so what’s a transitist?

It’s one thing to get around.

It’s another to think, “why did the chicken cross the road? Well…how did she get there? Did she take the bus…? And how long did it take her to get to her stop? What kind of trips would the chicken make if she had access to mobility as a kind of subscription service, in the form of on-demand shared rides with other chickens?”

Transit can mean different things to different people. Urban planners and city officials tend to think of transit as specifically the service or good of public transportation; tax dollars funding mobility for citizens. But logistics engineers look at supplies and goods being moved around in transit, and the same language is used for non-commuting travel (someone flying on American Airlines from Phoenix, Arizona to Washington D.C. is a passenger in transit).

Also, it’s hard to find a sexy-sounding word for the transportation industry. We just don’t get lucky that way, it seems. Instead we can be Planner I or Planner II (or the all-holy Planner IV), like the folks at the end of the credits of a film. We can try to class it up by calling ourselves mobility specialists, but it still all sounds a bit awkward. But “ist” has the connotation of a specialist or expert; economist, psychologist, sociologist, scientist, futurist. Actually, to be really good at designing transportation ecosystems you need to be a little bit of all of those things with a dash of urban design thrown in. Thus: the term “transitist”.

So if you’re someone who cares about the flow of people and goods through an urban core and the resulting impact on the environment and society, safe to say you are probably a transitist.

There are a few reasons I put this project together. I’m looking forward to writing at Transitist.co to gather ideas (my own, mostly, but I hope to include others!) about how we can look at transportation differently. Transitist is meant to be a space for idea generation, critique of the industry and societal or cultural preferences towards mobility (car ownership in the US versus jeepney riding in the Philippines) or just discussions on what the future of mobility may entail. For example: autonomous vehicles shouldn’t just make people think of robot Teslas, but of mobile operating theaters that take over the traditional role of the ambulance. Not only would this mean redesigning the ambulance, but maybe we could redesign hospital bays too- maximizing the way space is used so that we move the patient the least amount of time and distance.

Luckily I not only get exposed to cutting edge developments through my own work at RISE Viktoria, but I happen to know really intelligent people who, for reasons beyond my understanding, keep talking to me. They will also be posting about the intersection of politics, policy, and planning- all major components that create the world in which we live and move.

But the other reason I wanted to start Transitist is because I’m curious to see what happens if I try to create a community of people who are excited to imagine what the future could be like. I want to challenge myself to write in this space and grow this space throughout 2017. So I hope the internet holds me to it, and that we get the ball rolling together.

See you in 2017!

/Sigma

 

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