Transit Columbus is calling on Columbus' creative class to map out new ways to get around the Arch City with the Re:map Columbus contest. Through Dec. 31, artists, designers and alternative transportation enthusiasts are asked to submit stylized and functional maps, integrating bus routes, bike paths, the Car2Go service areas and CoGo bike stations to show the best way to get from place to place around town. The winner not only walks away with $2,000 in cash, but also the chance to have their map used in various outlets around the city. Alive sat down with Elissa Schneider, board chair of Transit Columbus, to talk about why she believes Columbus' talent pool could open up a dialogue that leads to big changes in the transit system.

Transit Columbus is calling on Columbusí creative class to map out new ways to get around the Arch City with the Re:map Columbus contest. Through Dec. 31, artists, designers and alternative transportation enthusiasts are asked to submit stylized and functional maps, integrating bus routes, bike paths, the Car2Go service areas and CoGo bike stations to show the best way to get from place to place around town. The winner not only walks away with $2,000 in cash, but also the chance to have their map used in various outlets around the city. Alive sat down with Elissa Schneider, board chair of Transit Columbus, to talk about why she believes Columbusí talent pool could open up a dialogue that leads to big changes in the transit system.

Transit Columbus is about a better connected Columbus. As a city, we have largely ignored alternative transit. Itís fairly comfortable to drive a car in Columbus, but if you start to look at the demographics of where we are going as a city, you see there is a growing need. Itís projected that by 2050 we are going to add another half-million people to the metro area. Where are they all going to park? We believe alternative transportation is part of the answer in accommodating Columbusí growth. Most of the alternative transportation services that have come into our market recently are for-profit companies. Car2Go is in Columbus to make money. The fact that they can do that here shows there is an interest and a need for alternative transportation.

The maps we currently have arenít telling the whole story of alternative transit options in Columbus. Instead of COTA or Car2Go putting out their service map, we wanted to see how people actually use all the alternative transportation systems Columbus offers together. We wanted to see how the creative people who use alternative transportation integrated their options. When creative people who actually use the services create a map of use-options, it becomes more valuable.

This isnít about a fantasy map; this is about what actually exists now and how to use it. Fantasy maps are a lot of fun, but this is about the alternative transportation options we have now and how they are using them. Hopefully from this we will get a better look at what areas people are using, and be shown what we need to consider. Iím curious to see if the maps we get are focused on the Short North, or if they are focused on getting from the airport to downtown. We hope these maps will give Transit Columbus a different perspective on how people in the city travel. For example, we talk about COTA buses by number, but what if we called them by a certain route, or identified them by color. Maybe there is a whole different way to travel and tell other people how to travel around our city. Opening up that discussion will tell us how we can better serve actual users.

The winning map will become the cityís map to use. In addition to the $2,000 for the winner, we are partnering with organizations like Experience Columbus that actually have a use for a map like this. We want to be an open source for transit information in Columbus. We want to better tell the story of how to get around the city from a creative point of view.

For more information on how to enter, visit transitcolumbus.org.

Photo by Will Schilling