Young Professionals in Transportation http://yptransportation.org
Volume 4, Issue 2 Fall 2011
In this issue: •
Replacing the Gas Tax: Lessons from Kentucky’s Weight-Distance Tax .......1 My Experiences as a Social Media Manager for a Transportation Organization...................3
Fall 2011 Chair’s Column............................5
YPT Boston Takes the Greenway.................................5
YPT NYC Presents: Financing Infrastructure: Past, Present, and Future.......................7
I Know What You Did Last Summer: YPT NYC’s Summer Tour Series.....................8
Fall Breakfast Series Recap: Jeffrey Moerdler, Port Authority Commissioner and Greg Kelly, President of Transportation at Parsons Brinckerhoff..................11
Upcoming Events – TRB Edition!...................12
Replacing the Gas Tax: Lessons from Kentucky’s Weight-Distance Tax By William H. Adams II, Attorney, Kentucky Transportation Cabinet The fuel tax in increasingly becoming less viable as a model for funding America’s transportation infrastructure. Whether or not we have seen William H. Adams II the peak of personal automobile usage, the shift towards energy efficient technologies is making gallons of gasoline an obsolete method for capturing road usage. Although it remains to be seen how transportation infrastructure will be funded post SAFETEA-LU,1 the vehicle-miles traveled (VMT) tax appears to be a leading contender to replace the fuel tax. Kentucky’s weight-distance tax2 is an insightful illustration of the problems which will have to be addressed to make the VMT tax a truly viable replacement for the fuel tax. Kentucky is one of only four states which assess a weight-distance tax (the others being New Mexico, New York, and Oregon). The “weight-distance” moniker is a bit misleading as the tax is calculated solely on distance; the weight of the vehicle only determines whether the tax applies. Kentucky’s version requires that motor carriers (i.e. truckers) having a combined gross weight or licensed weight in excess of 59,999 pounds to pay a weightdistance tax at a rate of 2.85¢ per mile. The collection of this tax requires carriers to keep extensive data such as date, routes, and length Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act: A Legacy for Users, Pub.L. 109-59. 1
KRS 138.660 et seq.
of trips taken, beginning and ending odometer or hubometer readings, fuel receipts, and mileage by jurisdiction (the latter is not applicable for purely intrastate carriers). The carriers then use this data to file a quarterly tax return which determines their tax liability for the preceding quarter. The first obstacle for a VMT tax is determining the number of vehicle miles driven. It goes without saying that the average individual does not keep detailed records of his or her driving data, and requiring drivers to do so would be met with resistance. Assuming GPS tracking to also be a political non-starter, the simplest approach would be to have an annual, visual inspection of the odometer of each vehicle. This could be done along with the annual registration or, for jurisdictions that require them, with emissions inspections. Such odometer readings would create a disincentive to have a properly-functioning odometer. In fact, Kentucky’s weight-distance tax auditors frequently hear claims from carriers that their odometers have never worked—despite the illegality of operating with such faulty equipment. A VMT tax would therefore need a method for assuming a number of miles when it appears the odometer is not functioning. Kentucky refers to this as a jeopardy assessment and it is utilized when carriers cannot provide enough documentation to support their tax return. In order to be effective as a deterrent, the assumed rate should be on the high end of a statistical average and/or should include stiff penalties. A very real concern for a VMT tax is that, in the end, tracking vehicle mileage is an inexact science as a variety of factors contributes to uncertainty. For Kentucky’s motor carriers, this can include faulty odometers, off-road mileage (e.g., the significant miles traveled by
M obility Matters coal haulers on privately-owned mining roads for which no mileage tax is required), and out-of-jurisdiction mileage. Some of the same issues would arise with a VMT tax (e.g., faulty equipment, travel on non-public roads, and international miles). As anyone who has attempted to use a GPS navigation system in a dense, urban area or in poor weather conditions knows, even a GPS-based system would not be 100% reliable. A certain amount of error is therefore built into the system.
the biggest impediment to establishing a VMT tax. There is no obvious solution and most possibilities would impose additional requirements on local or state officials while the revenue would assumedly be directed to the federal government for redistribution. Whenever a burden is imposed, there will be those who seek to avoid their obligation. The final obstacle to a VMT tax is how to enforce it against those who try to cheat the system. When motor carriers don’t pay their due weightdistance tax, their operating authority is revoked and the next trip through a highway weigh station will catch them if the Commercial Vehicle Enforcement or State Police officers don’t catch them first. The result is more than a ticket: the motor carrier has to correct the problem before the truck is allowed to resume operation on the highways, essentially leaving it dead in the water in the interim. This is where the comparisons break down. Passenger car drivers are much more numerous and are not required to routinely stop for inspections. Catching non-compliant vehicles would be more analogous to catching vehicles without proper registration. Therefore, tying the VMT tax to the annual (or, in some states, biennial) vehicle registration seems to be the best option. Unfortunately, this can lead to a long lag time between the act incurring the obligation (driving the mileage) and the administration of the obligation. This further buttresses the position that the revenue should be collected (or secured, as with a bond) prior to or simultaneously with the incurrence of the obligation.
Combining this uncertainty with Constitutional due process concerns can result in procedural delays and increased administration costs. At the very least, the Constitution requires that an administrative hearing would need to be provided for taxpayers to protest the amount of tax due. An appeals option would also have to be created. In Kentucky, motor carriers have the right to an administrative protest hearing within the Transportation Cabinet, another before the Kentucky Board of Tax Appeals, and an appeal to the courts. While these due process concerns should not prevent a VMT tax, they would add to the administrative cost over the current fuel tax system which by its nature eliminates the need for such a system. Simply stated, there is no concern that a fuel tax paid at the pump is not owed. Another big issue is how to collect a VMT tax. Motor carriers are better able to anticipate and prepare for their quarterly tax bill than would be the individual car owner. Even so, collections from motor carriers at the end of each quarter are a significant problem, especially with operators on a hand-tomouth budget. Assuming an annual reporting of mileage, most personal vehicle drivers would be unable to pay their share of the tax in one lump payment.
Kentucky’s weight-distance tax is far from a perfect system; it requires extensive record-keeping and self-reporting which can lead to auditing complications. The Kentucky Transportation Cabinet and the Kentucky Transportation Center at the University of Kentucky are currently working with other interested parties in a study to improve the administration of the tax. Nevertheless, examining the system as it exists provides illustrations of similar issues that would hinder the implementation of a vehicle mile tax as a replacement for the fuel tax as the primary funding mechanism for transportation infrastructure. It appears, however, that any and all of these issues can be overcome with diligent and innovative thinking. Perhaps the biggest challenge to implementing a VMT tax remains Newton’s First Law of Motion: overcoming the inertia of the status quo.
The options, then, are either to require an up-front payment or surety bond (Kentucky requires a bond for motor carriers whose ability to pay is called into question) or to create a pay-as-you-go system. There is much room for creativity with the latter option. Estimated monthly payments with a year’s end reconciliation—à la the income tax—is a possibility. Another possibility which may serve to transition between a fuel tax and a VMT tax is to link a fuel surcharge with individual accounts so that each time fuel is purchased, a portion of it gets paid into the individual’s VMT tax account. The collection and administration issue is perhaps
M obility Matters My Experiences as a Social Media Manager for a Transportation Organization
requested that Janet Fraser, a student at Marshall University and Mirzayan Fellow in TRB, explore the use of social media among transportation organizations and professionals.
By Lisa Berardi Marflak, Transportation Research Board
Janet’s analysis found that several state transportation organizations and some federal transportation agencies were using social media for professional purposes. She let the communications office know that tight networks of transportation professionals are talking to each other about transportation, technology, and the intersection of these two topics. At the time of her analysis, most of these entities were using Twitter.
This article is written by the author and does not contain the views or opinions of the Transportation Research Board or the National Academies. It’s hard to believe that just three years ago, use of social media was considered to be a fad by many professionals and organizations. It was the same year that I started working for the Transportation Research Board, a division of the National Academies. In 2008, my friends encouraged me to open up an account on Facebook. As for Twitter, it wasn’t even on my radar. Fast-forward to three years later and many organizations use social media to better understand how their audience perceives their products. I’m no longer a social media novice, now managing TRB’s Facebook and Twitter pages. TRB staff use the hashtag (#TRBAM) to get a sense of what the attendees are thinking and how well their experiences are going during our 11,000 person Annual Meeting, held each January in Washington, DC. While we know that we’re only reaching out to a small portion of TRB’s overall audience, Twitter and Facebook have helped TRB develop a personal connection with our volunteers and meeting attendees.
Lisa Berardi Marflak (center), with Kendra Levine (right) and Mary Beth Ikard (left) at the YPT Transportation Research Board Annual Meeting 2010 Happy Hour and Tweetup
Starting social media at TRB TRB was reluctant to become involved in social media. Some individuals at TRB and the National Academies saw the use of social media as simply the latest fad. Others were concerned that social media could make organizations vulnerable to complaints or criticisms from outsiders. Additionally, they were concerned that enabling comments through social media could dilute the credibility of products produced by TRB and the National Academies.
Learning that an audience was out there and eager for transportation content led to TRB’s decision to start using Twitter. In addition, Janet and I showed management how conversations occur using Twitter, and our supervisors felt comfortable knowing that the public cannot post information directly on TRB’s Twitter page. During this exploratory phase, I started my own Twitter account and started learning how to use it, since any institutional TRB social media pages would be managed by me in the Communications office. Janet taught me the Twitter jargon and showed me how individuals and organizations were using Twitter to share information.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, we spoke to social media advocates who saw its use as a panacea for all communication problems. We heard over and over again that if we simply started a Facebook or Twitter page, people will flock to our feeds and start a discussion. Both opinions were troubling for TRB’s small communications office. In typical National Academies fashion, we turned to smart people for advice. TRB staff began examining the use of social media across transportation organizations and individual transportation professionals. Brie Schwartz, a TRB technology expert, had received several requests from committee members about TRB using social media and
Current use of social media TRB officially started using Twitter in December, 2009. We added Facebook a year later. TRB developed guidance for committees on starting their own social networking pages, and I regularly collaborate with other divisions in the National Academies to provide advice about social media use.
M obility Matters When people ask me about monitoring and updating Twitter and Facebook for TRB, I tell them that for me, it’s not always easy. Social media needs maintenance every day. If you are speaking on behalf of an organization, you have to balance the information that your organization wants to disseminate with information that that makes your audience excited. When I talk to people about monitoring and evaluating social media, I usually mention that it’s great to have more than one person take on the task. For our office, it’s just me, periodic interns, and a backup just in case I get sick. There are days when I feel like my efforts are not enough.
that social media is currently a job, handled by one department or one person in an organization. He predicted that in the future, social media will be a skill that all employees will need to have. All professions, not just markerters, will need to be a virtual representative of their company, answering questions and engaging prospective clients. He likened the social media movement to typing. Thirty years ago, there were typing specialists and departments dedicated to the profession. But now, all people are expected to know how to type. He went on to say that social media has moved past the “fad” stage and is now a fixture in professional communication. If we want to be successful, we need to build our online networking proficiency.
When I feel like that, I try to remind myself that the social media’s return-on-investment goes beyond quantitative values such as the number of fans or followers that you have, or the number of clicks on your links. It’s also more than your Klout.com score, which is an online website that ranks influence among social media users. There is also a qualitative value of listening to my peers’ stories, learning what’s important to them, and contributing to the conversation. In essence, it’s about becoming a member of a community.
I’m not sure how pervasive social media will be throughout the federal and state departments of transportations, but at TRB, we receive questions related to research that I usually allocate to librarians or program officers. If they were also using Twitter or Facebook, these individuals could provide quick answers and even form communities to build our TRB brand. As we move forward with social media in TRB, I will be advocating that more program officers and more directors start using these tools to listen to and contribute to the conversation.
In September, one of TRB’s committees held a free, online conference on developing your own social networks for professional purposes. It was a huge success, with more than 400 virtual attendees. Several topics were covered, too many to provide to you in detail. One of the themes of the conference was helping people better understand what made social media successful to organizations, and how others can leverage their peers’ experience to replicate that success for their own organization.
Maybe you’re a social media novice, or perhaps you’re monitoring a page for your organization. If you already haven’t done so, get on Twitter or Facebook and start talking to your transportation peers. The people using these channels talk about all types of transportation topics, not just about using social media. They’re excited to learn about your experiences and share what’s worked for them. I would recommend joining the Transportation Social Media community on Facebook, and following the TRB Annual Meeting Hashtag, #TRBAM, around December and January to find other peers that talk about transportation and social media. Experiment with your own account, have fun, and most importantly, listen.
I had little to do with the overall organization of the conference; Brie Schwartz and Stephanie Camay from TRB’s Public Involvement in Transportation Committee planned the conference and selected the presenters. I was impressed by the presenters’ interest to engage with their listeners, answer questions, and create a dialogue to better inform the audience. These social media leaders, both online and in real life, place a primary importance on listening to their audience. Their interest in listening has likely propelled them to become social media leaders. Where do I think we’re going with social media?
Watch recordings from TRB’s Social Media Workshop: http:// bit.ly/TRBSMC
I recently attended a conference and heard social media strategist Jay Baer speak. He made a bold prediction. He said
Join the Transportation Social Media group on Facebook: http://on.fb.me/TRBTSM
M obility Matters Fall 2011 Chair’s Column
who express interest in either our Financing Infrastructure speaker panel, our Summer Vacation site tour series, our Fall Leadership Breakfast series, or joined us at one of our Happy Hours - YPT NYC is gaining real traction and we’re looking forward to building on the early success in the future. There are a few articles on our events in this edition -- be sure to check them out!
By Jeff Bernstein, Chair YPT NYC
Live from New York -- it’s YPT! By the time you’re reading this, The Greater New York City chapter of YPT will have just celebrated its 1-year anniversary and we’ve seen some pretty impressive results so far. From just a handful of us sitting in a classroom at Cooper Union to the over 100 people clamoring to get on a tour of the Second Avenue Subway construction project and to the 250 others
To echo Katherine’s (Austin) and Candace’s (Boston) comments from previous Chair’s columns, starting, growing, and leading a chapter of YPT has been an energizing, while often challenging, experience. It has been quite rewarding, fun, and exciting to work together with a group of highly talented and motivated Board Members as we work together to nurture YPT NYC from a concept into a vibrant reality. I encourage all who are interested in getting involved with YPT to please contact us at email@example.com.
YPT Boston Takes the Greenway
Otherwise known as the “Big Dig,” I-93 once plowed a clear path through the heart of the city as a six lane, doubled-decked elevated structure that served as the main highway route through downtown Boston for over 40 years. This “Central Artery” created a divisive barrier between the waterfront and old North End neighborhood and the rest of the city, not to mention excessive noise and air pollution in some of Boston’s premier tourist and business districts. By the 1970s, heavy congestion plagued the elevated roadway due to poor design with numerous on-and-off ramps and no breakdown lanes, and once thriving neighborhoods began to decline. Engineers and planners knew something dramatic needed to happen in order to remedy the problems of this elevated roadway, and they settled on a plan to dismantle it entirely and rebuild it underground.
Julia Prange, YPT Boston On a cool and slightly blustery September evening in Boston, more than 30 young transportation professionals came out to participate in YPT Boston’s technical tour of the Rose F. Kennedy Greenway, a series of urban parks built as part of Boston’s “Big Dig.” This was the tour in YPT Boston’s series of technical tours that kicked-off earlier this year. The GreenThe Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy Greenway conway tour was led by two nects the financial district, the waterfront, experts from the Boston and tourist attractions located in downtown community: the Boston Boston. Redevelopment Authority’s Peter Gori and the Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy Greenway Conservancy’s Linda Jonash. This was a particularly unique opportunity for Boston’s young transportation professionals to gain an inside perspective on one of the world’s most ambitious (and costly) infrastructure projects while making connections with new colleagues in the field. For those unfamiliar with the project, the Greenway is much more than an expanse of open space and walking paths that traverse the center of the city. Rather, it is a roughly 1.5 mile long series of parks and public spaces built on top of an interstate highway.
As new tunnels were dug in the 1990’s and demolition of the hulking superstructure began in the mid 2000’s, engineers and builders faced the challenge of reorganizing an entire
M obility Matters transportation system while keeping the city and its web of age old utilities functioning. As Ms. Jonash explained to the YPT group, “the Big Dig was first and foremost a transportation project, but it was also a city building project”, and one that required everyone from soil specialists to architects to planners to engineers to archeologists to complete. Because the existing utilities were so old at the time, organizers use the project as an opportunity to build an entirely new sewer, water, and electric system, all the while keeping the lights on and the pipes pumping in Boston.
and even a carousel. All the while it was impossible not to notice the intricate flows of traffic coming up and out from under the tunnels, the vibrations of the subways simultaneously running beneath, and the sense of open possibility that still persists in this newly unveiled gem of green space in the heart of historic Boston.
Boston Redevelopment Authority’s Peter Gori talks with members of YPT Boston
Mr.Gori led the group through the challenges the project faced in reducing what was once a corridor with 19 on/off ramps to one with just nine on/off ramps. Also, while the interstate portion of the corridor was moved underground, its above-ground portion was not just left as a park, but a surface roadway with multiple intersections, crossings, and lane changes. Naturally, much debate took place around how that new found urban space should be allocated to vehicular traffic and how much should be made into parkspace for the Greenway, as well as how to meet the needs of bicyclists and pedestrians. In the end, the project maintained four to six travel lines with sidewalks on either side, and the Greenway was constructed down the middle. Bike lanes have yet to make an appearance, but the City remains committed to making the once elevated highway corridor into as much of a walking district as possible, and there are several installed Hubway Bike Share stations along and adjacent to the corridor.
Meandering through the Greenway as a pedestrian, as all YPTers were that evening, one can’t help but notice the constant changes in both landscaping and park design that characterize the space from one portion to the next. As Mr.Gori explained “Through the extensive public process that took place prior to development of the Greenway, it was clear that each surrounding neighborhood had very different visions and desires for what the space would look like and how it would be used.” For example, residents of the densely populated North End were hungry for open green space where they could throw a frisbee or walk the dog, while residents in Chinatown asked for open hardscape that could be used for festivals and gathering. The needs of each neighborhood’s residents were reflected in the final design of the Greenway. The system of parks has continued to develop as funding streams have changed and organizers have learned that the old theory of “if you build it, they will come” does not necessarily apply to a Greenway, as changes to sculptures, landscaping, activity centers, and the introduction of food trucks have all played important roles in attracting new people to visit.
The group began the tour just outside of South Station in the heart of the Financial District, where the Greenway is largely a passive landscaped lawn with some new public art. The tour ended near Rowes Wharf, where the space becomes much more interactive with play fountains, chairs,
The tour was definitely a hit – and we encourage anyone that visits Boston to add a stroll on the Greenway right up there on their list of tourist hot spots – and for those that are local to continue supporting the Greenway. This transformation in downtown Boston is more than just a huge
Rose F. Kennedy Greenway Conservancy’s Linda Jonash talks with members of YPT Boston
M obility Matters A huge thanks to the event tour guides, Peter Gori of the Boston Redevelopment Authority, which is the City’s planning and economic development agency, and Linda Jonash of the Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy Greenway Conservancy, that stewards the Greenway on behalf of the public.
engineering and traffic feat – but also, and arguably more importantly, is now a place that connects neighborhoods, provides a public space for interaction with both residents and tourists, and supports transportation infrastructure that goes beyond just the car.
Like YPT Boston on Facebook and follow us on Twitter! Sign up for our mailing list and get more information at www. yptboston.org.
YPT Boston Friends and Members pose for a group shot near the end of the Greenway tour.
Spotlight on YPT New York City YPT NYC Presents: Financing Infrastructure: Past, Present, and Future By Kate Ward and Jeff Bernstein, Chair, YPTNYC On Wednesday May 25th, YPT-NYC, kicked off their summer programming with a panel “Financing Infrastructure: Past, Present and Future” at the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey offices on Madison Avenue. Almost a hundred New York transportation enthusiasts gathered to hear leaders from the public and private sector discuss the impact recent changes in the economic landscape have had on financing infrastructure projects.
The panelists (clockwise from left: Andrew Haughwout, Seth Pinsky, Chris Ward, Michael Likosky, Karl Kuchel) debate public-private partnerships. (photo credit: Jeff Bernstein)
After an initial question about municipal bonds and their viability in today’s financial markets, the discussion quickly turned to the recent growth in alternative funding mechanisms, such as public-private partnerships. The Port Authority is currently exploring the use of this funding method, including an early 2012 public-private partnership to replace the Goethals Bridge.1 New York City has recently requested industry input for “creative” public-private partnerships for its parking assets. Even with the interest surrounding these
The panel was moderated by Andrew Haughwout, Vice President of the Research and Statistics Group at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. The private sector was represented by Michael Likosky, Director of the Center for Law and Public Finance, as well as a law professor at Fordham University and New York University, and Karl Kuchel the Transportation and Infrastructure Bank Manager for Macquarie Infrastructure Partners. From the public sector YPT was lucky enough to get the Executive Director of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, Chris Ward, and President of the New York City’s Economic Development Corporation, Seth Pinsky.
“Public-private partnership bridges Goethals funding gap” August 14, 2011 http://www.crainsnewyork.com/article/20110814/SUB/308149977 1
M obility Matters alternative funding methods, both Mr. Ward and Mr. Pinsky were quick to point out that public-private partnerships are not the definitive answer to infrastructure finance problems. They explained that, at the end of the day, the bottom line for private companies would always be profit. By creating a public-private partnership government agencies could be able to build infrastructure projects that would otherwise not be financially feasible, but they have to ensure that the partnership is crafted carefully. Mr. Kuchel talked about his experiences in the private sector and public-private partnerships that Macquarie has been involved in, including the Chicago Skyway and Indiana Toll Road. He was also quick to agree with Mr. Pinksy and Mr. Ward that they are not the definitive answer to the financial problems that the region is facing.
At the end of the event the question turned to how each panelist got to where they are today. Seth Pinsky talked about moving from the private sector, where he worked in real estate, to running a large public agency and Karl Kuchel spoke about his career progression through the Finance world at Macquarie. Chris Ward had a much different path to where he is today, starting off at the Department of Consumer Affairs after getting a Masters in Theology at Harvard Divinity School. He worked at many different city agencies throughout his career including the Economic Development Corporation, where he was Senior Vice President of Transportation and Commerce, and later at the Department of Environmental Protection, as Commissioner. His advice to people who wanted to enter the world of transportation and infrastructure was not to follow in his footsteps. He told the attendees simply to passionate about what they were doing and to never stop learning.
The panel talked for more than an hour on the challenges that the region is facing as well as opportunities they see in the future for further development. Each panelist weighed in on the possibilities of different kinds of financing options, including different forms of an infrastructure bank, all agreed that there was not one way that could be used as a universal solution. The conversation quickly turned to the challenges the public sector faces that the private sector does not. Chris Ward and Seth Pinsky entered a lively debate about the resources available to people working for public agencies.
Overall the event was a huge success with a great turnout. There was a great conversation between the panelists and everyone was engaged and attentive throughout the panel. If time permitted, the event would have surely lasted for a few more hours. To learn more about this and other YPTNYC events, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
I Know What You Did Last Summer: YPT NYC Summer Tour Series
was a visit to the secret sub-sub-basement of Grand Central Terminal, the M42, which was a sabotage target of Nazi spies who landed off the coast of Long Island during World War Two to hinder troop and goods movements. The M42 contains modern equipment to power the Terminal and tracks as well as what was used when the terminal opened in 1913. Although more modern equipment exists today, access is still highly guarded.
By Jeff Berstein, Julia Kerson, Emma Chapman and Ryan Walsh, YPT NYC Overlapping jurisdictions, complex transportation systems that move millions of people a day, and one of the most aggressive capital construction programs in recent history make this the perfect time to be a transportation professional in New York City. This summer, YPT-NYC provided 120 YPT members and friends with the unique opportunity to learn just what it takes to operate, maintain, and expand the intricate regional transportation networks of New York City through our Inaugural Summer Vacation Tour Series. The series began with an insider’s tour of Grand Central Terminal, one of the city’s most iconic public spaces, hosted by MTA Metro-North Railroad’s Dan Brucker. “From the deepest basement in New York, to the catwalks across the great windows, the terminal is breathtaking and embodies all that is magnificent about New York and its railroad,” noted YPTNYC Board Member Emma Chapman. One of the highlights
Dan Brucker showing the secret M42 sub-sub-basement (photo credit Ryan Walsh)
M obility Matters
Grand Central Terminal’s iconic main concourse (photo credits: Ryan Walsh (L), Jeff Bernstein (R))
The series continued with a tour of the oldest substation in New York City Transit’s system, Substation 13, which has recently received National Landmark Status and is currently undergoing restoration. Machinery dating back to 1900 is still present and is juxtaposed against new equipment. All of the substations are connected to NYCT’s Power Control Center (PCC) allowing for control of the massive system to be transferred between the two facilities.
how the system responds to incidents through watching a response first-hand. At a tour of the Michael J. Quill Bus Depot, a major bus storage and repair facility, YPT-NYC members and friends learned about the operational challenges associated with keeping an ageing fleet up to the demands of 696 million riders a year. The Michael J. Quill Bus Depot is one of the largest in the system (and the largest in Manhattan) and is the former New York headquarters and bus garage for Greyhound. From the TOP of the George Washington Bridge, YPTers learned about the challenges of moving 120 million vehicles a year across the heaviest traveled bridge in the US. Moses Gates, an urban planner, blogger and YPT-NYC member, chronicled the visit on his blog (www.allcitynewyork.com): “We started with a few warmups - first a short introduction and overview where we got our day pass badges. Then the bridge operations headquarters where they showed off the surveillance system and a new fire truck. Finally to the anchor room, where we made our way all the way down to where the giant metal ropes that make up the suspension cables for the tower unwrap and then split into their individuals wires before they’re anchored into cement. Then it was time to head to the top. We took a two-minute ride in the elevator, a half-dozen people at a time. That got us to first mezzanine about 3/4 of the way up. Then we had our choice of a second elevator or the stairs to the second mezzanine, before heading through the saddle room, up a ladder, and out a hatch onto the top.”
Power infrastructure at Substation 13 (photo credit Emma Chapman)
YPT-NYCers were also given a tour of New York City Transit’s Rail Control Center, hosted by YPT-NYC Board Member Eugene Hucks. The tour included the operating theater where all 24 subway lines are monitored and controlled and YPTers were shown how the new countdown clocks work as well as
M obility Matters Each bit of public infrastructure in New York City has the challenge of serving multiple stakeholders, and the Brooklyn Cruise Terminal and Port facilities in Red Hook, Brooklyn, is no exception. The facility utilizes intricate multi-agency leasing arrangements to simultaneously accommodate shippers, beer distributers, pedestrians, cyclists, and cruise ships. Talk about complicated! On the capital construction side, we took tour attendees on site at the No. 7 Extension to 34th Street â€“ a $2.1B program that will extend the No. 7 line from Times Square to 34th Street and 11th avenue, thereby opening up the far west side of Manhattan for new development, known as the Hudson Yards. We descended into the newly excavated 34th Street Station cavern and walked through portions of the unfinished tunnels. YPT NYC at the Brooklyn Bridge (Photo credits: Ryan Walsh)
Next Stop, Times Square! (photo credit: Jeff Bernstein)
World Trade Center site, July 7, 2011 (Photo credit: Emma Chapman)
At the World Trade Center Construction tour, YPTers were given an overview of the incredibly complex Ground Zero site and were shown plans for a transit hub that will connect 14 New York City Transit lines with the bi-state PATH subway system. It was a great prelude to our Fall Leadership Breakfast with Commissioner Jeffrey Moerdler of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey (see article below).
YPT NYCers underneath 34th Street and 11th Avenue (photo credits: Jeff Bernstein)
NYC DOT guided us through a tour of the Brooklyn Bridge Reconstruction Project, partially funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. This Landmark 1883 structure is one of the more visible icons of NYC and NYC transportation and is being restored after 127 years. After walking over the bridge from Manhattan to Brooklyn with the project team, we were taken to a unique DOT iron shop where replica parts are being fabricated to replace deteriorated bridge components.
With such an enthusiastic response from our membership base and more places to see, YPT-NYC is looking forward to replicating the success of the summer tour series next year. Please email email@example.com with any site tour suggestions or if you can facilitate a tour.
M obility Matters Fall Breakfast Series Recap: Jeffrey Moerdler, Port Authority Commissioner and Greg Kelly, President of Transportation at Parsons Brinckerhoff
sey which enabled the Plaza to be completed without stalling the construction below-grade. Mr. Moerdler described the sequencing and coordination of the project as a “jigsaw puzzle,” in that many parts are coming together simultaneously and much of this work is below-grade and out of the public eye. Today, the pace of construction is the fastest it has been since the project began, with approximately one floor of 1 World Trade Center completed every five days.
By Manasvi Menon On October 26, 2011, YPT members gathered to hear Port Authority Commissioner Jeffrey Moerdler speak about the World Trade Center project, hosted by Mintz Levin. The breakfast talk, “World Trade Center Reconstruction Progress,” kicked off YPT-NYC’s Fall Breakfast Series and was a unique opportunity for YPT-NYC members to hear an up-to-date status of the project, which has suffered a number setbacks over the past decade, and learn where the project is heading from someone who is directly involved in the project’s progress. Mr. Moerdler provided a perspective that was different from that of a private developer or architect and spoke on a variety of issues related to the project, including stakeholder issues and the organizational and political challenges of completing such a large-scale project.
The next event in the Fall Breakfast Series was held with Greg Kelly on November 8th at the Parsons Brinckerhoff (PB) headquarters. Mr. Kelly, who as President of Transportation at PB manages 70 offices and 5,000 employees nationwide, focused on the role of the private sector in serving the public transportation industry. Speaking to an intimate audience of about fifteen people around a boardroom table and many others online (the event was live-tweeted by @ yptnyc), Mr. Kelly emphasized the role of political leadership in getting major infrastructure projects off the ground. He emphasized that “our industry needs to get better at telling the story of why we should invest in infrastructure,” by shifting the way in which we discuss projects and focusing on messages that resonate with people outside the industry. He spoke of leadership consistency as a necessity and that transportation professionals need to connect projects with the policy cycle -- again, circling back to the notion that we need to change our narrative and how we advocate for transportation investment. He stressed that one aspect of our roles as transportation professionals, and as future leaders in the field, is to provide state and local leaders with sound information.
Commissioner Jeffrey Moerdler presenting to YPT NYC (Photo credit: Manasvi Menon)
Mr. Moerdler walked through the site using visual images and architectural renderings, thereby contextualizing the project for the audience. He covered a range of hot-button topics, such as security on site and creative construction workarounds that enabled the Memorial Park to be completed in time for the site’s 10th anniversary. Mr. Moerdler explained how Port Authority Executive Director Chris Ward proposed building a roof over the PATH station and the underground memorial museum--effectively the floor of the Memorial Plaza-- to allow above-grade construction to begin while work continued underground. Materials were brought in underground via the PATH tracks from New Jer-
YPT NYCers with Greg Kelly at PB Headquarters (photo credit: Manasvi Menon)
Mr. Kelly also addressed the role of public private partnerships in transportation -- “it is a financing mechanism and not a funding mechanism”-- and spoke of how state and
M obility Matters local governments will continue to take a priority role in enacting projects, while the federal government’s involvement should remain “light touch.” Mr. Kelly, who spent eight years with New Jersey Transit in between several years at PB, provided insight into how public and private sector experiences, while completely different, were equally valuable to his professional development. His talk, which touched upon career development, broader issues facing the transporta-
tion industry, and the intersection of public and private interests, was an informative and engaging way to conclude the Fall Breakfast Series.
YPT Upcoming Events – TRB Edition!
Event: YMC Session: Building Your Professional Network in 140 Characters or Less: How TRB: TRB: Social Media Tools Can Enhance Professional Networking | When: Tuesday, January 24, 2012, 1:30pm – 3:15pm Where: Hilton International West Building a professional network is an integral element to the career success of a young professional. However, with factors like the complexity of the transportation industry and growing workloads, professionals encounter challenges with networking. Social media can help! In a roundtable setting, to provide an interactive dialogue, transportation professionals will share their experiences in using social media to build their personal communication portfolios and professional networks.
The two events in the Fall Breakfast Series--both of which were at waitlist capacity --built on the momentum created by YPT-NYC’s Summer Tour Series and served to further establish YPT-NYC’s local presence as a valuable resource for emerging leaders in transportation.
Join Young Professionals in Transportation at the 91st Transportation Research Board (TRB) Annual Meeting in Washington, DC. YPT’s leadership has several exciting TRB activities planned that will bring together our members and friends from across the country! We’re also providing a listing of the events of TRB’s Young Member’s Council (YMC), and we’re collaborating with YMC for our TRB Happy Hour! Get excited for the event, and learn all about it, by checking out our 10-week blog series all about the TRB Annual Meeting on YPT Voice. Event: TRB: Young Members Council (YMC) Task Force Meeting When: Monday, January 23, 2012, 12pm – 1pm Where: Hilton Columbia Hall #11
Event: YMC/YPT Young Professionals Reception When: Tuesday, January 24, 2012, 5:45pm – 8:15pm Where: Marriott Mezzanine Co-hosted by the TRB Young Members Council (YMC) and Young Professionals in Transportation (YPT), a national professional association, this networking reception is open to all young professionals and supporters to discuss career development and to meet peers from around the country.
Event: YMC Session: Choose Your Acronym: Credentials for Transportation Professionals When: Monday, January 23, 2012, 3:45pm – 5:30pm Where: Omni Regency Ballroom Credentials demonstrate your commitment to a specialization and the transportation profession in general. Further, holding a credential can result in higher wages, improved proposal success rates, networking opportunities, and continuing education. This session will bring together representatives from five different organizations that offer credentials relevant to transportation professionals. Hear more about each credential and select which one will help advance your career.
Event: YMC Session: Young Member Roundtable: Pressing Policy Issues in Transportation When: Wednesday, January 25, 2012, 2:30pm – 4:00pm Where: Marriott - Maryland B In this session, young transportation professionals from a variety of backgrounds will hold a roundtable discussion to provide their perspectives on pressing policy issues related to their disciplines. This non-technical dialogue is designed to encourage interaction between transportation professionals across the entire policy spectrum and will help identify common goals and challenges faced by all.
Event: YPT Chapters Leadership Working Group When: Tuesday, January 24, 2012, 9:00am – 11:30am Where: Omni Shoreham - Council Room More information will be posted on the YPT calendar as it becomes available. For details on this event, please contact National Chapters Liaison Brittney Kohler at yptcontact@ gmail.com
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YPT Photo Album! YPT NYC George Washington Bridge Tour
YPT Boston Elections and Happy Hour
YPT Austin Tour of Austin-Bergstorm International Airport
YPT National: http://yptransportation.org/ YPT Austin: https://sites.google.com/site/yptaustin/home YPT Boston: http://yptboston.org/ YPT NYC: https://sites.google.com/site/yptnyc/
M obility Matters YPT National Chapter Board of Directors, 2011-2012 Nick Perfili, YPT Chair
Michael Rodriguez, Vice Chair for Membership
Chanel Winston, Deputy Chair
Sophie Guiny, Vice Chair for Programs
Aaron Zimmerman, Vice Chair for Administration – Secretary
Brittney Kohler, Director at Large (Chapter Development)
Aimee Custis, Vice Chair for Communication
Alek Pochowski, Director at Large (Sponsorships)
Transit Planner Fairfax County DOT
Associate Consultant Parsons Brinckerhoff
Strategic Planning, Procurement & Public Finance US DOT – FTA
Senior Consultant Booz Allen Hamilton
Senior Transportation Planner Loudoun County Office of Transportation Services
Manager, Infrastructure Initiatives ASCE
Program Manager – Outreach & Education Transportation Learning Center
Engineering Associate / Planner Kittelson & Associates
Bud McDonald, Vice Chair for Finance – Treasurer
Federal Programs Financial Analyst, AASHTO
Board of Advisors YPT’s Board of Advisors are preeminent public and private sector leaders in transportation with a wide range of exemplarily experience in the field. We are grateful for their participation and willingness to assist the development of a new generation of transportation professionals.
Mary Peters, Former Secretary of the United States
Janet Friedl Kavinoky, Director of Transportation
Jack Basso, Chief Operating Officer, AASHTO
Donna McLean, Vice Chairman of the Board,
Department of Transportation
Infrastructure, US Chamber of Commerce
National Railroad Passenger Corporation (Amtrak)
Mortimer Downey, Chairman, Parsons Brinckerhoff
Bill Millar, President, American Public Transportation
Bipartisan Policy Center
Emeka Moneme, Executive Director, Carmen Group
Jane Garvey, North American Chairman,
Gloria Shepherd, Associate Administrator for Planning,
Environment, and Realty, Federal Highway Administration
Jonathan Gifford, Professor and Associate Dean for George Mason University’s Transportation Policy, Operations, & Logistics Masters Program
Stephen Van Beek, Chief of Policy and Strategy at
John Horsley, Executive Director, AASHTO
Bob Skinner, Executive Director, Transportation Research
Tony Kane, Director of Engineering and Technical Services, AASHTO
Mobility Matters Editor: Shana Johnson
Transportation Planner, Foursquare Integrated Transportation Planning
Mobility Matters Design and Layout: Alpha Wingfield Visual Information Specialist, Research and Innovative Technology Administration, United States Department of Transportation
Mobility Matters is a quarterly publication of Young Professionals in Transportation. The views expressed in the articles published in Mobility Matters represent only the views of their authors, and not those of YPT. YPT strives to incorporate articles in Mobility Matters that represent a diverse range of perspectives on transportation and cover all transportation modes. If you are interested in contributing to Mobility Matters please email Shana Johnson, Editor, Mobility Matters, at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
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Thanks to our 2011 YPT Sponsors Trustee Level
YPT would also like to thank our other partners: APTA, TransUrban, Cambridge Systematics, and High Street Consulting Group