TRANSIT PLANNING: MIT employs kid’s toy to bring public into transit system planning conversation

Researchers employed Legos to map out how changes in bus-rapid transit systems could affect Boston

Transportation Management News October 21, 2015
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Researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Department of Urban Studies, the Changing Places group at the MIT Media Lab, and the Barr Foundation have worked in collaboration on the building of three scale models: one of Dudley Square, one of a Boston street and a touchscreen interface that can represent an entire region—the first to of which were rendered with Legos.


The models have been made available to the public, in order to allow the common commuter to take a hands-on approach to understanding how new plans might influence their commute or the area in which they live or work. The models also create a medium for users to get a 3-D look at different commuting routes available to them.


The use of Legos makes this project something anyone with any background could be involved with. No engineering experience required. “Our ultimate objective is this idea of co-creation. We would like that to happen in how we produce 21st-century transit systems,” Chris Zegras, professor of transportation and urban planning at MIT, was quoted as saying.


Over the past week, researchers have opened their lab to the public, inviting both residents and local policymakers to play with the interactive tools. The response so far has been positive, Zegras said. “The interactivity allowed users to see those changes, to play with those changes, and to look at the estimates of what the cost of those changes would be.”

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