An Einstein for the Subways? A Lawyer Suggests a ‘Genius’ Fix

School of Law alum Craig Avedisian featured in the New York Times.

New York MTAIt has been about a month since Craig Avedisian (’93) was declared an almost-genius, a finalist in a “genius challenge” contest with a $1 million prize. Whatever else is going on in the right and left hemispheres of his brain, the designation has not sunk in yet, he said.

“Here’s a guy, a solo lawyer, who thought he had an idea, and I got this far,” he said. “It was David versus Goliath, and David got heard. That’s the essence of it.”

Mr. Avedisian, 54, is not one of those a disheveled-looking Nobel Prize types who has tramped around an Ivy League campus the way Albert Einstein or John F. Nash Jr., of “A Beautiful Mind,” did. He is tallish and looks trim in a dark suit, a crisp white shirt and a carefully knotted tie. A commercial litigator, he lives on the Upper East Side of Manhattan.

Unlike Beethoven, he does not complain of a “wretched existence.” Nor does he have Beethoven’s maladies — no abdominal pain, digestive trouble, chronic bronchitis, repulsive body odors or bad breath. And of course Beethoven had the hearing problem.

Mr. Avedisian’s hearing is fine.

Join BU Law's alumni mailing listOther measures of exceptionalness? He said he did not know his I.Q. He said he had a B average in law school.

But then, he is only an almost-genius. For now. Maybe he will win the contest and become a full-fledged genius.

He reached his current status because of an idea he submitted when the Metropolitan Transportation Authority announced the “genius challenge” last summer, a few days after Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo declared a state of emergency for the city’s failing subway system. By the agency’s count, Mr. Avedisian’s was one of 438 entries from 23 countries.

The “genius challenge” has 11 judges, including Joseph J. Lhota, the chairman of the transit authority, and Patrick J. Foye, the president. But like the No. 2 train on a bad morning, the “genius challenge” is behind schedule. The authority said when it announced the contest that it would name the finalists last October and the winners by the end of 2017.

It took until last month to narrow the field and release the names of 19 finalists in three categories. Most of the finalists were large companies like Alstom, a manufacturer of the R160 subway cars that passengers have been riding since 2006.

Mr. Avedisian and Robert James were the only individuals among the finalists, and the authority has not said when it will name the winners. The authority said Mr. James’s idea involved combining two technologies to keep tabs on where trains are. This would help control things up and down subway lines.

As for Mr. Avedisian, he said his idea could expand capacity on subway trains by 40 percent on average and by 65 percent on some trains. He called it “simple” and “user-friendly.”

Read the full story.

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