This section describes some of the attempts of some people to make public transport more usable, with little in the way of resources and not necessarily using new technology. But the ideas share certain properties of creating sparks.
I've chosen this for beginners as it was perhaps the first information product that made a real difference to users. It was produced by a staff member of the Railway Clearing House in his own spare time, then taken to market as a product. Now known as the OAG Guide so a survivor too, and not improved upon.
Beck we have already referred to so a special case. So let's celebrate the first attempt to extend his notation to the whole of Network Southeast. It is still the best and the most usable.
Not only does this provide 5 walks involving public transport but it has a rather clever mating game too. The book has a list of dates and the idea is that you get into a particular carriage and all get together. One walk one week is gay men, one women etc. The walks are publicised in Time Out every week. I wonder how much the railway companies have made out of this and not contributed?
Acorn books published this really simple guide to walking and public transport. It covers the whole of Britain, so we need more detail for particular. The green and smart list is an even easier mode of publication.
This is a book published by Mainstream Publishing in association with London Transport which is the result of an Adult Education class which goes for walks. I can't tell whether she is teaching writing, history, research, project management, team building, education, planning, leisure, transport planning or just going for walks because it is fun, but the book is exemplary for how simple actions can have excellent results. The photographs are by David Sharp and I shan't make any presumptions.
My only gripe is that the London Underground map is published, already very widely available, whereas what is really needed is the Network Southeast London Connections but done as a visual index to the A-Z, with the walk numbers notated.
Everyone has seen the web site? This has really made a difference. It wasn't I suspect as easy as 1-2-3 at all. It was probably actually quite difficult. But it is a difference that has made a difference. Comparing it with 0845 48 49 50 in terms of bang for buck would be an interesting experiment.
It has certainly cracked a difficult problem for human information processing, how to work out interchanges. But why can't this be sorted out for bus and then bus and rail? www.pti.org.uk isn't the answer.
Everyone has seen the posters? Apparently the impact of this web site has already been significant.
The idea of this is a type of information retrieval I have called visual indexing, but with a difference.
What I have suggested is that rather than using any other alphabetical or spatial notation, we work on time and frequency of public transport access combined with somewhere being worth going to. If there is good public transport then work out what is worth visiting.
Then make an anchor. Mine is London, and the design decision is £5 and an hour for travel. The size of the travelcard area though means that perhaps £10 and two hours will give full coverage. In other words Godalming for me (in Surbiton) is £4.15 whereas Huntingdon is £12. Now choose the eight places which have best connectivity and describe them around your centre. Number your centre 0 and the others 1-8 working clockwork from top left hand side.
Now each of those can become its own centre with a similar treatment.
Half the distance or half the time (or some combination) between the centre and the extreme becomes the second level. Each node can in turn be treated as its own centre.
Half each distance/time again, between the original centre and the second level, and between the second level and the extreme and you have the third level. Use a standard numbering notation and you now have eight each with eight (ie 64) and 16 each with eight (128) which is more than enough places to want to track. More information on how to find out all you need to know on the information resources is in Grass routes planning and What shall we do, which are on my web site and on the trip mail list.
Each of these diagrams can be built in something simple like powerpoint then each box can be a hypertext link to the text which describes the node. Even managing a document collection of this size might be less fun and more work than going for a walk.
This whole experiment has been written up in As easy as 1-2-3. available on my web site.
One of the things we are testing in green and smart is how to organise words in order to make public transport usable, and how words in linear narrative, such as in this essay will need to change to be usable on the world wide web. If you want to experiment, feel free to download the text from this listserver and play with it.
Illustrations are a more difficult problem, so make your own. For that matter, rather than experimenting with my green and smart, go and make your own then send the url to the list.