Why do transit-infrastructure projects in New York cost 20 times more on a per kilometer basis than in Seoul? We investigate this question across hundreds of transit projects from around the world. We have created a database that spans more than 50 countries and totals more than 11,000 km of urban rail built since the late 1990s. We will also examine this question in greater detail by carrying out six in-depth case studies that take a closer look at unique considerations and variables that aren’t easily quantified, like project management, governance, and site conditions.

The goal of this work is to figure out how to deliver more high-capacity transit projects for a fraction of the cost in countries like the United States. Additionally, we hope that our site will be a useful resource for elected officials, planners, researchers, journalists, advocates, and others interested in contextualizing transit-infrastructure costs and fighting for better projects.

If you have ideas and evidence about why transit costs vary so greatly from one country to the next or you just want to connect with us, please get in touch at info[at]transitcosts.com or click on the “Contact Us” tab. We are trying our best to get things right, but we don’t know everything and we will invariably make mistakes. Correct us and expand our understanding of transit-infrastructure planning, construction, and financing. We are always looking for new projects, data, corrections, resources, and feedback. 

We are a group of researchers under the umbrella of the NYU Marron Institute of Urban Management, but our team is spread across the globe. Our research is supported by Arnold Ventures and others.

Team

Eric Goldwyn
Eric GoldwynResearch Scholar
Eric is a Research Scholar in the Director’s Office at the Marron Institute. He received his Ph.D. in Urban Planning from Columbia University. He teaches courses on urban planning and urban studies and his writing on cities and transportation technology has been published in academic journals and popular press outlets. Before starting this project, Eric and Alon worked together on a proposal to redesign Brooklyn’s Bus Network.
Alon Levy
Alon LevyResearch Scholar
Alon Levy grew up in Tel Aviv and Singapore and has lived in the French Riviera, New York, Providence, Vancouver, and Stockholm, and is currently based in Berlin. While earning a Ph.D. in math at Columbia, Alon picked up an interest in public transportation networks, starting from the New York City Subway, and has been investigating how to apply best industry practices from a variety of cities around the world. Alon’s perspective is comparative, with interests including network design, integrated planning of transportation and development, and cost control.
Elif Ensari
Elif EnsariResearch Scholar
Elif was trained as an architect specializing in architectural design computing. She holds a master’s degree from Southern California Institute of Architecture (SciARC) and a dual Ph.D. degree from Istanbul Technical University and University of Lisbon. Her research utilizes urban analytics to support design and planning for sustainable mobility. She has taught at Istanbul Bilgi, Kadir Has and Izmir Economy Universities. Prior to joining the Marron Institute at NYU, she provided design computing, spatial analysis and visualization services as part of research collaborative Bits’n Bricks in Istanbul.
Marco Chitti
Marco ChittiPostdoctoral Fellow
Marco graduated in architecture in 2008 at the University of Ferrara with a thesis about urban transformations and planning in the old city of Delhi, India. Between 2008 and 2014, he practised as an architect and a planner in Italy and as foreign expert in a technical assistance project in Palestine for the Italian Cooperation Agency. He is currently a PhD candidate in urban planning at the University of Montréal, a former Vanier scholar and a lecturer at the École d’urbanisme et d’architecture de paysage.
Abdirashid Dahir
Abdirashid DahirResearch Assistant
Dahir works on sustainable transport projects in Seoul, South Korea. He holds BSc in Civil Engineering, and MSc in Transportation Engineering from the University of Seoul. He has completed Master’s Thesis funded by the National Institute of International Education Development (NIIED) as part of prestigious Global Korea Scholarship (GKS).
Rachel Daniell
Rachel DaniellResearch Assistant
Rachel works as a research assistant with the Transit Costs Project, as well as with human rights organizations in the nonprofit sector and additional university-based research projects. She recently earned her PhD in Anthropology from The Graduate Center, City University of New York, and also holds a Master’s degree in Data Analytics and Visualization from Pratt Institute with an Advanced Certificate in Spatial Analysis and Design. She is interested in ways that information structures, data analysis, and data visualization can be leveraged to address social problems.
Yinan Yao
Yinan YaoResearch Assistant
Yinan was born and raised in mainland China, a country which has witnessed vast, ongoing urban rail construction in the past few decades. She works as a research assistant for the Transit Costs Project, collecting and visualizing data from China. Yinan graduated from China Foreign Affairs University with a LL.B., and earned her MPA in Public Policy Analysis from New York University.
Anan Maalouf
Anan MaaloufResearch Assistant
Anan A. Maalouf is an Urban Planner and a Ph.D. student of Urban and Public Policy at Milano School of Policy, Management, and Environment (The New School). He earned his M.Sc. of Urban and Regional Planning from the Technion IIT (2018), his thesis focused on the relationship between urban forms and technological alterations. Before moving to New York, Maalouf served as Nazareth Mayor’s Assistant (2012-2013), and as MP Ayman Odeh Chief of Staff and Senior Advisor (2015-2018). Anan works currently at The Arab Center for Alternative Planning (ACAP) and is a teaching assistant of GIS at The New School and Introduction to Urban Studies at Barnard College.