New York, New York / Tuesday Nov 19,2019
6:00 pm - 7:00 pm

What is the cost of building a subway?

Silver Center for Arts & Science (SILV), 100 Washington Square East, Room 206, New York, NY 10003

This decade, New York has opened two subway extensions at costs of around $1.3 billion and $1.6 billion per kilometer. During the same period, a number of cities around the world have built subways for less than $100 million per kilometer. Is New York typical, or is it a big outlier? And what can be done to build more affordable infrastructure in the city?

This talk will present a database of urban rail lines and their costs in more than 40 countries. New York is by far the most expensive to build in globally, and other English-speaking cities are, by rest-of-world standards, quite expensive too; the global median is roughly $220 million per kilometer. With enough quantitative information, it is possible to draw preliminary conclusions about the nature of the problem of high construction costs. While the data is suggestive, it is not yet comprehensive, and further research is required to figure out how to fix the problem.


Alon Levy
Fellow / Transportation and Land Use

Alon Levy is a Fellow in the Transportation and Land Use program of the NYU Marron Institute. Alon's work focuses on public transportation and how to apply best practices from cities around the world. 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.