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How Albuquerque's Fake Subway Map Starts New Public Transit Conversations

Public transportation projects often take decades to fully complete and cost billions. But they empower communities, benefit the environment and reduce traffic congestion—and sometimes they can also last less than a month and cost a few thousand dollars. In Albuquerque, local designer and developer Ben Byrne became city planner du jour recently when he shared his vision for an Albuquerque subway.
Painstakingly crafted with authentic details, his schematic map of the greater Albuquerque area includes six subway lines extending from Coronado Monument to the Hard Rock Pavilion, with clearly-labeled stations and transit hubs that mimic the look of some of the world’s most famous subway maps. Stops like the Sunport, Old Town, Nob Hill and the Tram provide convenient access for tourists, while others help commuters get to work and back.
The map was submitted to social networks for review and became a viral sensation. Enthusiastic Burqueños virtually voted through likes and shares to approve the plan. Concerns were raised about the lack of access to lower income neighborhoods and inquiries were made on completion times. For the indefinite future, the people of Albuquerque can continue debating this project, while they enjoy their subway as wall art—since this construction project is limited to a print run of 18 x 24 posters.
Ben was inspired by his friends’ work at Transit Authority Figures, producing several “fake subway maps” for cities like Austin, Texas and island communities like Martha’s Vineyard. Though Rob and Damia of TAF were not involved in the design of this particular map, Ben credits them with the general look and feel of the design.
I have made my pledge to this project and intend on expanding the possibilities into the physical environment. This subway map is a way to dream about our collective future. My own program, A/WAY, started with our meal-based microgranting Give A/WAY dinners, part of the Sunday Soup network. Ben’s faux map allowed us to collectively dream about how we are all connected and how we want more for our city. We want better public transportation. We want to be better connected.
After the successful completion of his Kickstarter, with Ben’s blessing, we intend to keep this inspiring project alive, and A/WAY will be physically marking off the subway points in each community for future “groundbreaking.” These points will become virtual social network stations where visitors can share their concerns about public transportation in our city. Using Twitter and Textizen, the open source survey platform from Code for America, we hope to open the dialogue to citizens to voice their thoughts about public transportation in Albuquerque.
I encourage you to share and support Phase I of this project—the poster, the only physical manifestation of the "proposed" subway. Pledge your support through Kickstarter to be rewarded with your own poster.

This project will be featured in GOOD's Saturday series Push for Good—our guide to crowdfunding creative progress.

Image courtesy of Ben Byrne\n

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