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Albany Reform

Cuomo’s Office Opens Up Transpo Data, But Not Crash Locations

On Wednesday, Governor Cuomo announced a new raft of publicly-accessible data on the state's data transparency website, data.NY.gov. Some of the data sets include information that was already accessible in different forms, while other sets are newly available to the public. The release also includes detailed information about individual crashes from the Department of Motor Vehicles, but it falls short by failing to say where crashes occur.

Good news: Detailed DMV crash data is more easily accessible. Bad news: We don't know where those crashes occurred. Image: ##https://data.ny.gov/##Open NY##

In addition to the DMV, the data comes from the MTA, Port Authority, state DOT, and Thruway Authority. Among other things, the data sets include: PATH and ferry ridership; MTA and Thruway Authority capital projects and bids; freight and passenger counts at Port Authority facilities; vehicle registrations; estimates of vehicle miles traveled; subway entrance and exit locations; incident, construction, and event information reported to 511 by agencies; and traffic counts on state roads, MTA and Port Authority crossings.

The new data release was welcomed by good government advocates, who noted that there's still much more to be done to make information accessible not only to the public, but also to lawmakers and even other agencies. "For years, the public has had to pry basic data out of transportation agencies," said John Kaehny of Reinvent Albany and the NYC Transparency Working Group. "Liberating this data is part of improving transportation decision-making by giving everyone better access to basic information."

One data set of interest provides monthly eastbound auto, bus, and truck volumes at Port Authority crossings since 2011. The website also includes the number of motor vehicle crashes at Port Authority facilities each year since 2000, but does not provide information about those crashes other than whether they caused fatalities.

Motor vehicle crash information from 2011 reported by the DMV provides much more detail, including information about victims -- age, gender, type and severity of injury, and whether they were transported to a hospital. It also features information on the day of the week, type of vehicle, contributing factors, weather, lighting, and road surface conditions. Pedestrian or cyclist involvement is also noted.

But when it comes to locating these crashes, the DMV data only provides the municipality and does not allow users to locate crashes at specific coordinates, or even an address or cross-street. Streetsblog has asked the Cuomo administration why the location information is so limited, and if data from years other than 2011 will be uploaded. We'll let you know if we get a response.

There was also a step forward for open data this week on the city level: after inquiries and pressure from advocates, the Department of City Planning is no longer charging licensing fees for access to MapPLUTO, its extensive set of tax parcel data. While not explicitly transportation-related, PLUTO is an enormous resource for information about zoning and land use.

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