Planning at MTA Construction and Development. Prior to joining C&D in 2022, she was at MTA Bridges and Tunnels where she worked on the Central Business District Tolling Program and the Cashless Tolling Transition.
Previously, she was a GIS Analyst at NJ Transit and was a political campaign organizer, which included President Barack Obama’s re-election campaign in Florida. She served on the YPT-NYC Board from 2015 to 2018 as Director of Programs and Deputy Chair. Originally from Callicoon Center, NY, a small hamlet in the Catskills, which doesn’t have a traffic light and boasts a population of 403, Alexandra has called the greater NYC area home for 10 years and lives in Brooklyn with her rescue cat, Smidge. Alexandra holds a Master of Public Administration from Rutgers University and a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and Bachelor of Science in Philosophy from SUNY Oneonta. She is currently writing her first children’s book.
1. What is your favorite YPT-NYC memory?
I always loved the YPT Hikes where we’d take public transportation out to a hiking trail and spend the day together. I found that they are really great ways to get to know one another because there are so many opportunities for conversation.
2. What’s your favorite way to get around the YPT-NYC region?
Definitely by bicycle. As I write this, I’m on vacation in Iceland, and it makes me realize how lucky we are to have such a rich network of bicycle infrastructure in New York City as transportation in Iceland is very car-dependent. It’s also amazing what you can transport on just two wheels – one time, I even transported a rug on my bicycle’s rear rack and rode down to my apartment!
3. What sparked your passion to work in the transportation industry?
It all started with a bicycle. When a sharrow was installed in my neighborhood in Albany, I decided to try out city cycling. I immediately became smitten – you can only imagine how I felt after riding in a protected bike lane! Afterwards, I started bike commuting, read blogs about bicycle and pedestrian planning, and attended public city planning meetings. At the time, I was a campaign organizer, but knew I couldn’t do it forever because of the long hours and I would move so frequently from campaign to campaign that I didn’t live in the same zip code for more than six months. I knew that I still wanted to make a difference and decided that after the Obama campaign concluded, it would be so wonderful to work in a field I was so passionate about, so I sent an application off to Rutgers and the rest is history.
The cause is personal as well – after losing my younger brother in 2020 from complications with depression, I am committed to promoting active transportation and its proven positive benefits on mental health. I also live with depression and generalized anxiety disorder and can relate all too well how it can be a struggle to simply get out of bed in the morning or not think you’re good enough, and while I certainly know a bike ride may not be able to solve all your problems, it can help ease stress and negative feelings. That is one of the reasons why I’m so passionate about improving access to bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure.
4. What career advice would you give to other YPT-ers interested in your career path?
e have all been that person where you walk in the room and don’t know anyone. I absolutely encourage you to strike up a conversation because you never know where it may lead you. Taking those chances have helped me not only advance my career, but also gain friendships I cannot imagine my life without. Also, if you have FSA or HSA benefits at your job, I highly recommend that you use them. I find that a lot of people, especially those early in their careers, who have these benefits at work do not use them. I know it’s a little scary seeing money deducted from your paycheck but the way to look at it is: the money for healthcare and wellness products (bandages, sunscreen, over the counter medicines like Ibuprofen, etc.) is going to be spent anyway – might as well do so pre-tax! You come out ahead, I promise!
5. What famous celebrity do you think should be given the opportunity to voice a NYCT Subway announcement?
I think Tom Waits would be fantastic with his deep, gravelly voice. If you’ve ever listened to his album, “Nighthawks at the Diner,” I could see him giving every stop its own story. “Downtown Train” is one of his classic songs so I feel like it’s a natural fit.