a Field Guide to Everyday Transit

clear that ish!

Watch the trailer!

15 Minutes or Better is a video series about the fundamentals of effective public transit.

It's a fun, engaging exploration of the core elements of good transit service.

This project comes from Detroit – but it's relevant everywhere. We need your help to make it happen. Please learn more...

clear that ish!

Transit is hot.

Today, transit is showing up in the context of much sexier topics: technology, development, smart cities. We're excited that transit is part of these dialogues. And we want to ensure that the expanding convo about transit actually talks about transit.   read on >>

What is it?

15 Minutes or Better is a series of fun, informative videos about public transit. Specifically, about transit service – the ground-level elements that make great transit systems great.

If we only name the things we're talking about, it all sounds dry and boring. That's why we're creating a video series: to show rather than tell. And, in so doing, to give transit supporters better tools to rally for the issue.

clear that ish!

OK, then what are you talking about?

The core features of transit. The things that make the difference between a great transit system and a harder-to-use transit system. In each video segment, we will spotlight one of these elements:

  • Coverage
  • can i tap into the system from my neighborhood?
  • Connectivity
  • do transit lines connect logical points?
  • Accessibility
  • are stops & stations convenient to my actual destination?
  • Span
  • does transit service stop running at 6:00p? at midnight? does it run 24 hours?
  • Frequency
  • if i miss the bus, how long until the next one?
  • Speed
  • does every bus stop every block? are there faster options?
  • Relevance
  • is the transit system in-tune with local context?

At a glance, this may all look like jargon. But, whether they use these terms or not, everyday people insist on these features to get on board with transit.

clear that ish!

So, the videos are super-technical?

Quite the opposite. They are engaging and personable!

We take all that technical-sounding stuff and present it in a decidedly non-technical format. We'll walk viewers through actual rides on actual transit systems. Along the way, we'll point out what is working – in clear, accessible terms.

At great transit systems, customers often take the "what's working" elements for granted. At systems striving to improve, supporters can't always pinpoint what they want to see. 15 Minutes or Better is useful to these audiences and more.

clear that ish!

Who is the audience and how can they use the videos?

We target people who are already aware of transit. The goal is to give them new tools to expand their knowledge – and be more effective advocates for the cause.

Notably, 15 Minutes or Better is not a blanket, high-level introduction to transit. It also doesn't attempt to convince skeptics of the value of transit. That's a different challenge for a different project.

clear that ish!

Where are you going?

Each video segment takes place in a different US city. By capturing diverse examples, we intend to show that effective transit isn't reserved only for huge cities or certain regions. Innovative transit services are hard at work in some unlikely places.

While our final travel itinerary is subject to change, we've identified several cities with living proof of our message: Cleveland, Washington, Houston, Kansas City, Seattle, Portland, Los Angeles, Cincinnati, Detroit.

clear that ish!

Why are you doing this?

Two big reasons.

First, we're from Detroit. Yep, the Motor City – perhaps the least likely place for a transit project to launch. The struggles of our transit system are well-documented. Fortunately, serious efforts are underway to make improvements.

We want to make sure that local transit efforts address the core of the matter. While policy and regional coordination are important components, we can't call it a win until we're improving the actual transit service. For our local audience, 15 Minutes or Better gives essential background on a complicated, widely misunderstood issue.

Second, we follow the goings-on at the national level. We are encouraged by the swell in interest in public transit. We're also a little bit concerned: popular conversations about transit tend to skirt the fundamentals and drift toward sub-topics: policy, technology, economic development, placemaking.

Those are all great subjects. But a serious discussion about improving transit simply isn't complete without attention to the service itself. We hope to prove that transit service topics aren't too technical for the mainstream. Rather, they're at the heart of what everyday people want from transit.

clear that ish!

You need money?

Glad you asked! Yes, creating 15 Minutes or Better is a complex and costly undertaking. We have identified specific, itemized expenses to capture, compile, edit and present the material. You can view the full proposal budget here.

With the generous support of more than 150 individuals, we have raised over $10,000 through crowdfunding. We are actively seeking sponsorships, grants and other funding sources to complete the budget.

Please contact us at 15.minutes.or.better@gmail.com for information on sponsorship opportunities.

clear that ish!

And when it's done?

We'll make the whole video series available via online channels, free of charge. The idea is to equip any transit supporter with a powerful new resource.

In Detroit, we'll host special events to further highlight the importance of transit service elements. The videos will act as a springboard to more effective advocacy.

Elsewhere, we will reach out to local advocacy groups to equip them with this powerful tool.

clear that ish!

Can you tell me more?

Of course! This page hits on our "MFAQ"s – most frequently asked questions. You can find out more at the "LFAQ" page (coming soon...)

clear that ish!

last update: May 19, 2015

a project of Freshwater Transit & Freshwater Railwayfrom Detroit... to the world!