Savant of the Subways
A quirky MTA analyst—and walking New York City transit encyclopedia—explains why his beloved trains and busses run much better than you think.
Illustrations by Paul Hornschemeier
When Erik Seims is at a party and people ask him what he does for a living, he sometimes hesitates in giving an answer.
“The second I tell someone I work for the MTA, I immediately have to hear every horror story they have ever experienced and every bus that didn't show up when it was supposed to,” says the forty-one-year-old staff analyst. “It’s like, ‘Oh God, here it comes.’”
After spending fourteen years at the Department of City Planning in New York, Seims has been with the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s Office of Management and Budget for the past six months. But Seims’s (pronounced SIGH-hems) path to MTA employment was rather unconventional. In transportation parlance, one might even say his career was rerouted by a temporary service alert.
It all started when Seims was four years old. A young boy growing up in Brooklyn, with a keen mind for maps and patterns, he took joy in riding the subway. Since then, he has traveled on every segment …