A couple of weeks ago I mentioned slipping on the ice and wrecking my clutch operating leg. As a result I was unable to drive and started using public transportation, which turned out to be easy and fun, mostly.
Then there was the day I went to the wrong stop one block south of where I was supposed to be, missed my connection and had to wait an extra hour for the next bus to come along. That was my mistake – a consequence of thinking I knew the system when, in fact, I didn’t.
Creating a logical and memorable network is one of the challenges transit planners face. Things that are easy to use get used more often. It becomes complicated when there are jumble of options for riders to de-code – regular busses, express busses, light rail and BRT, (Bus Rapid Transit), in which busses mimic the feel of rail and operate on a completely separate or somewhat exclusive right-of-way.
LRT and BRT are being developed as a system within the system, offering “enhanced” service along “transitways” that are clearly defined. The Hiawatha Avenue light rail line is fairly obvious, and completely tearing up and rebuilding University Avenue over the next few years for the Central Corridor LRT will make the path of that line indelible.
The zoomy looking transit station plopped down in the middle of I-35W at 46th Street in South Minneapolis is a new landmark. When I first saw it, I knew I wanted to go someplace from there. The problem was – where?
Back when there were no roads to speak of, people got around on the rivers, literally paddling their own canoes. That’s why I was tickled to see this – a cartographer named Daniel Huffman who teaches at UW-Madison re-drew the Mississippi River basin as a transit map.
It’s a fun piece of artwork that gets me thinking about the river in a different way, but I’m guessing the Native Americans who used the rivers as transit corridors before the Europeans showed up didn’t need this kind of help to get around. The Mississippi, Ohio and Missouri were perfectly legible without “branding”.
But the new system could use marketing help, and the Metro Council is asking for some. Here’s an excerpt from a press release that invites naming suggestions for the developing LRT/BRT component of the Twin Cities public transit network:
“We’re anxious to see what creative ideas the public has for this exciting new element of our transit system,” said Arlene McCarthy, director of Metropolitan Transportation Services for the Council. We’ll be looking for name ideas that identify this service as a distinct part of our system, while incorporating aspects of the character of the Twin Cities region.”
Intriguing challenge, but how do you collapse all of that into a couple of memorable, useful, descriptive words? What is the character of the Twin Cities region? Yow.
If you have ideas, you can send them one of these ways:
By mail to the Regional Data Center at 390 Robert St. N., St. Paul, MN 55101
By e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
Record your idea at 651-602-1500 (TTY 651-291-0904)
By Fax 651-602-1464
Or just use the online form.
Again, we see the tricky problem of navigating multiple modes of transport. In this case, which path to choose for conveying your brilliant ideas?
Are you good at naming things?