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Member Profiles

Member Profile: Diane Xiao

Diane Xiao, PE, ENV SP: Project Engineer at VHB

Diane is a Project Engineer at VHB. She specializes in traffic and pedestrian analysis with a background in Transit Signal Priority (TSP) projects and simulation modeling. She is passionate about Complete Streets, sustainable transportation, and pedestrian/bicyclist-oriented design.

Linkedin: dianexiao (https://www.linkedin.com/in/dianexiao/)

1. What is your favorite YPT-NYC event and why?  

I loved the YPT-NYC/WE Bike NYC Queens Bike Tour with NYCDOT. Not only was it educational, but I also got to bike with other transportation enthusiasts which is always a good time. It was great to meet and talk to the community members behind the Open Street efforts on 31st Avenue and 34th Avenue Open Street.

2. If you could snap your fingers and make one change to regional transportation, what would it be? 

I love biking and the city has improved significantly in its bike infrastructure. However, there lacks a feedback system in the maintenance which often makes it feels more unsafe to bike on the bike lane than in traffic (glass, potholes, etc). I wish I could snap my fingers and make NYC so bike friendly that everyone prefers and WANTS to bike.

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

I have always been passionate about sustainability and climate change. I remember hugging a tree on Earth Day in middle school. In many ways, transportation and climate change goes hand in hand. In the United States, transportation accounts for 29% of the nation’s total emission (15-20% globally)1. A lot of the analyses and design we do are still car-centric. I hope to be part of the group that works in making the city more multimodal and greener.

 
4. What are you working on that you’re most excited by?  

A project I worked on recently that still excites me to talk about was the Princeton Washington Road Planning Study. We looked at Washington Road, which is the singular north-south connection that will bring the new campus to the existing campus (North Campus).  We created a comprehensive pedestrian, bicycle, and cart mobility plan for the Washington Road corridor.

5. What career advice would you give to other YPT’ers interested in your career path?

I would say get involved and stay active in professional organizations. Talk to people about things you care about and learn about what other people are doing. Talking things through with people helps you realize what is important to you.


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

Full heartedly would pick a comedian and let them have free range on the script. Some suggestions from NY: Hannibal Buress, Chris Rock, Awkwafina. 

1 https://www.nationalgeographic.org/media/transportation-and-climate-change/

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Member Profiles

Member Profile: Daniel Muniz

Daniel Muniz works for the New York City Department of Transportation where he has served as a Legal Consultant, Analyst, Senior Analyst, Deputy Director, and more recently as the Acting Chief of Staff for the Sidewalk Program. His current role focuses on Program Management which includes budgeting, planning, project delivery, and most importantly – the construction of sidewalks throughout all five boroughs of New York City. Improving New York City’s sidewalk infrastructure and making it more accessible to all pedestrians is the key driver of all his work.

1.What is your favorite YPT-NYC event and why?  

I would say YPT Happy hour! Being able to connect with fellow transportation enthusiasts in a laid-back social setting allows everybody to network and share experiences. It’s the best way to get to know others and engage with people in the transportation field.

2. If you could snap your fingers and make one change to regional transportation, what would it be? 

I am probably biased because I live in Rockland County but being able to take a “one-seat” train ride directly into Manhattan without having to do multiple connections/transfers would be a huge improvement. There are options available such as driving to Tarrytown/White Plains and taking Metro-North or riding a Coach bus but commute times aren’t the best. There is talk in Congress to change this, so I am hopeful this will come to fruition.

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

The transportation industry lured me in when I started my first job as a Legal consultant assigned to the NYC Department of Transportation. I was researching trip and fall claims related to the City’s infrastructure and that’s where I first started learning about the Agency and its operations. I obtained a B.S. in International Relations and Politics, so naturally, my next step was to go to Law School. However, by the time I became an Analyst for the Sidewalk Program, my interest quickly shifted to Public Administration and Urban Planning. Understanding how our cities connect and how the movement of people influences community development was what ultimately pulled me into the transportation world.

 
4. What are you working on that you’re most excited by?  

I introduced a model to prioritize sidewalk repairs around New York City Housing developments. We were able to build out a tool in ArcGIS that automated a ranking system based on inputs that accounted for both condition and demographic scores. This allowed us to factor equity more easily into the work we did. It’s been two years since we started piloting this new tool and we are looking to expand its use for other work we do. Shout out to the team of analysts and our Information Technology team for making that project a reality! We are also working on a complete overhaul for all our internal databases and incorporating them all into one centralized system. Being a part of the engineering of a completely new system that will handle all our operations in a more efficient way is truly rewarding.

5. What career advice would you give to other YPT’ers interested in your career path?

Be curious and ask questions! Try to find an area that you feel most connected with and surround yourself with others that are already in the field. Networking events and socials may not be your cup of tea, but once you get out there and start making connections, it all becomes a lot easier.


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

Not sure why, but I feel Samuel L. Jackson would be a perfect fit for that role. 

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Member Profiles

Member Profile: Antonio Sieunarine

Antonio Sieunarine is an Analyst working at the Department of Subways Rail Control Center. His current work focuses on capital projects that interfaces with the Rail Control Center including NYCT signal modernization efforts. Before arriving at the MTA, Antonio worked for the Newark Downtown District BID as an Urban Planner. Antonio also worked in the aviation industry as an aerial survey pilot and mission specialist conducting LiDAR mapping across the continental United States. Antonio holds an MUP from CUNY Hunter College and a B.S. in Commercial Aviation from the University of North Dakota. When not at work, he enjoys hiking and running. You can also find him staring at the sky anytime an airplane flies overhead.    

1.What is your favorite YPT-NYC event and why?  

My favorite YPT-NYC event is the Summer Tour Series. I love them for two reasons; being able to host YPT-NYC Tours at the Rail Control Center pre-pandemic and being a participant in tours of other facilities. I am keeping my fingers crossed and looking forward to hosting YPT-NYC tours at the RCC again once it is safe to do so. 

2. If you could snap your fingers and make one change to regional transportation, what would it be? 

Wearing my transportation planner hat I would like to see true integration across the various agencies providing rail service across the Tri-State Region.

3. How did your role at the MTA change during the pandemic?

The pandemic was a challenging time at the MTA where many of my colleagues made the ultimate sacrifice and their names should never be forgotten. I along with members of my team were part of the effort to stand up a contact tracing effort within Service Delivery for our Train Operators, Conductors, Dispatchers, and other Service Delivery personnel. In addition to performing the duties of contact tracing, these calls to colleagues were also about being a caring and empathetic voice on the other end. Many of my colleagues were quarantined and alone, very sick, and appreciated having someone to talk to during such a difficult moment. The peak of the pandemic saw late nights and weekends where contact tracing calls were made. We knew we had the moral duty to do everything we could to protect and keep our fellow colleagues safe. https://new.mta.info/covid-memorial

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

This world is an amazing place and the transportation industry facilitates my wandering nature. Whether it is a short trip locally or a different continent, the ability to experience unique things on a local, regional, and global level is one of the amazing things that the transportation industry enables. 

5. What are you working on that you’re most excited by?  

We are currently expanding the usable footprint of the Rail Control Center as we work towards centralization of control and signal modernization efforts across the B-Division (Lettered Lines). We will have one of the largest video wall by area once this project is completed. The video wall will allow us to manage service and assist in the incident handling process. I look forward to giving fellow YPT’ers a future tour of this space.   

6. What career advice would you give to other YPT’ers interested in your career path? 

I would advise a fellow YPT’er to remain curious and let that drive your career path. I have focused on the things I am passionate about and it has led to forward progress and career success. 

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

If Don LaFontaine was still with us, I would be delighted to hear his voice making an announcement in the NYCT Subway System.

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Member Profiles

Member Profile: Leah Flax

Leah Flax (@ResilientLeah), Government Relations Specialist, Government and Community Relations, MTA

Leah Flax is an urban planner with expertise in public transportation, policy analysis, and partnership building. She currently works on bus and subway projects throughout Manhattan as a Government Relations Specialist at the MTA. Before joining the MTA, Leah worked at 100 Resilient Cities where she developed a suite of tools used by cities globally to apply resilience thinking in urban planning and project development. Leah previously held positions at the U.S. Department of Transportation, the Louis Berger Group (now WSP), and with the City of New York at the Department of Transportation and Taxi & Limousine Commission. Leah lives in Fort Greene, Brooklyn where she serves on the board of the Myrtle Avenue Revitalization Project.

1. What is your favorite YPT-NYC event and why?  

Trivia – you do not want me on your team, I am terrible at it, but the competition is fun and I always learn new things.

2. If you could snap your fingers and make one change to regional transportation, what would it be? 

I would make local buses and subways free.

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

The liberating feeling of taking the local bus to the YMCA as a middle schooler, and not having to rely on someone to drive me, sparked my passion for public transit. Shout out to Norwalk Transit District!

4. What are you working on that you’re most excited by? 

The 42 St Connection Project is going to completely modernize the 42 St Shuttle and give customers at Times Square and Grand Central Station greater accessibility, reliability, and more space to move around. The project also includes renovated entrances at Grand Central Station which are already complete, and have made a huge improvement to the traveler experience – when I use them it gives me a lot of pride and joy to have contributed to the project.

5. What career advice would you give to other YPT’ers interested in your career path?

Whether you know what your dream job is or not, with every position you take remember to learn and grow as much as you can and cherish the relationships you build along the way. 

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

BD Wong!

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Member Profiles

Member Profile: Dubary Brea

Dubary Brea, New York City Department of Transportation

Dubary Brea is currently the Deputy Director of Federal Transit Administration Grant programs at the NYC Department of Transportation, where over the past four years he has managed a team that oversees the financial and programmatic management of over $500M in federal and state funding for infrastructure projects across NYC. Previously, Dubary spent five years at the Port Authority of NY & NJ and PATH in various roles encompassing operating and capital budgeting and financial reporting, grants management along with two years as a rotational leadership fellow serving in multiple departments across the agency.

Mr. Brea’s varied professional background includes experiences in the public, private, and non-profit sectors, which have shaped his unique policy perspectives. Prior experiences include working at the Congressional Budget Office, KeySpan Energy (now National Grid), Congressman José E. Serrano’s Washington D.C. office, and Groundwork, Inc. He received a Master of Public Administration from the Cornell Institute for Public Affairs (CIPA) at Cornell University, focusing on government, politics and policy studies, and a Bachelor of Arts in international relations and economics from Hobart and William Smith Colleges.

1. What is your favorite YPT-NYC event and why? 

The YPT-NYC Holiday Party is always a fun joyous occasion. I enjoy getting together for the end of celebration and catching up with friends in the transportation sector.

2. If you could snap your fingers and make one change to regional transportation, what would it be?

I would consolidate all the regional transportation entities such as the MTA, NJ Transit, PANYNJ, and NYCDOT and their respective services, revenue streams under one regional entity. Grant it the independence and authority for all the regional planning, transit service decisions and capital project construction. Imagine using just one fare media on any of these systems, more efficient and smoother service integration amongst all the various modes.

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

As a lifelong New Yorker and subway rider, I feel that our local transportation services are generally underappreciated. We love to point out what’s wrong but often overlook the marvel that allows all these services to run every day. I wanted to contribute and learn more about the industry since it is a very important part of our daily lives.

4. What are you working on that you’re most excited by? 

We are currently finalizing the construction and delivery of three new ferryboats for the Staten Island Ferry. The new storm-resilient vessels will be more capable of operating in a wide range of weather conditions and locations – and can also be used in emergency evacuations. My team at NYCDOT manages the federal funding, reporting and compliance for the project.

5. What career advice would you give to other YPT’ers interested in your career path?

If you see an opportunity that piques your interest, actively find out more information about it, network with your colleagues at work, school, or YPT. The information you can glean from your contacts will help you make a better-informed decision.

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

Definitely Dwayne Johnson, especially if he voices it using his old “The Rock” wrestling moniker. I feel that many people would be surprised and happy that he would do it, and the announcement when it comes on would get many people’s attention.

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Member Profiles

Member Profile: Ben Rosen-Filardo

Ben Rosen-Filardo (they/them), Transportation Engineer, Sam Schwartz

Ben is an engineer with an interest in using data to improve transportation systems. They graduated from MIT in 2018 with a degree in Civil & Environmental Engineering. Ben has been at Sam Schwartz since starting as an intern in 2015. While not at work, they knit & crochet, rock climb, and volunteer as an operator at Trans Lifeline.

1. What is your favorite YPT-NYC event and why?

The tours! My favorite so far has been BookOps 📚

2. If you could snap your fingers and make one change to regional transportation, what would it be?

I was thinking of saying a true regional rail system, but Robert Joseph picked that one just a couple months ago 😛 At this point, I’d really like to see the subway return to 24-hour service.

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

I was one of those kids who was obsessed with infrastructure and transportation from an early age. I loved my BRIO train set and could happily pass the time on a long drive with a game of Auto Bingo. In middle school, I was gifted Kate Ascher’s The Works. The whole book is incredible, but I found myself reading the transportation section over and over. It sounds kind of silly, but from then on, I knew I wanted to be a transportation engineer.

4. What are you working on that you’re most excited by?  

Right now, Sam Schwartz is gearing up to help a city transform a downtown thoroughfare to prioritize transit riders, cyclists, and pedestrians. I’m excited to support this effort by giving stakeholders access to real-time traffic data to evaluate the impact of the project.

5. What career advice would you give to other YPT’ers interested in your career path?

Find opportunities to learn on the job! In my current position, I’ve been able to grow my coding and data analytics skills immensely. I now can work with transportation data on a scale that was previously quite intimidating. I’ve accessed these opportunities by being as forthcoming as possible with my supervisors about what excites me, and by finding mentors in the company who are supportive of my continued growth.

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

Bernie Sanders 🧤

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Member Profiles

Member Profile: Chelsea Ramos

Chelsea Ramos

Technical Specialist in the Environmental, Energy, & Sustainability (EE&S) Department at NJ Transit

Hi! My name is Chelsea Ramos, I am currently a Technical Specialist within the Environment, Energy, & Sustainability (EE&S) Department within NJ TRANSIT.  I have worked for NJ Transit for approximately 7 years and my experiences have been very rewarding both personally and professionally. By education, I am an Environmental Scientist, having received both my Bachelor’s and Master’s Degree in Environmental Science from the New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT).  In addition, I am a 2-year member of YPT-NYC and currently hold the position of Vice-Chair of College Outreach for the Women Transportation Seminar (WTS) NJ Chapter.

1. What is your favorite YPT-NYC event and why?

My favorite YPT-NYC events are the facility tours and scavenger hunts. These events are great because they provide both an educational outlet while also building social connections with other members of YPT-NYC. Also, as a New Jerseyan, the scavenger hunts help me to explore, learn, and travel around NYC a lot better.


2. If you could snap your fingers and make one change to regional transportation, what would it be?

One change that I would make to regional transportation is relieving high traffic areas. Traffic is never fun to experience especially when you are heading to work or an important events. It is also difficult to pinpoint and remove traffic within an area because it often causes traffic in another location. If more direct pathways, public transportation, and highways are better utilized that may be able to provide some type of relief. But until then, I will continue to schedule extra travel time between destinations.

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

My passion within the transportation industry was sparked once I realized how diverse this field really is Individuals from all different educational and ethnic backgrounds have found a home within the transportation field. I have encountered individuals whom are engineers, scientists, lawyers, mechanics, planners, etc. whom all found a career within the transportation industry. To make this industry successful, it requires the collective input of many different backgrounds, experiences, and expertise to continue to be able to move daily.

4. What are you working on that you are most excited by?

Currently, I am working on two extensive railroad bridge replacement projects. These types of projects are always engaging because of the far reach of the project and the collaboration with other transit agencies. Specifically, within these projects I have been able to work with individuals from Conrail and Amtrak to help support the coordination of these projects. Also, as an environmental scientist, each project is unique within their permitting, environmental impacts, and mitigation techniques. These projects have allowed me to work with some experienced engineers, scientists, and designers from various levels and corporations whom broaden my understanding of different tasks. As a side perk, I get to make some new friends outside of my organization!

5. What career advice would you give to other YPTs interested in your career path?

I would say to use every opportunity as a learning experience. Starting off within a position or transitioning to a new position very task, opportunity, or assignment should be looked at as a productive action. Even small tasks such as drafting an email or letter for a supervisor should be constructive and build on your personal skills.


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

Jennifer Lopez! Jennifer is a native Bronx resident and she often took the NYCT subway to get to her gigs and shows around the City. It would be awesome to have her say an announcement for the system!

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Member Profiles

Member Profile: Kyle Kirschling

Kyle Kirschling

Senior Director, Quality Assurance, New York City Transit

Kyle M. Kirschling is an urbanist who specializes in improving cities’ infrastructure. He is a licensed CPA and has a Master’s degree in Urban Planning from Columbia University. 

He is the author of “An Economic Analysis of Rapid Transit in New York, 1870-2010,” an evaluation of the impact of private, public, and hybrid institutions for transit ownership and operation.

As an advisor to the New York City Transit Authority, he sped up subway trains (reversing a 23-year trend) by conceiving a new operations strategy, saving one to four minutes per train trip and increasing on-time performance from 67% to 81% in 12 months, at zero cost (the “Save Safe Seconds” campaign and “SPEED Unit,” as reported in The New Yorker, The New York Times, and elsewhere).

He presently runs an internal management consulting group at the New York Metropolitan Transportation Authority to improve infrastructure maintenance for the subway division.

  1. If you could snap your fingers and make one change to the NYC region’s transportation, what would it be?

Make it radically faster. Twice as fast, at least. And make the region a model of urban mobility for the world.  These are two changes, but it would only take one finger snapping.

Imagine if it took half the time to get anywhere in the region. Think of how your life could improve, especially after a year or two. I want speed because every second of travel time that can be reliably saved means, for instance, that we can reach a little bit better job, we can take classes at a school that is a bit more aligned with our life goals, we can find an apartment we like better, we can include more zip codes on dating apps and ultimately be better matched with a life partner.  Speed expands our “opportunity circle” and thereby makes the world a better place.

Here’s where the finger snapping comes in.  To do these two things, I would snap my fingers and open up our transportation market to competition and unleash our best minds on this problem.  For instance, make it legal for someone (such as the Alfred Beach types) to build and operate their own transit network in the desert of bedrock below the city.  Let them profit, too.  Create a framework that is always open to potential new competitors, and fares can be unregulated.  The Manhattan Elevated created the flat five cent fare in the 1880s as a volume-maximizing strategy to increase their profits.  With a trustworthy system of property rights, the region could become the world’s hub of urban transportation innovation, providing a double benefit to the region.

  1. What is the most common misconception the public has about the NYC Subway, and how would you debunk the myth?

Before I answer, you should know that the thoughts and opinions expressed in this Q&A are my own and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the New York Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA).  

Now, three misconceptions immediately come to mind, but the one that interests me lately is the idea that the unions (and the collective bargaining agreements) are the biggest reason why the MTA cannot significantly reduce costs and cannot afford to expand the network much.  I think that this misconception is also shared by many of my good colleagues at the MTA, understandably so.

To be sure, the unions represent the interests of their members, not those of passengers.  That’s what the unions are for.  Nonetheless, we could improve the MTA’s financial position and still have a highly paid workforce with a growth strategy and if the productivity were correspondingly high.  In addition to growth strategies, I see lots of opportunities to increase productivity in ways that would simultaneously increase job satisfaction (and therefore be in the interests of the union members).  In some cases, increasing morale and job satisfaction would itself contribute to higher productivity.  For instance, discipline policies often discourage innovation.

I don’t yet know how to prove this, which is why it interests me.  I certainly think that a productivity strategy is far more doable than trying to get major cuts in wages and/or benefits, and it’s more sustainable than new subsidies from taxpayers.  Freight railroads in the United States and passenger railroads in Japan have well-paid unionized workforces, and they can afford it because management has figured out how to make them extremely productive.  Doing this at the MTA would be a tough job requiring a lot of unsexy changes that few people would appreciate, so there’s little incentive to do this at present.  I don’t think we can expect the MTA to take this on without paying much higher salaries to MTA executives.  We’d also need to rethink capital spending in a way that prioritizes investments that increase labor productivity.  Perhaps in future labor contracts, real wage growth could be linked to productivity growth, and this might even get the labor union interested in increasing productivity.  For the union to get on board, however, I think the MTA would need to simultaneously be growing its transportation business, in order to take advantage of the productivity gains without significantly reducing the workforce.

  1. What sparked your passion to write this paper?

I wrote this paper (“Engineering the New York City Subway: the Thinking Behind the World’s Fastest and Most Convenient Rapid Transit System”) to inspire greater ambition and better design in urban infrastructure.  I want big cities to keep getting bigger and better, so more people can enjoy life in the metropolis.

Planners often express despair and disappointment over projects that fall short of our hopes and dreams, like the Second Avenue Subway and AirTrain LaGuardia.  I’m sympathetic, because I want to raise, not lower, our standards and expectations.  Plus, it’s fun to complain sometimes.  However, to achieve our hopes and dreams, it’s super important to understand and celebrate our successes, and the subway is a magnificent example.  The engineers who designed it were facing extraordinary challenges and working in totally uncharted territory, they came up with a radical design that would depend on unproven technology, they faced heavy opposition from the public (including real estate interests), and yet they won the day.  How?  Through the excellence of their design and the soundness of their thinking.  If they could do that then (with fewer resources and 19th Century technology), think what we could do now.  

The subway is a symbol of New York City, but few seem to know why it has a subway in the first place.  Understanding the thinking behind the unusual design reveals the impressive logic and the great lengths to which these engineers went to see their design perfected and realized.  It is an amazing story, it makes me love this city, and it gives me emotional fuel to persevere and keep working for an even better future.

  1. Throughout your professional career, what is your proudest accomplishment?

I am definitely most proud of speeding up the subway.  I poured my soul into it, fighting an uphill battle for years.  Thus, it is deeply meaningful to me that I can report that trains are several minutes faster (in the range of 2 to 6 percent faster end-to-end running times), and service is more reliable (on-time performance).  For this, I am indebted to Andy Byford for taking me seriously and giving me the opportunity of a lifetime to see my ideas implemented and actually make the subway faster.  Governor Cuomo put his support behind the speed effort too–apparently the influence of “politics” is sometimes a good thing.  

The average passenger might not perceive the improvements, but whether they know it or not, their opportunity circle is a little bit bigger and they have a little bit better life within reach.  Happily, I do perceive the improvements, so I have the added benefit of getting a thrill up my spine every time I notice them on the subway.

  1. What career advice would you give to other YPT’ers interested in your career path?

Be a bureaucrat for a few years.  If you want intimate knowledge of mass transit in the United States today and knowledge of what works and what doesn’t, there’s no place better than the public agencies that directly run big city transit systems.  That’s where all the action is.  Plus, you will be seriously popular at parties. I had no idea how many people I would encounter with such great interest in my job.

Once you have an understanding of how things work, fight the good fight, if you’re inclined.  I’m a troublemaker, in the noblest sense of the word (as used by Charlan Nemeth).  If that’s you, and if you have good-but-unpopular ideas, I say “do it.”  

Try to understand why your good ideas are unpopular.  This will help make sure that your ideas are, in fact, good.  If, for instance, your idea would require your boss to have a lot of difficult conversations, solve that problem too.  If you think you deserve it, take the moral high ground.  Not to put down others, but rather to show how your idea would truly make the city a better place.  That can have a very powerful impact.

Public agencies are not well-suited for innovation, but you can still have a real, positive impact.  There are a lot of good people who will help you, if you first take the initiative.  People will go above and beyond if they can clearly see the virtue, the justice, and the benefits of your idea.  Even if you don’t succeed, just by trying you’ll build an inner pride and learn a ton of practical skills along the way.

  1. What would you want to learn more about or write about next?

Since snapping my fingers won’t do it, I’m doing research for a paper on how you might design a legal framework that enables homesteading of the city’s underground desert (the soil and bedrock beneath the city that presently serves no human purpose), and thereby attract entrepreneurs and investors to develop faster, cheaper, and better transit networks.  This requires expertise in finance, and I’m excited to have Raymond Niles as my co-author, who is an economics professor, an expert on utility infrastructure finance and regulation, and a former Wall Street stock analyst.

Presently, I’m trying to come up with important infrastructure projects that could be built today were such a homesteading framework enacted.  That is, projects that would (1) bring major, visible improvements to the transportation system, (2) be profitable with today’s technology, and (3) occupy the underground desert.  If you have ideas, please let me know.  

If you think for-profit transportation is impractical, immoral, or im-whatever, I’d like to hear from you too.  Help me make sure I’ve addressed any and all potential downsides.

 

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Member Profiles

Member Profile: Robert Joseph

Robert Joseph

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.  

 

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Member Profiles

Member Profile: Casey Barrett

Casey Barrett, EIT, ENV SP
Civil Associate II in Michael Baker’s Civil-Highway Department

I earned my BS in Civil and Environmental Engineering from Manhattan College in 2015. I went on to work for Michael Baker in their Civil-Highway department, where I worked on a variety of projects from streetscape improvements to bridge replacements. My project tasks include Maintenance and Protection of Traffic designs, and Traffic Control and staging plans, which is how traffic patterns are maintained during construction. In addition to being an active YPT member, I’m also involved with Women in Transportation Seminar (WTS) and I’m co-chair of the college outreach committee. In my spare time I enjoy gardening, hiking, doing puzzle, and baking/cooking.

What do you most enjoy about YPT? I’ve really enjoyed the virtual tour series, specifically the old NYC subway lines aerial imagery tour by Rayn Riel. I find it fascinating to see how New York’s mobility has changed (or has not changed) over time. I joined YPT in February 2020 and was looking forward to all the upcoming events. I have enjoyed the topics about NYC’s infrastructure and the networking opportunities YPT has hosted while in quarantine, as a response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

What’s your preferred transport mode and why?

At the moment, my preferred mode of transport is walking. I’m still working from home, so I take walks around my neighborhood in order to get some fresh air. I take a different route so I’m constantly seeing something new every day.

What are you working on that you’re most passionate or proud about (transit-related)?

I’m still waiting on that passion project, but it would be some type of sustainable infrastructure project using the Envision framework.

What is the biggest transit-related problem that you’d like to help solve?

Carbon-Neutral Transportation. The transportation sector generates the largest portion of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. The solution to get to a carbon- neutral transportation sector is multifaceted issue, but I will only touch on a couple topics here. In order to cut carbon, we need to get people to drive less. That means getting people out of their personal vehicles and on to mass transit. This would require a reliable multi-modal mass transit system serving all communities. The mass transit fleet would need to be fueled by clean, renewable energy sources. Best management practices in sustainable transit will require research and development, and knowledge sharing across the industry. Another factor to consider in achieving carbon neutral transportation is the physical infrastructure: highways, roads, bridges, airports, etc. Our nation’s infrastructure is built out of concrete which contributes to 8% of global carbon emissions. Therefore, future infrastructure improvement projects will need to be sourced from sustainable resources with a low carbon output. 

Do you have any tips (career advice) for YPT’ers interested in your career path?

Young professionals should join YPT (or any professional society) because it allows you to grow your network outside of the people you work with. Sometimes professional societies offer opportunities, such as tours or training, that your employer doesn’t offer.