By Lenis Rodrigues, Media Relations Staff, PANY/NJ
Transportation wasn’t a career path that Jeffrey Brauner originally considered. He thought of becoming an architect, or maybe a teacher. It wasn’t until he attended graduate school that he realized working in the transportation industry would become his professional passion.
For the past three years with the Port Authority’s Port Department, Brauner has thrown himself into his career, helping to improve the ways in which goods are moved and tracked across New York Harbor. For those efforts, he was recognized as one of Progressive Railroading Magazine’s “20 Rising Stars” in the railroad industry, and will be profiled in the magazine’s September issue.
The honorees are chosen for their contributions to the railroad industry, career achievements, demonstrated leadership, professional association activity or community involvement. Brauner said he had no idea he was nominated for the award, but upon hearing it, it brought back memories of the 2017 selection of his friend and colleague, Winnie Chang at PATH, for the same honor.
“It’s a great feeling and shows the opportunities that the Port Authority provide to young professionals like me and Winnie,” Brauner said. “We get to work on important projects and initiatives, and are given an opportunity to make a difference, which is what attracted me to the job.”
A principal transportation planner in the Port Department, Brauner was cited by the magazine for developing a comprehensive operations database that tracks the New York and New Jersey Railroad Marine Division, to better analyze the performance of the last remaining carfloat service across the harbor. The database also enables the Port Department to track tugboat and railcar moves, as well as monitor other factors, such as the weather.
Brauner conducts operational and financial analysis on the short line railroad that moves rail cars from Greenville Yard in Jersey City to Brooklyn. One main benefit of his work is contributing to lower port-generated emissions by reducing the region’s long-term reliance on trucking as the primary freight transportation mode.
After finishing his graduate school studies in public affairs and policy from the State University of New York at Albany, Brauner served as a legislative intern for BlueGreen Alliance, the Washington, D.C.-based environmental group, where he studied federal transportation policy. He then landed a summer internship with the Port Authority at John F. Kennedy International Airport, working in Airport Operations, and returned to the agency as a Leadership Fellow the following year.
Patrick Thrasher, Brauner’s supervisor said, “Jeffrey’s dedication to his work and his colleagues has enabled the Port’s rail group to perform at the highest level. He works effortlessly across departments and is a great asset to the team and department.”
Brauner didn’t have his mind set on working on rail or port projects when he started at the Port Authority, but developed a strong interest in the Port Department, sought an assignment and has been there ever since. As part of his job, he’s worked closely with the Law, Finance and Engineering departments, as well as New York New Jersey Rail staff and crew, to keep initiatives and projects moving in the right direction.
With his Port Authority career occupying much of his time, Brauner has had less time for one of the other passions in life – playing the trumpet in a college band.
“I certainly miss performing on stage, as there is truly nothing that can compare to the feeling of performing in front of a crowd. The closest I get to that today is karaoke,” he said. “I still practice on my own for fun, and go see my friends’ bands perform whenever they are in the city. In my mind, I will always be a musician so long as I keep practicing.”