Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Transit (System Map Mix)

A transit system map should be so strikingly familiar to anyone, that their gut-level response to it would be "I could use that system!" This is not the case with our current transit systems.

What would an optimum transit map for an area look like? — Can a new system map be designed from scratch? — Would any local agency propose, or any grantor fund, such a wholesale remix of an operating transit system? — Even if funds were available from somewhere, would anyone do it? — Can transit systems be based on "regional", town, and community centers?

If there is such a long ranging plan somewhere, Show me the Blueprints!

Planning a complete new system doesn't imply that you have to implement it all at once. Once we knew what an optimal system looked like, we could roll it out over time. Changes made would be toward the overall plan, not ad hoc adjustments.

In Portland, TriMet just changed the whole Transit Mall alignment last month, affecting most every route, without screwing up. They'll change it all back again in less than two years. I know transit riders are intelligent enough and patient enough to weather a well-thought-out change for a well-defined result.

Note that I didn't say that the construction project wasn't disruptive, or that the Portland Mall project was the optimal thing to do! (I won't say it wasn't either.) Let's think outside the Mall, way outside.

This is just a short description of an large problem. We'll look at Curitiba, Brazil and how that system differs from a web of transportation, and I'll lay out more about the public, planner, and computer interactions that might produce an "optimal" system map in future transit remixes.