Notes and Notices

On art, architecture and design

3/27/2012

LA's biggest pet peeve: bus rides

Posted by Carren Jao Pineda |

I thought I was the only one, but it turns out, everyone wants a better bus ride. Last weekend, I attended a smart cities incubator produced by City Works Campaign and USC's Annenberg Innovation Lab. There were about thirty people from all parts of Los Angeles and, miraculously, everyone chose transit as the major issue to work on.

It wasn't a matter of groupthink, but a matter of shared experience. Los Angeles has the second largest fleet in the nation and boasts the second highest ridership behind New York, but it's hard to feel that everything is going smoothly. We've all waited forever for a bus to come, or even just wondered if we're on the right bus stop. At the incubator, it seemed we all wanted to finally do something about it.

A bus stop in the middle of nowhere on the outer wave breaker in Halmstad. (Olga Caprotti/Flickr)
There were a number of fun ideas presented: skillsharing while riding the bus (imagine practicing your French while on the bus!), a Siri for bus stops (know what's the coolest community hotspot nearby and when your next bus is going to come), an app to organize events and meetups at bus stops. But the clear winner was an adopt-a-bus-stop program.

Instead of waiting for government offices to design a better bus stop, what if there were a way that communities could step up and take responsibility for their neighborhood. Following the logic of the "broken window", if neighborhoods took pride in their bus stops--creating events, re-casting the bus stop as a community resource--then the seemingly infinite wait at the bus stop wouldn't be so painful. In the next few months, the incubator will announce another event that aims to build a viable business model for this proposal. I'm looking forward to seeing how this pipe dream acquires its legs.

What do you think would make a better bus ride?

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