Benefits of a community bus tour
A bus tour can be one of the most effective tools during the vision development phase of charrette preparation.
A bus tour can be one of the most effective tools during the vision development phase of charrette preparation. Ideally, the bus tour includes stakeholders representing all viewpoints including city staff, elected officials, community members, and the charrette design team.
The best person to lead the bus tour is a local urban designer or planner from either the consultant team or the planning department. It should be someone who not only understands good town planning, but also knows the area.
The purpose of the tour is to create a shared set of experiences and reference points among a diverse set of stakeholders on various growth patterns. It can be very valuable during the charrette to be able to say, “Remember when we were on the bus and we stopped at this corner of 5th and Pine? Remember how that looked? That’s what we want to do here.” Being able to refer back to a shared reference and experience is very valuable.
Bus tours can be done no more than four to six weeks before the charrette and are sometimes led on the first day of the charrette. The tour is orchestrated to visit both good and bad developments related to the project at hand. The entire spectrum of development should be discussed.
One popular technique is to give each attendee a disposable camera and have them take pictures of architectural and planning details that they would like to see more of in their community.
The bus tour can cover much more ground than the walking tour (discussed in last month’s newsletter) and is not as highly organized (bus tours do not involve the teams of recorders and sketchers). The bus tours are a bit less formal and allow the stakeholders to cover much more ground (for example, a neighboring community).