Sam Schwartz has been working on transportation issues in the city ever since the Lindsay Administration. (And even before that, as a New York City cab driver.) In early March, Schwartz, a traffic engineer and former New York City Department of Transportation traffic commissioner, released his most unconventional idea yet, a blueprint of sorts for the future of New York City’s transportation infrastructure. He called his plan the “More Equitable Transportation Formula for NY Metro Area.”
In his presentation, Schwartz will discuss his proposed plan “fair pricing,” which adds tolls to the East River bridges (which are currently free) while also lowering the tolls on the bridges that do not enter Manhattan, such as the Throgs Neck and the Verrazano-Narrows. The goal is to discourage people from driving into “the central business district,” a.k.a. Manhattan.
Mr. Schwartz is President and CEO of Sam Schwartz Engineering (SSE), a firm that specializes in transportation planning and engineering. He also writes a column on traffic for The New York Daily News, has a column in Transportation Technology International and blogs for Engineering News Record and the Public Broadcasting System (PBS).
Previously Mr. Schwartz was New York City’s Traffic Commissioner and was the Chief Engineer of the NYC Department of Transportation. He started his transportation career in the late 1960’s as a NYC cabbie and joined the Traffic Department, as a junior engineer, in 1971.
Mr. Schwartz specializes in creative problem-solving for seemingly intractable situations. He is expert at getting people out of their cars and into other forms of transportation. He is also proficient at moving those people who remain in their cars more swiftly and safely. Mr. Schwartz has created many win-win-win situations whereby traffic moves better, pedestrians are safer and the community gains more sidewalk and green space. He’s been called an Urban Alchemist for making grass grow from asphalt.
He has been an adjunct professor at Cooper Union, Long Island University and Brooklyn College. He has authored more than 200 professional papers and presentations and has written several books and chapters in books. He has received more than a score of awards for his work, including 2012 American Society of Civil Engineers, Innovation in Sustainable Civil Engineering Award, 2012 Businessman of the Year from the Manhattan Chamber of Commerce, 2011 New York State Society of Professional Engineer of the Year award, 2011 Brooklyn College Alumnus of the Year, 2010 NSPE Professional Engineers Merit Award, Public Works Magazine's 2008 Trendsetter Award and Civil Engineer of the Year from the American Society of Civil Engineers, the Institute of Transportation Engineers and the American Council of Engineering Companies.
Mr. Schwartz received his Bachelor of Science degree in Physics at Brooklyn College and a Master of Science degree in Civil Engineering at the University of Pennsylvania. He is a licensed Professional Engineer in New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Connecticut and Florida.