The Senate’s Livable Communities Act — all carrot, no stick? (MetropolisMag.com)
The bill, introduced by Sen. Dodd in 2009, has a lot of good ideas about improving cities, encouraging more energy-efficient housing, better transit and more cycling options, among other ideas. But reporter Karrie Jacobs says for all the fine ideas, the bill doesn’t mandate much. Nor can Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid say when it might pass the full Senate, nor does it appear the bill will get any traction in the House of Representatives any time soon.
The article on Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky’s website looks at how Metro’s creative services team over the past decade improved the agency’s identity by improving signage, painting buses and coming up with clever ad campaigns to inspire people to take mass transit. Along with service improvements, it seems to be working — a poll to be released later this year shows the agency’s public approval ratings are up considerably over the past eight years. The team has also revamped Metro’s website and tapped into local art schools to recruit talent through internships. Excerpt:
Although it’s difficult to definitively assess the impact of Metro’s marketing efforts, transit advocates widely credit the communications group with persuading Southern Californians that the transit authority everyone loved to hate in the 1990s was actually a clean, hip, worldly alternative to their beloved cars.
According to public opinion and customer satisfaction surveys due for release by December, public approval of the authority has risen in the past eight years to a solid 64% this year from a lackluster 41% in 2002.
Despite the encouraging numbers, some critics of the marketing strategy argue that Metro would do better to spend its money on improving its transit systems.
“I think they would better serve the public by making the system more accessible, rather than these ads that just say, ‘We have a bus and you can avoid traffic by taking it’,” says Nate Berg, a contributing editor at Planetizen.com, an urban planning news web site based in L.A.
“We know we have a bus. What we don’t know is where it goes, and when it’ll get there, and whether it will be there for them when they’re drunk in a bar at two in the morning.”
The federal government wants cities to make signs easier to read at night and because the overall age of the driving public is trending older. That means no more signs in all cap letters crowded together. Some cities are unhappy, saying they’re short of the cash to make changes.