TransitCamp: How Do We Leverage Worldwide Transit Knowledge?

Mark Mulholland organized a session on leveraging worldwide knowledge about transit, since there’s more and more groups everywhere who are trying to improve their transit systems. Why not use the wisdom of the crowds to leverage good ideas that have been proven elsewhere to get the most bang for our limited bucks? There are also opportunities to collaborate with other transit-focused groups, as opposed to just picking up their ideas, to develop new ideas together and potentially create open source solutions that can be shared.

Ideas for fostering collaboration and idea exchange with other transit advocates from around the circle:

  • Exchange programs for staff in transit organizations (opposition to this idea: "I don’t want to pay for politicians to travel around on my tax dollars"). The current problem is that it’s mostly politicians who are doing the travelling to look at other transit systems, not the staff at the transit systems who can actually implement the solutions. An interesting discussion of Metrolinx’s recent trip to the UK and Madrid, including a link to their report, is here.
  • Important to look at the context: what works in one country won’t work in another because of political and economic conditions.
  • Ability to share stories from transit experiences around the world, both from the point of view of visitors and residents.
  • Need to find transit expertise worldwide and incorporate that into our local projects.
  • Look at our needs, and find places in the world that have had to address those same needs. In other words, work from the needs rather than a presupposed solution.
  • Leverage local bi-national chambers of commerce (e.g., Indo-Canadian, Australian-Canadian) to find similar groups in other countries.
  • Add links to other TransitCamps and transit-related groups to this wiki to make it easy to find other like-minded groups.
  • There need to be links from the community back into the transit organizations to ensure that the ideas generated are considered for use. In general, how do we cross-pollinate between the community and the transit organizations?
  • We need to consider ideas from other transit systems about customer service standards, and understand the customer service problems that we have now with our local transit systems.
  • Public online forum for collaboration and capturing information (such as this TransitCamp wiki, Vancouver’s TransitCamp which is supposed to be here but isn’t, and San Francisco’s TransitCamp links), and for publishing research and findings from transit authorities such as Metrolinx. For example, transit geeks in San Francisco are using Get Satisfaction as a forum for discussions about transit in a very user-friendly question-and-answer format rather than a more free-form (and sometimes more intimidating) wiki format.

The wiki page for this session, which includes these notes of mine plus other attendees’ contributions, is here.

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