Wednesday, February 13, 2013

TransportationCamp South was a wonk's heaven

Posted By on Wed, Feb 13, 2013 at 11:13 AM

Urban planner and blogger Matt Johnson gave a MARTA history lesson, pointing out how rail lines evolved and proposals that never got off the ground
Georgia Tech this weekend opened its doors to transit wonks, planners, data junkies, pedestrians, bicyclists, and community activists to trade ideas on how to improve metro Atlanta's woeful transportation network.

TransportationCamp South brought together a collection of "thinkers and doers" for a "unconvention" on transportation and technology. The daylong event held at Clough Commons covered everything from sidewalk talk to robot cars (yes,robot cars).

And it was a resounding success. The six-hour Saturday summit was the first in the Southeast and much larger than even the organizers originally expected.

Approximately 200 people traded ideas with other wonks and sat in on sessions about drafting a MARTA Rider's Bill of Rights, using mobile phones to pay for bus fare, building guerilla bicycle and pedestrian projects, crowdfunding transportation improvements, and much, much more. There was even a seminar about transit pick-up lines.

It was nearly impossible to attend every session and make the most of the conference, but CL was able to drop by some talks. (Some sessions' notes are available here.)

* A discussion about the future of Northside Drive turned into a free-ranging conversation about the potential traffic and development effects of a new Atlanta Falcons football stadium on surrounding neighborhoods.
* "Return on investment? Conservatives for transit?" tackled the various political problems bus and rail activists face when trying to make the case for mass transit funding appealing to fiscal conservatives.
* Matt Johnson, an urban planner and must-follow blogger, taught a packed room the history of MARTA from 1961 to 1971. He urged those discouraged by the recent failure to pass TSPLOST to not give up hope. "It's happened before," he said in regard to similar initiatives that had failed in the past, but which were re-tweaked and approved a few years later.
* Lyle Harris, MARTA's communications director, told a roomful of data junkies, start-up honchos, and transit wonks how the transit system wants to embrace its loyal riders and woo new straphangers.

In addition to MARTA's Harris, Joshuah Mello, the city's assistant transportation planning director, and representatives from the Atlanta City Council, Atlanta Beltline and Atlanta Streetcar were in attendance. If anyone from the Georgia Department of Transportation, the office of Gov. Nathan Deal, or the General Assembly were in attendance, well, we didn't see them. Their loss.

Here are some more photos from the event.

Attendees proposed and selected sessions from a large schedule pasted on the wall
  • David Schick
  • Attendees proposed and selected sessions from a large schedule pasted on the wall

Seminar groups ranged from a few people to packed rooms
  • David Schick
  • Seminar groups ranged from a few people to packed rooms

Attendees take a break during lunch

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