Alnoor Kassam is perhaps the early contender for most visible candidate in the up-coming Calgary municipal elections. You’ll see his green and white “Go Alnoor” billboards in many places in Calgary, he’s on the radio, and even online through an ambitious Google Adwords campaign. You can make friends with him on Facebook and MySpace too! He seems to be well organized technically with a slick new website complete with a blog!
Through perfunctory research, it’s apparent that Mr. Kassam’s campaign strategy hinges on votes from Calgary’s unhappy transit passengers. With such a transit-focused campaign, it makes us wonder what Mr. Kassam knows about Calgary Transit besides the amount of time it takes him to get to work and back. With many promises being made towards extending the LRT tracks westward, is this the best approach to growth? Is it the best use of tax money?
In this post, we proudly present our platform for the upcoming election which includes a comprehensive plan for improving Calgary Transit from a design perspective.
An Online System Upgrade
The Calgary Transit website is a living relic of web development from the mid-nineties. It uses technology that doesn’t work on mobile web browsers. In overhauling the site, we’ll provide a CSS (Cascading Style Sheets) based website that is not only accessible to people at home or at work but also accessible to those around Calgary on cell phones and wireless devices. We’ll provide the option of receiving mobile alerts, giving commuters instant access to information on delays, and specific information about when the next train will arrive in order to revise their commute on the fly. By improving communication between Transit and passengers, the anger of being delayed is not compounded by the frustration of remaining uninformed. RSS updates will also be made available from the website to notify users of maintenance outages, route revisions, and zone closures. Maps and route information will be downloadable wirelessly for quick reference.
An ever growing Calgary Transit cannot cope with growing ridership, longer trains, and more residents arriving monthly. This issue needs to be addressed and we pledge to serve our constituents honourably in this matter.
Advertising with Style
Calgary Transit advertising is running behind schedule in terms of target audience and current trends. The yellow banners celebrating seventh avenue’s illustrious place among city thoroughfares look quite dated and un-remarkable. The photography is average and portrays common people doing common things such as shopping, going to the library, and looking business-like. The font and colour scheme promote a mediocre image of transit service and does not do well in making us feel good about getting to point B. The posters at various stations are also mundane and sub-standard design wise. If elected, we would introduce an advertising campaign aimed at raising the morale of transit users and the profile of the service with an emphasis on making Calgary proud of going green to get around. In this case, we believe that looking good is an important first step towards better service.
Drivers with Pride
How long has it been since Calgary Transit drivers have been issued new uniforms? Perhaps it’s never been done. It’s time for the 80′s Sun-Ice-like navy blue and pink winter jackets to go. Our platform promotes pride on the job and pride comes with feeling good about how you are dressed. If we’re elected, new uniforms won’t be far behind. It’s our vision to transform Transit’s scripty “Catch Our Pride” motto from an out-dated mockery of current conditions, into a real promise of a faster future.
A Unified Look
With the introduction of the new red, grey, and white trains and buses, we had hoped that it was the end of the road for the classic cyan, magenta, and navy blue. As it turns out, this is not the case. In an e-mail, Debb Scott, Customer Service Reports Coordinator, states that the new look will be reserved only for the new train cars and articulated buses. From our perspective, a mix-matched fleet of multi-coloured vehicles is an unfortunate situation. The potential to present a unified look is a great communication tool, not only from an advertising perspective but also in terms of making it easier for people to ride transit. It becomes confusing to clearly discern which bus or train to take if two different colour vehicles arrive simultaneously. We disagree strongly with this decision and would gladly implement the old colour scheme if it meant a unified Calgary Transit fleet.
In this election, it’s high time design received its fair share of attention. We can’t ignore the need for Calgary Transit to embrace technological advancements and communication improvements before the system is too large to manage successfully or change easily. Before giving up your seat on our transit system in favour of a ride on a political bandwagon, it’s important to consider the scope of the issues at hand. Is the need for better design one of them? It’s your call on October 15th.