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 three-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. IRUMís 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, and celebrated its 15th Anniversary in February 2004. Each monthly meeting features a well-respected speaker who is concerned with reducing car use in NYC. Over 150 meetings have been held to date, and some 20 to 30 persons attend each meeting. A mailing list of over 400 has been compiled from these meetings.
IRUM also hosts a Regional Rail Working Group (RRWG) of 50 to 60 transit experts from the New York-New Jersey-Connecticut metropolitan area. This group, formed in 2001, brings together representatives of three 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 through better collaboration among the region's rail carriers that converge at Penn Station. RRWG sponsored a day-long workshop on regional rail at the Municipal Art Society on June 28, 2005. The unit maintains its own website www.rrwg.org.
Since July 1999, IRUM has hosted vision42, a citizensí 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. Nearly 200 presentations have been made to civic and business organizations and elected officials. A distinguished group of 28 respected professionals form the projectís Advisory Committee and some twenty-five talented volunteers have participated in the projectís 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. A comprehensive outreach and media effort, also funded through the New York Community Trust, has produced favorable results. A community forum sponsored by the Manhattan Borough President and three midtown community boards on April 18, 2005 drew over 200 participants. A second grant received on January 2006 is funding a study of economic impacts on grand floor retail businesses fronting on 42nd Street and on hotels and theatres in a broader corridor.
IRUM expects to continue and expand these initiatives in the coming years.
George Haikalis, President, Institute for Rational Urban Mobility, Inc.