Member Profiles

May Member Profile: Yanisa Techagumthorn

Senior Associate at Nelson\Nygaard

Yanisa Techagumthorn is a transportation planner dedicated to improving public transit, which she sees as a great way to increase the wellbeing of communities and the environment. She is a Senior Associate at Nelson\Nygaard, where she focuses on bus service planning, transit master plans, and equity in transportation. She works with transit agencies and transportation departments across the country, with a focus on MA, NY, and NC. Yanisa lives in Brooklyn, NY, and has a Master in City Planning from MIT. Outside of work, you can find her biking around the city and training to become a yoga teacher.

1. What is your favorite YPT-NYC memory?  

The Trivia Night! I attended last year, and I was just amazed at the wealth of knowledge in the room. I’m pretty sure I didn’t help my team answer a single question (lol sorry), but I love being a part of this nerdy, wonderful community.
2. If you could snap your fingers and make one change to regional transportation, what would it be?

I would put transit signal priority for buses everywhere. I love my B26 bus, but cry a little bit every time it stops at every single intersection followed by every single bus stop along the whole route. Putting TSP along every bus route in the city would make buses so much faster and more reliable, and most car drivers wouldn’t even notice.

3. What’s your favorite way to get around the YPT-NYC region?

I’m truly a multimodal girly, but here are some of my favorite ways to get around depending on the situation:

  • Any subway line that goes overground between Manhattan and Brooklyn so that I can get that beautiful skyline view.
  • Biking home from a bar on empty streets on a breezy summer night – makes me feel like I’m the main character in a coming-of-age movie.
  • Taking the bus back from the farmer’s market and seeing what the rest of the neighborhood is up to on a Saturday morning.
  • Walking pretty much anytime and anywhere.

4. What sparked your passion to work in the transportation industry?

I was looking for a career that helps both people and the environment, and through that somehow landed in transit planning, which definitely fits the bill. I started college as a materials engineering major wanting to work on clean energy, but realized I wanted to do something more people-focused. I love how my work now is a good mix of technical analyses and community and stakeholder coordination, and how my small tweaks to a city’s bus network can have major impacts on someone’s quality of life.

Thinking back, I’m not surprised I landed in transportation planning. I grew up in the Seattle area, and spent hours of my childhood waiting at King County Metro and Sound Transit bus stops for delayed or ghost buses. They also took away the bus stop in front of my apartment due to bus stop consolidation (which I now know is a good thing, but I was so bitter about having to walk up a hill to the new bus stop every day). My family’s restaurant also had to close down and move due to the construction impacts of the Link Light Rail. Public transit has been intertwined with my life in both positive and negative ways, and when I realized that these impacts were due to policy and planning decisions, I knew that I wanted my career to be dedicated to those who grew up like I did.

5. Do you have a favorite transportation book, blog, newsletter, podcast, or YouTube channel?

I’m a big fan of Dr. Adonia Lugo’s book “Bicycle/Race: Transportation, Culture, & Resistance.”

6. What famous celebrity do you think should be given the opportunity to voice a NYCT Subway announcement?

Keanu Reeves – I love that he’s a regular subway rider and watching the videos of him giving up his seat for people.

7. What upcoming YPT event are you looking forward to the most in 2023?

The holiday party!

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