Wondering how to use the DC bus system? That reminds me of a story…

I knew the minute the first video blog came out for this class that the picking of the story for my final project would be tough. In our other GMU classes it was always a struggle to come up with a topic for the final project and I knew this would be no different. So I thought back to all the things in my life that I interact with but are not always explained well to me or others. Since I live in DC and like to use public transportation it dawned on me that that could be a great topic. Almost everyone seems to figure out the Metro Trains first and sometimes graduate to adding in the bus system. But I have heard more than once in my 7 years here that folks have a hard time figuring out our bus system. I feel the reason is the complex nature and multiple lines. The metro trains are fewer and thus the map is as well. You have less of a fear of getting on the wrong train and headed in the wrong direction than a bus it seems.

Why not rethink how the bus system guides are provided and rethink how to convey the message to readers. I bet stories based in the areas folks live with a journey to the major points in the city could be exactly what the doctor ordered. I think depicting the day and life of a character as they go to work and live life could really connect with people.
Picture of dc bus system


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12 responses to “Wondering how to use the DC bus system? That reminds me of a story…”

  1. rowan_peter says :

    Creating a number of different characters that represent archetypal DC bus users and their requirements could be a great instructional way to explain the services, features, functionality and connectivity offered by the system. For example, you could have a student on their way to school, a business person on the way to work, someone from out of town or even senior citizens travelling on the weekend. Each of the character could present a different scenario and aspects of the system and how it can be used to travel where you want on time. You could even intertwine the stories.

    I’m looking forward to seeing how you develop this concept further.



    • rowan_peter says :

      You could even extend it further to include an activity where the participant is required to plan the journey for one of the characters in a particular scenario. If you need to evaluate or check their understanding. This entire activity could take place online using tools like Washington DC website, google maps, foursquare, twitter and that Facebook location thing.

      • ctwilker says :

        I agree with you both and think there are a lot of ways you could map out the story. No pune intended. Okay maybe a little. But the profiles of the folks could vary and help shape the story.

  2. CogDog says :

    You are definitely onto a workable idea here. And guess what, I will ask you to suggest and think about a possible topic for the next 5 weeks, so you will have plenty of project ideas to choose from. In making you do more work, I make your life… easy?


    A possible unexpected twist might be to alter from making a passenger the perspective from which a story is told, to the bus or the bus system itself. It has to manage the stories and expectations of thousands of users, each who’s story matters the most to them. What is the story of bus #106?

    • ctwilker says :

      What a nice twist to have the bus or the bus system tell how they ferry folks here and there and the different characters they encounter. Not only that it could be from the view that it is their ‘job’ to get others to their job or friends. So they can speak to the areas they support or cover and the day-in-life type thing of the bus and what they see. By telling it from how they see the world each day you know the areas and parts of the city they cover. I like it!

  3. bcodelson says :

    I love this idea! I have found myself, on several occasions, picking my computer up and tilting it on it’s side so to be able to properly view the metro bus map. It would be great to see the bus system mapped out in a better format but I don’t envy the work that it would take! It seems like a daunting task.

  4. cew5x says :

    I will also jump on the love train for this idea. I grew up in the DC area, took Metro my whole life, yet never EVER took a DC bus (other than the one that goes from Union Station to Georgetown or some such route) for exactly the same reasons you describe. I think as part of the story solving problems/figuring out how to find your way back if you get lost etc would be an important component. I also like the idea of having the bus or a bus driver as a character. they could be the voice of “reason” or give an overview of how things are supposed to work (at least in theory).

    • ctwilker says :

      That is exactly what I want to help solve is the fear and the unknown because the maps are too hard to follow. I found I had to force myself to get out of my comfort zone but asked a lot of questions. So I like the idea of the bus driver being a voice of ‘reason’ too because I know I asked a milllion of the live one when I was learning.

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