Capital Metro gives residents a glimpse into the life of transportation planners

Capital Metro gives residents a glimpse into the life of transportation planners

Posted By Guest Blog | Sep 26, 2017
Transportation, Membership Print Article Capital Metro gives residents a glimpse into the life of transportation planners

Everything is better with great food, especially discussions pertaining to transit planning and regional public policy. That’s why Capital Metro sponsored a ProjectConnect Game Night at Scholz Biergarten.

In partnership with Glasshouse Policy, the event was designed to get residents thinking about the future of transportation in the Central Texas region. This can be difficult for a few different reasons:

  1. The radius of transit enthusiasts is pretty small;
  2. People interested in transit planning tend to be firm in their opinions;
  3. Those opinions don’t take into account factors professional transit planners deal with;
  4. Those opinions conflict in ways that are hard and even impossible to reconcile; and
  5. It is hard finding residents who can talk about transit planning on a Thursday night.

So, you can see the dilemma. That’s why we bring folks to a beer garden and combine our planners’ expertise with the experience and crowd-pleasing skills of Glasshouse Policy. The result—absolute fun!

The idea was to give people a real-world situation, toss in some complicated factors and have them design a transit solution. For example, you’ve got a fast-growing medium-sized city with a traffic problem and an affordability problem that’s pushing lower-income residents out of the central core. But these residents still need transportation options that allow them to commute into the city for work. As a city planner, you must work within a budget to accommodate these residents and avid fans of cars to form a bond election.

Sounds fun, right?

Participants were given the following instructions and advice to play the game:

  • Implement a transit project you’re interested in including light rail, streetcars, rocket ships, and other alternatives;
  • The second time you play, go in a different direction. So, if you’re a light-rail-down-Lamar-and-Guadalupe true believer, try bus rapid transit or streetcars instead.

The intent was to make the players understand the complications inherent in the process and to see the possibilities available when you’re more flexible. In essence, to give these armchair planners a glimpse into the life of professional planners. (But make it fun!)

And it worked. The crowds came out and had a good time. About 60 people showed up, playing on 11 teams of two to six players each. The winners worked with their $1.1 billion budget and built three lines that were judged on their capacity to carry riders, the frequency of service, and ability to sustain long-term operations.

It really was a good time and the Capital Metro team has plans to bring it out to neighborhood events over the next coming months to give more people a chance to play. Be sure to check to find out where and when.

This content was written by this year’s Regional Growth Summit sponsor, Capital Metro. Created in 1985, Capital Metro is Austin’s regional public transportation provider that offers more than 30 million boardings each year.

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