Yesterday I attended a creative design workshop with Siobhan Gregory and WSU transportation design and urban planning students. They shared eye-opening ideas, that made me see that transportation systems can be designed to combine beauty with functionality. I loved that their plans encouraged enjoyment of travel. Several had lived in or visited countries with advanced transit systems and shared that experience in their designs. Sadly, design cannot make up for poor administration in creating a bus system of the future that is comfortable, safe and reliable.
I saw that transportation does not have to be 20 frustrated people standing in rain, snow, or scorching heat, guessing at when a bus will come. Uncertain of reaching a transfer point in time. Needing to catch that next bus to be at school, at work, at appointments on time. It does have to be administered by people who care about the customers they are paid to serve
Shelters lit by solar panels, with seating, with interactive schedules, electronic updates, portable lavatory facilities, and a sleek, stream-lined coach with a coffee bar….. I loved the concepts, but having, on my way to the meeting, been passed by a Woodward bus then faced with a 20 minute wait for the next over-full coach, I would have settled for a lot less. I would have settled for buses large enough to accommodate the number of passengers.Then, I guess, having missed my stop because I had no idea where Putnam street was, I would love a bus, with audible GPS to let the driver and me know when we got to my destination.
Electronic touch-screen schedules would be nice, but I would settle for maps of bus routes at each stop. Wi-Fi on buses and at stops would be great, but Text-My-Bus short codes, for buses at that stop would suffice.
The shelter designs, seating from 3 to 6 people with more standing room, lighted and in some cases heated-nice for places where only a few people wait a short time for a bus. I loved one, a kind of gazebo, plants growing over for shade, but on Woodward, where 20 people often wait for a bus. I would like roofed, open shelters, for the number of people catching the bus and waste receptacles…. definately.
The future of transportation looks bright and beautiful. I hope I live long enough to see that future come to Detroit