Innovation Bound Express Train is Running on the Local Track
Can commuters spark improvements in NYC transit services?
On March 5, 2011, a group of 25 hard-edged NYers gathered in the communal space of an Upper West Side apartment building to explore: “What might be all the ways we can improve the ridership experience on the NY City subway and bus system?”
It was an open challenge, and one these New Yorkers tackled with relish. These strangers generated nearly 200 hundred ideas spanning a variety of challenges: on-time performance, timetables, effective communications, buskers, cleanliness, temperature controls, community involvement, etc.
The workshop was facilitated by Innovation Bound, a consultancy dedicated to innovation and new ideas. One facilitator stressed, “We are always prepared for an overwhelming burst of idea generation, but the value of ideas is only realized when they become reality.” Innovation Bound provided training to help the participants focus their energies, make decisions and develop ideas into workable solutions. As one participant observed, “The methodology facilitates the free flow of ideas and unlocks the experiences and imaginations of the participants.”
Five groups were formed. Each group chose a particular solution to develop further and was given a real-world constraint in order to make the solution more tangible. A synopsis of the plans as the participants envisioned them follows.
- The Experience Campaign Targeted improvements geared to the senses:
Sight, Sound, Smell and Feel
- Flying Buses Not really airborne, but multiple options for a bus system un-constricted by street traffic
- Commuter Telepathy A Mobile & In-Station technology platform that personalizes communications to riders about maintenance, delays, and arrival times based on commuter habits and preferences
- Crosstown Express A collection of solutions to provide relief from cross-town traffic congestion; from high-tech moving walkways to a low-tech bike sharing system.
- Get Involved A community-driven plan for comprehensive transport policy and investment in NYC transit
The challenge ended with each group presenting its high-level implementation plan and receiving a well-deserved round of applause. “Problem solving is a fun way to build communities,” said participant and executive coach Carol Vinelli, “This model could be applied throughout the city.”