In March 1958, a small group of transportation researchers held a farewell luncheon for colleague Sir Alan A. Walters, a native of England who had been on an assignment for the United Nations in New York. More than 100 people turned out to hear Sir Alan speak on “Why Transportation Researchers Need a Forum to Discuss Their Work.” The success prompted railroad economist Herbert O. Whitten to ask if there was interest in future meetings to allow others to speak on transportation topics. Thus was born the Transportation Research Forum of New York, with Whitten serving as its first president. At that time, most of the major railroads were headquartered in New York City and their economists were frustrated by the narrow focus of professional associations which virtually ignored the unique nature of railroad costing and economics.

In December 1960, the first organized meeting of the American Transportation Research Forum was held in St. Louis, MO, sponsored by TRF-NY, which became the founding chapter. Other chapters followed in Washington, DC, Cleveland (Lake Erie), and Chicago. Additional chapters were organized in Philadelphia, New England, Northern California, and the Pacific Northwest. With the expansion of the organization into Canada, the name was shortened to the Transportation Research Forum.

NY Chapter luncheon meetings are still regularly held. These feature speakers from government, industry, and academia, discussing projects, policies and issues related to freight and passenger transportation.


Chapter Leadership

Contact: Paul Gessner –

Position Name Affiliation
President David A. Boate Gannett Fleming
Executive Vice President Peter D. Cohen Rail Consultant
Vice President – Programs Ani S. Toncheva Wilson Ihrig
Vice President – Membership John D. Dean Metropolitan Transportation Authority
Secretary/Treasurer Paul K. Gessner Gessner Transportation Consulting LLC

Council Members-at-Large

George M. Bulow, Interactive international
Allison L. C. deCerreno, Port Authority of NY & NJ
Walter R. Ernst, AECOM
William A. Fife, The Fife Group
Mayer Horn, Professional Engineer
Kelvin L. MacKavanagh, Railroad Consulting
Scott I. Ornstein, MTA Metro North Railroad
Charles Samul, NY & Atlantic Railway
David M. Weiss, Arup

Next Meeting…

Date: May 12, 2017
Topic: “Contested at the Curb”
Speakers: Max Miller, CHS Consulting Group
View Meeting Info.