Hunter Public Service Scholar presents report on subway stations in NYC’s Chinese communities


At the May NYCTRC meeting the members recognized Shanni Liang, a New York City Hunter College Public Service Scholar, who just completed an academic year internship with PCAC.  The Hunter Public Service Scholar Program (PSSP) offers undergraduates substantive internships in the public and non-profit sectors focusing on advocacy and outreach.   In this highly competitive program selected scholars devote 20 hours per week for nine months in their placements. The Public Service Scholar Program seeks to improve cities and the lives of people by preparing talented undergraduates for careers in the public and non-profit sectors. The program seeks to raise the representation of women, minority-group members and new immigrants in leadership positions.

Ms. Liang’s major project during her time at PCAC was an indepth study of subway stations in the Chinese communities of New York City.  She surveyed 20 stations in highly concentrated Chinese neighborhoods in Queens, Brooklyn and the historic Manhattan Chinatown.  She looked at station signage translations into Chinese, as well as station conditions and the neighborhood environment.  She interviewed public officials, community board directors, community groups and NYCT personnel.

Ms. Liang discovered that finding translated signage into Chinese was rare and when it was found, it was often mistranslated. Compounding the language barrier are cultural differences: Chinese riders rarely use the ticket machines; they prefer going to the ticket booth.   But, the lack of booth agents or agents that grow impatient with non-English speaking Chinese residents complicate the use of transit for Chinese riders.  Perhaps more disturbing is that NYCT Government & Community Relations personnel rely mostly on community boards for information and community outreach.  However, Ms. Liang found that many community boards are disconnected from the Chinese community they are serving.

Ms. Liang offers several recommendations in her report.  Some key requests are for better and more translated materials in Chinese to increase equal access of information; implementation of an Adopt-A-Station program that gets the community involved in keeping their subway station clean and safe; subway and bus forums in which Chinese riders can participate with the help of a translator; and workshops that teach Chinese, especially seniors, how to use the subway systsem.  For her full report click here.

Ms Liang graduates from Hunter College in New York City on May 29th and plans to pursue a graduate degree in the future.

Photo above (L-R): Bill Henderson (PCAC Executive Director), Angela Bellisio (Outreach Assistant) , Karyl Cafiero (Research Associate), Shanni Liang, Ellyn Shannon (Senior Transportation Planner), Jan Wells (Associate Director) and Andrew Albert (NYCTRC Chair).