The Institute for Rational Urban Mobility, Inc (IRUM) was incorporated as a not-for-profit corporation in New York State in February 1997 and received 501(c)(3) status from the IRS in May 1997. IRUM is governed by a six-member Board of Directors.IRUM was formed to study and promote the enhanced livability and increased economic competitiveness of New York City and other dense urban areas through a program of innovative transport reforms. IRUM’s goals are articulated in its Livable City Transport Plan, which contains 15 interrelated near-term strategies for improving public transport, reducing car use and enhancing the walking environment in New York City. This plan has been updated periodically, and underlies the many formal statements made by IRUM at public meetings about transportation plans and projects.Upon its formation IRUM assumed responsibility for Auto-Free New York (AFNY), a committee formed by Transportation Alternatives in 1989. AFNY has met regularly on a monthly basis since its establishment.
IRUM also hosts a Regional Rail Working Group (RRWG) of 50 to 60 transit advocates from the New York-New Jersey-Connecticut metropolitan area. This group, formed in 2001, brings together representatives of major transit users organizations at a regular monthly meeting. A key product has been its consensus-based Penn Station Metro-Hub plan which calls for increased service in the near term through better collaboration among the region’s rail carriers that converge at Penn Station. The plan calls for much more frequent service, fully integrated fares and through-running at Penn Station to optimize the utility of existing rail operations.
In the Fall of 2008, the Municipal Art Society invited IRUM to prepare an exhibit “Making the Connection” which described both near term and longer term strategies for making better use of the region’s commuter rail lines, together with Amtrak. The exhibition was shown at MAS’ Urban Center for several months and then was shown at the NJ Performing Arts Center in Newark, NJ, in the lobby of the Conde Nast Building at Four Times Square and finally at the Stamford, CT Government Center. The “Making the Connection” plan is the central focus of IRUM’s continuing strategy to advocate for modest, cost-effective investments in the region’s rail infrastructure that make full use of existing tunnels and terminals. In 2006 IRUM, working closely with Canadian and British engineering firms, developed a detailed plan for using existing tracks and platforms on the Upper Level at Grand Central Terminal for LIRR East Side Access, instead of the costly and disruptive deep cavern plan being pursued by MTA.
Since July 1999, IRUM has hosted vision42, a citizens’ initiative for an auto-free light rail boulevard on 42nd Street. This effort has included the preparation and distribution of leaflets and brochures describing the proposal and the creation of a slide show presentation that makes the case for this city-enhancing proposal. Over 390 presentations have been made to civic and business organizations and elected officials. A distinguished group of 40 respected professionals form the project’s Advisory Committee and some twenty-five talented volunteers have participated in the project’s working group.
In 2004 IRUM received a substantial grant from the New York Community Trust, which has enabled it to retain three highly-regarded independent consulting firms to analyze three key aspects of vision42: (1) economic impacts, (2) capital and operating costs, and (3) traffic consequences. These studies have been completed and are posted on the vision42 website. Additional funding has been received to expand the scope of these studies. More recently IRUM received an additional grant to sponsor an international design competition to increase interest in the vision42 proposal.
IRUM also received a grant in 2009 from the Nurture Nature Foundation to conduct a research study of Free Public Transit in NYC, paid for by very high cordon tolls on the approaches to the Manhattan Central Business District.
IRUM is an all volunteer organization. Almost all of the technical work done by IRUM is through well-qualified consulting firms. The IRUM Board oversees the technical and administrative work on a pro bono basis.
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