Friday, February 29, 2008

The Glorious Transit Web

It's the web 2.0 and if you have a cause for transit, create a badge so it gets more recognition. Below are a few badges I've seen and causes I'm down with, others I'd like to see a badge for in no particular order:

Sound Transit 2.1
Austin Guadalupe Light Rail
California HSR
Geary Subway
Subway to the Sea



I've also been thinking about the need for a national transit campaign infrastructure. Everyone is really good at keeping up with the local causes but does there need to be some central place for organizing or getting the word out? I'm interested in the model that is used by Daily Kos or MyDD where they have a blog but also have user diaries. Instead of diaries however, because everyone has their own blog, perhaps it would be campaigns. This central blog would have contributors from each metro area discussing what is happening on the battlefield and where things are headed. Many of the blogs do that but this could be a central place to see what is going on nationally kind of like what the City Transit aggregator is trying to do. Perhaps it's a glorified version of the City Transit Aggregator.

Another important thing about this national info hub would be the ability to raise money around campaigns like Act Blue does for Democrats and Slatecard does for Republicans. Basically there are a whole lot of people out there who are interested in national transit policy and could use this as a way to get involved locally where alot of the big decisions are being made and help influence policy at the national level that helps cities get the funding they need for local projects. What do folks think? Is it something that should be fleshed out? Would people be interested in this kind of thing?

6 comments:

Rail Life said...

Great post and great ideas. We would love to see something like this!

Alon Levy said...

I'd begin by first building a decentralized network of transit bloggers. A good way to start is to make a blog carnival about public transportation. Especially when you use blogcarnival.com, blog carnivals can be incredibly easy to create and maintain.

Now, blog carnivals are the buses of blog communities. The next step is to have light rail connecting your area to the city center; that involves networking with large domestic economic policy blogs and get them interested in public transportation as a public investment issue. Get them to link to you; then link to other transit bloggers further down the line in order to attract commenters.

You could also start an aggregator for transit blogs - that's the equivalent of showing the people at the center that you have a vibrant secondary downtown.

Finally, when you have all this infrastructure in place, you could have a shot at successfully starting something like Daily Kos. That could take a month to achieve, or it could take a year. But before then, it'd fizzle.

For example, take the feminist blogosphere. From the start, it was centered around Alas, A Blog and Feministe; in 2005 it shifted to Pandagon, Bitch Ph.D., and Majikthise; in 2007 it shifted again to Feministing. Every step of the way there were meticulously planned group blogs intending to convey every point of view and present things the most accurately; every step of the way, they faded into obscurity while the most spontaneous blogs centered around individuals or exclusive small groups thrived.

Alon Levy said...

I forgot: you should also start your own diary at Daily Kos and/or MyDD, and get other liberal transit bloggers to do the same. Mention the importance of transportation infrastructure and the backward positions Bush and McCain take on the issue. There are a lot of angles you can use; stick to those that you're most comfortable with. If there's enough transit discussion on those blogs, try pitching public transportation as an issue for Yearly Kos '08 or '09.

Becks said...

I think these are great ideas, and I'd be happy to participate in a project like this.

Thanks for also sharing the transit badges. I think I'll work on one for supporting BRT in the East Bay.

Pantograph Trolleypole said...

Thanks for the comments guys. I think Alon has a good point that it needs to grow as a movement before it can be something bigger.

We do have aggregators like over at City Transit and places like Planetizen that do the planning side of things. I know Streetsblog is probably going to expand to a number of cities and there is a movement to have a national transportation coalition so perhaps we need to wait and see what develops.

I already post to Daily Kos under the name The Overhead Wire about transit issues. Some of the posts i like best get cross posted there. But that community is hard to break through in but has garnered a little interest from the environmental wing.

I'll look further into this idea though and let everyone know about the progress and probably ask for help and suggestions as this is supposed to be an idea for everyone who wants more transit choices in their cities.

Brent said...

Thanks for the inspiration! Now the RTGR blog has its badge on the right hand side of the site: lightrailgr.blogspot.com