Transit Interpretation Project (TrIP) Day 4 blog post is by Orlando artist and programmer Nathan Selikoff.
I rode the bus twice last month.
The first time, I was an “accidental tourist.” I was returning back home from a week in New York City, and my middle-of-the-day flight meant that none of my friends were available to come pick me up from the airport. So, weighing my options – a taxi ride of 30 minutes for $60, versus a bus ride of 1 hour and 40 minutes for $2 – I decided to ride the bus. This wasn’t my planned “TrIP” ride, but I took notes and recorded my observations as if it were.
The second time, I took the bus from my house to Downtown Credo, a coffee shop where I work nearly every Tuesday as part of an Orlando Coworking group. Credo is about 6 miles (a 15-20 minute drive) from my house. On the bus, it was a 1 hour and 15 minute journey.
Leaving the house as a pedestrian is such a different experience. I am thinking about what I’m wearing… as shoes… I’m thinking about whether it’s going to rain. Do I have time to walk to the stop? Do I need water? Feels very different… different things become important – sidewalks, smells – you see things. Trash, including discarded hair extensions…
On both trips, I found myself thinking a lot about the structure and the system, from the way public transportation is presented at the airport, to the way the LYNX routes are laid out. Why does it take so much longer than driving? Why do I have to go in to the central station just to get back out a few miles from where I started? Which route should I take? The rides were not unpleasant, they were just very long, and left me thinking, can we do better?
I rely a lot on Google Maps when I travel, especially for route calculation on public transportation systems. Being an artist and programmer immersed in technology, I am often thinking about technological solutions to problems, visualizing data, and harnessing the power of the computer to make the invisible visible.
My contribution to TrIP will most likely involve visualizations of LYNX bus data. Specifically, I am interested in creating some Google Maps mashups to explore two questions to begin with:
1) How long does it take to walk to the nearest bus stop from any point in Orlando?
2) Given a specific starting location, how far out can I travel (on public transportation) within a given amount of time?
Ultimately, I want public transportation to be a viable, empowering and desirable option for getting around Orlando. And I’d like to be a part of making that happen.