After the morning session at Transportation Camp West, and a well-earned burrito from Tonayense (requiring a 10 minute wait in some very cold rain), I headed off to a session called “Sexy Transit”, with more than a few others. In fact, it was standing room only in the little gallery space!

You can spot me in the back there in a striped jersey in this picture from Richard Masoner aka Cycleliciousphotostream above. It was a great discussion veering from “what is sexy?” to why we need to make public transit sexy! Reps from local municipal transit agencies shared their input – as a new Californian and new to the West coast in general – I was happy to learn. Apparently Santa Cruz has a fun double-decker bus and AC Transit got some “sexy” new vehicles sourced from Europe (and face the wrath of Made in Americanists … )

I think these are the buses he meant, from Flickr user longa1020

For some, “sexy” means “empowerment and mobility”, which extends from less humiliating ways to board a bus on a wheelchair to cleaner, sleeker looking vehicles that have a modern image. I made an offhand comment on bus crowding (especially in downtown areas), that make it next to impossible to consider using the luxury of possible wi-fi, let alone get on with small children. After the session, several people approached me to mention that was a big concern of theirs, to! Who wants to go on public transit if it’s always an armpit-to-armpit battle of bags, butts, and bodies, anyway?

Other key points I jotted down from the session:

  • Arguments based on cost-efficiency and environmentalism aren’t sexy
  • Signage, icons, and maps should be simpler and more “sexy”. Think about the iconic look (and easy to remember station names) in the DC Metro and London underground
  • Market public transit in new and better ways. Utilize student designers for projects. Transit can be “hidden” so make it visible to motorists on a bridge or highway with an underground train line! “You could be at your destination right now, on the train speeding along unbeknownst to you….right underneath!”
  • There are so many transit agencies in the Bay Area – what about a unifying logo like “T” or a train icon, so tourists and commuters could know there’s a station nearby when in a neighboring city
  • Take PRIDE in your public transit system – this means having attractive bus stops and subway stations (with public art, etc.) 
  • Lots of people in the group had interest in continuing the discussion!

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