Posts Tagged: CompuTrans 3000



Thought Experiment: The CompuTrans 3000

Don't touch the CompuTrans 3000. Image by flickr user Don DeBold.

Because we haven’t done one of these in a while; a Thought Experiment:

In the not-too-distant future a group of transit geeks invent the CompuTrans 3000*. It is the world’s most advanced method of analyzing and predicting the success or failure of a planned transit initiative based upon a series of metrics. It quickly establishes a name for itself given its near-perfect track record.

Very soon, the CompuTrans 3000’s inventors decide to open it up to the entire world by creating an online portal for it. Suddenly, any transit geek, planner, politician, community advocate, academic or anyone else interested has the opportunity to present their armchair transit plan to CT3 (as his nickname becomes) and have it vetted by the greatest known analytical tool ever yet marshalled in the industry.

Here’s the catch: You can use CompuTrans 3000 for free, but your idea – and it’s score – gets posted online in a leaderboard comparing the relative merits of one concept against another in a given geographic area.

In City X, the three plans that sit atop the leaderboard are:

  • A plan by the city’s own transit agency that receives a score of 74%
  • A plan by a noted transportation academic that receives a score of 78%
  • A plan by an anonymous individual, group or business that receives a score of 94%

Which plan will City X’s transit agency choose to undertake, understanding that they have absolutely zero obligation to follow the prescribed actions of the CompuTrans 3000?

The answer, I suspect, says more about you and your relationship to the city you live in than anything else – and that’s the point.

There is, of course, no such thing as the CompuTrans 3000 and there likely isn’t to be such a thing any time in the near or distant future. But by imagining a world where the quality of a plan can be rationally analyzed fully completely, we’re freed to explore the very real reasons why the best plan might not be be selected for implementation.

And those reasons might be more important than the plan itself.

* Note: The CompuTrans 3000 was invented by the same people who developed the CableRailyGyroCopter

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