A Transit Vision for the Tri-State Region

North Jersey Record – October 12, 2018

On August 23, 2018, the North Jersey Record published an op-ed on transit in New Jersey that called for a new vision for the mass transit systems serving the tri-state region. Here is my vision, based on my experience of having created and chaired the PATH Riders Council for the past four years. Let’s make the customer experience of transit rival that of the interstate highway system: Simple signage, standardized wayfinding, seamless payment, and a streamlined network that gets you from Point A to Point B.

Customer experience is a major factor in consumer decision-making that can rebuild trust in transit.

Customer experience is a major factor in consumer decision-making that can rebuild trust in transit.

In many cities, one of the vexing impediments to a superior customer experience stems from the existence of multiple transit providers. Each agency has developed its own methods of interacting with its customers. From the customer perspective, especially for people who travel beyond the boundaries of an individual agency’s services, the resulting experience can feel disjointed.

Multiple maps and journey planning tools make the customer do all the work to see how transit can get them from point A to point B. Discoordinated schedules lead to long waits for transfers, making a transit trip less desirable. Widely varying design standards for signage and wayfinding increase confusion for the customer, especially in unfamiliar environments. Balkanized fare payment systems require a customer to buy multiple tickets and passes for a single journey. Continues…

Simplify it for Commuters

Asbury Park Press – October 12, 2018

The New York & New Jersey region’s transit systems face major challenges. Here is my vision, based on my experience of having created and chaired the PATH Riders Council for the past four years. Let’s make the customer experience of transit rival that of the interstate highway system: Simple signage, standardized wayfinding, seamless payment, and an integrated network that gets you from Point A to Point B.

Passenger rail lines are the backbone of a vibrant economy. (Video: Danielle Parhizkaran & Mike Pettigano/NorthJersey.com)

Passenger rail lines are the backbone of a vibrant economy. (Video: Danielle Parhizkaran & Mike Pettigano/NorthJersey.com)

In many cities, one of the vexing impediments to a superior customer experience stems from the existence of multiple transit providers. Each agency has developed its own methods of interacting with its customers. From the customer perspective, especially for people who travel beyond the boundaries of an individual agency’s services, the resulting experience can feel disjointed.

Multiple maps and journey planning tools make the customer do all the work to see how transit can get them from point A to point B. Discoordinated schedules lead to long waits for transfers, making a transit trip less desirable. Widely varying design standards for signage and wayfinding increase confusion for the customer, especially in unfamiliar environments. Balkanized fare payment systems require a customer to buy multiple tickets and passes for a single journey. Continues…

Seamless Subway Rides Replace Shuttle Buses During Shutdowns, Thanks to Port Authority and MTA

Mobility Lab – October 2, 2018

Taking cues from feedback in 2016, transit officials on both sides of the Hudson River this year collaborated on a new way of speeding weekend riders on the Port Authority Trans-Hudson (PATH) subway into midtown Manhattan from New Jersey during scheduled service disruptions.

Free MetroCards Streamline the Customer Experience During Weekend Service Changes on PATH (Photo: Stewart Mader)

Instead of busing PATH passengers displaced by weekend signal upgrades on the agency’s midtown Manhattan line, this summer and fall the Port Authority routed riders to downtown Manhattan on PATH’s Newark-World Trade Center line. At the exit gates, each PATH rider was offered an MTA MetroCard valid for two trips on any of the MTA’s subway lines and bus routes, several of which are an easy transfer at PATH’s southern terminus.

This year’s improved customer service program constitutes both an achievement and a model for further collaboration among transit agencies in the New York metro area. Here’s the story of how this latest innovation came together. Continues…

Verkehrsverbund: How Germany Standardizes the Transit Customer Experience

Mobility Lab – September 10, 2018

The customer experience of transit starts before you ever board a bus, train, tram, or ferry. For transit to compete effectively with driving, it needs to be easy for a person to make an informed decision that transit will offer a superior experience.

Berlin Friedrichstraße Station

In many cities, one of the vexing impediments to a superior customer experience stems from the existence of multiple transit providers. Each agency has developed its own methods of interacting with its customers. From the customer perspective, especially for people who travel beyond the boundaries of an individual agency’s services, the resulting experience can feel disjointed.

Multiple maps make the customer do all the work to see how transit can get them from point A to point B. Discoordinated schedules lead to long waits for transfers, making a transit trip less desirable. Widely varying design standards for signage and wayfinding increase confusion for the customer, especially in unfamiliar environments, and can lead to missed connections or travel in the wrong direction. Balkanized fare payment systems require a customer to buy multiple tickets and passes for a single journey. This perfect storm of complexity can push people to opt for the perceived simplicity of a ride-hailing app, or to get behind the wheel and drive themselves. Continues…

RidePATH: Official PATH Train App Gives Customers Real-Time Train Info, Maps, & Alerts

Heading home from work? Heading out for a night on the town? RidePATH, the new, official PATH Train app for iOS & Android offers real-time train status before you enter the station, as well as schedules, maps, and alerts to help you plan your trip on transit.

PATH Riders Council, PATH, and the Port Authority technology team worked closely to ensure that PATH’s official app offers information and tools that help customers have a great experience on PATH. You can use the app to check train schedules by station – even when underground, get line and station-specific PATHAlerts as you approach a station, set your favorite stations so your typical trip schedule is quickly accessible, find the PATH station closest to your current location, and view the PATH service map with regional transit connections.

RidePATH: Official PATH Train app for iOS & Android

Get the app: iOS | Android. Share your ideas using the ‘Feedback’ option in the app, or tweet to me at @StewartMader.

PATH Riders Council: Building a Model for Transit Agency & Customer Collaboration

In 2014, I helped the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey launch a pilot project to improve customer input for PATH, the subway line connecting New York & New Jersey. We established a rider advisory board, the PATH Riders Council (PRC), which works with PATH to ensure riders have a voice in system design, operations decision-making, and customer service communications. After the successful conclusion of the pilot year, PATH agreed to formally recognize PRC as the agency’s rider advisory body. I was elected chair of the body in 2015, and re-elected to a second two-year term in 2017. Among our accomplishments:

Displaying Regional Transit Connections on PATH’s Service Map

Working with PRC, PATH updated the line map displayed in 300+ train cars to show regional transit connections at or near each PATH station. By showing PATH customers their connecting options, this new map helps people travel using all available transit connections, and moves the region closer to the more comprehensive awareness of regional transit that I am advocating for with the New York & New Jersey Subway Map. The updated PATH line map is a tangible improvement that will benefit riders with greater awareness of transit options in the NY & NJ urban core for years to come.

PATH line map with regional transit connections

This photo shows the updated line map in a PATH train car. The map displays regional transit connections at each station.

I shared the updated PATH map at the Port Authority Board of Commissioners public meeting to highlight collaboration between PATH & PRC, and emphasize the value of giving customers comprehensive information about transit.

 

Continues…

Extending PATH: Newark Airport Access, New Neighborhood Connections, & Hudson Transit Resilience

New York has fallen behind its peer cities in a critical area: fast, efficient, and direct rail connections to airports. LaGuardia Airport is served only by bus, and a potential extension of the New York City Subway from nearby Astoria, Queens is still just an idea, despite years of discussion. John F. Kennedy International Airport is served by the Subway and Long Island Railroad, but both services require travelers to connect to the JFK AirTrain at stations several miles away from the airport’s terminals. Stephen Sigmund, executive director of the Global Gateway Alliance, says the prospect of multiple transfers drives people away from taking transit.

In London, the Tube’s Piccadilly Line provides subway service to all terminals at Heathrow Airport, while Heathrow Express and Heathrow Connect provide service via regional rail at varying price points and travel times. London City Airport is served by the Docklands Light Rail, which connects to multiple Tube lines. Both of Chicago’s airports have direct subway access: The Chicago Transit Authority’s Blue Line provides direct service to O’Hare International Airport and the Red Line provides direct service to Midway Airport.

PATH Newark Extension

Extending PATH would improve access to Newark Airport and the city’s South Ward, and improve Hudson transit resilience.

Fortunately, we have a transformational opportunity to dramatically improve airport access, and better connect Newark’s South Ward to transit, by extending PATH, New York’s ‘second subway’, to Newark Liberty International Airport. The Port Authority of New York & New Jersey, which operates PATH, is currently in the advanced planning stages of the PATH Extension Project, and is seeking public input as the project moves forward. Here are three ways it would benefit the region. Continues…

Microtransit: How Private Residential Shuttles Can Become Hyperlocal Public Transit

Access to transit is a major selling point for real estate developments. In Hoboken, New Jersey, a growing number of residential developments offer private shuttle bus service to the city’s major transit hub, Hoboken Terminal. While these shuttles can streamline trips with luggage or strollers, keep people dry during rainstorms, and warm in winter, they also contribute to congestion on Hoboken’s Streets, aren’t open to everyone, and draw people away who might otherwise ride The Hop, Hoboken’s municipal shuttle bus service. NJ.com reported that 2015 expenses for the Hop totaled $332,000, with a fare box recovery of $74,335, or 22%. That’s dismally low for a city in which 57.6% of residents use public transit, the highest percentage in the country.

Hoboken could make the Hop into an indispensable, hyperlocal transit backbone with expanded service, and an iconic fleet.

Hoboken could make the Hop into an indispensable, hyperlocal transit backbone with expanded service, and an iconic fleet.

With such a high rate of public transit use to and from the city, Hoboken has an opportunity to turn The Hop into a case study for microtransit, a new transit service model outlined by the nonprofit transportation policy thinktank Eno Center for Transportation in its study UpRouted: Exploring Microtransit in the United States. Eno studied how cities are adapting hyperlocal transit services that bridge the ‘last-mile’ between traditional, fixed-route rail and bus service, and people’s trip destinations in the age of Uber, Lyft, and other on-demand ridesharing services.

For a mile-square city like Hoboken, reimagined Hop service that is more frequent, reaches the residential developments that currently run private shuttles, and has extended operating hours beyond the current 7AM-8PM service could get real estate developments out of the business of running overlapping, redundant transit services, cut congestion on the city’s streets, and provide significant benefits to both the general public and the residents of these developments. Continues…

Regional Transit Diagram: Good Start, but New York & New Jersey Need a Better Transit User Experience

In 2013, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, New Jersey Transit, and Port Authority of New York & New Jersey released a Regional Transit Diagram–dubbed the first of its kind for the region–to help fans and media visiting for Super Bowl XLVIII in early 2014. The diagram was designed by Yoshiki Waterhouse of Vignelli Associates, in a style reminiscent of the 1972 subway map designed by Massimo Vignelli. It depicts the New York City Subway, Long Island Rail Road, and Metro-North in Manhattan below 96th Street, and PATH, Hudson-Bergen Light Rail, Newark Light Rail, and NJ Transit passenger rail service in Hoboken, Jersey City, Newark, and adjoining areas in New Jersey.

Regional Transit Diagram

Regional Transit Diagram

The Regional Transit Diagram represents the kind of collaboration that’s sorely needed among the key agencies for the nation’s most transit-rich region, but the diagram suffers from some limitations that show us why we need a better transit user experience. Continues…

Hudson Place: A New Public Plaza at Hoboken Terminal

Imagine stepping off your bus, ferry, or train at Hoboken Terminal and onto a new public plaza at Hudson Place. From spring to fall, you can shop at the downtown farmers’ market, and enjoy expanded outdoor seating at adjacent restaurants and bars. A pop-up holiday market brings cheer to the cold winter months. Year-round, Hoboken has a safe, and welcoming civic space at its namesake transit hub.

Hudson Place Pedestrian Plaza

Year-round, Hoboken has a new, safe, and welcoming civic space at its namesake transit hub.

It’s possible, if Hudson Place is closed to traffic between Hudson and River Streets. Creating the Hudson Place public plaza improves safety for the tens of thousands of pedestrians who use mass transit at Hoboken Terminal, and creates a better environment for the local businesses that depend on foot traffic. It improves transit access and traffic flow on the surrounding streets, provides safer space to drop off and pick up transit riders, and increases bicycle and vehicle parking. It is the result of a yearlong study of traffic patterns, pedestrian volumes, sidewalk infrastructure, and development plans for southeast Hoboken. Continues…

Next Page »