Current mood: accomplished
Today I participated in a Smithville Planning Game, an exercise in planning the implementation of a transit system in a geographic area using limited resources. Pittsburgh's metro transit system, the Port Authority of Allegheny County, hired the Nelson\Nygaard agency to go out into the community to get people's ideas on how they felt transit should be implemented.
Working with a small group -- three in ours, four at the next table -- we were given a map of the area showing only major roads and a very few selected major destinations, such as malls, colleges and hospitals. The time it takes to travel between major intersections appeared on each road segment. Our job: Put 125 buses out there and serve as many people as possible, however we saw fit. If we wanted to put a bus every 5 minutes on only 10 roads in the whole area, fine. If we wanted to cover every road with a bus only once an hour, that was fine too.
The point was, we could not put as much service out there as we'd like to, however we wanted it done, so had to make decisions: Only rush hour service here? What about mid-day trips by seniors to medical centers? Can we honestly assume everyone in the bedroom suburb has a car and will travel to a park & ride, or should we put some on-street service through those communities? Whatever we came up with went straight into a spreadsheet, so we could be told how much service we had left to implement. It was educational, especially for the people I was working with who really had no idea how transit service was implemented.
This all took place at the Braddock Library, a full 15-mile hike to the other side of the county from my house. I did the trip there by bicycle, the farthest trip yet I've attempted by bike. Almost no problem getting there, just simple mechanical issues with the bike. It took about 90 minutes. Coming back, I utilized the trail alongside the East Busway Extension from Wilkinsburg to Swissvale, and the "jail trail" between Hazelwood and Downtown. Between them, I rode South Street through Wilkinsburg, and Forbes Avenue all the way from the city line to Oakland before picking up the trail. Once Downtown, I hopped a bus that would take me up to West View, three short miles from my house. This probably was a good idea, as the mechanical problems worsened (a stuck chain), making it difficult to move. Anyway, though, I made it home, wiped but happy.