Where does it come from? And what are those responsible thinking about?
World Streets readers will certainly want to stay on top of this project of the city of Helsinki to come up with what we call a “better than car transportation system”. The excerpts just below taken from an article published in the Guardian yesterday will lead you to the full piece. There is a mild irony to the extent to which the “technological core” of the project has to do with the mobility arrangements which have been receiving steady, and happily increasing, attention since the mid-1960s, namely DRT or Dial-a-Ride. The massive change elements which fundamentally transform and scale up the basic DRT of long past operational system is a combination of close to universal mobile phones, abounding apps, and Big Data. That plus a good dose of public entrepreneurship and outreach changes everything. We invite you to have a look and to share your thoughts with us about this intriguing real world adventure.
The following listing of organizations around the world that are “fighting for free public transport” has been compiled by the Swedish activist group Free Public Transport, whose aim is to provide a global forum for the free public transport movement. Their website among other things provides information about local organizations around the world fighting for free public transport, as well as cities which have already implemented it. For their latest listing, click to http://freepublictransports.com/organization/.
The goal of this open collaborative project and crowd sourcing exercise, which spans the period January 2012 to December 2013, is to organize, hold and report on a series of public dialogues in a certain number of host cities and government groups on different continents, meeting with and seeking out the views of a broad cross-section of people, groups and interests who are ready to brainstorm on the concept of equity as a potential base for a new transport paradigm and strategy for the city.
Equity? Hmm. This, it turns out on inspection, is not quite so easy a concept to get across. In English it’s already tough enough. And as I have learned somewhat painfully, it gets even more challenging in many other languages. Here are some late night thoughts on this word that I share with you in the hope it may inspire comments and clarification. So here you have my notes, more or less in the order that they came to mind late in the night.
- – – > For more on the Equity Agenda click here.
In the last months of 2011 subject to a series of preparatory discussions, the author was invited to work with the support of a small team of professionals under the direction of the City Planning Department /Transportation in order to organize, carry out, and as appropriate follow up on these open public conversations. We spent close to two months laying the base for the public discussion stage of the project.
During the two weeks in Helsinki we met with almost 200 people representing a broad cross-section of interests and points of view, organized and participated in on the order of twenty interviews and brainstorming dialogues, three half-day master class sessions, and on 27 April a final plenary presentation organized to present and invite first feedback and recommendations on this intensive process. The final presentation was followed by a session of questions from the audience and general discussion, with a brief closing summary of observations and findings made by the Deputy Mayor of Helsinki Pekka Sauri, in charge of Public Works and Environmental Affairs for the city.
One year almost ot the day after the start-up of the first Helsinki project, I have carefully reviewed this original article, slightly rewritten it for clarity, but above all have added a fair number of observations, questions and cautions by distinguished colleagues following this project in many parts of the world. Valuable food for thought for anyone who wishes to get a handle on some of the fundamental issues to be considered for eventual equity-based transportation reform.