Recap: Thoughts on Mobility from Dominique Laousse, INTA33, Koahsiung, Taiwan

Dominique Laousse held court at during his master class on perspectives in sustainable transport on the first day of INTA's 4 day conference in Taiwan, unleashing a spirited 90 minute monologue on emotional mobility and intelligent transportation that remains a highpoint of the conference:  an admittedly unscientific poll showed that for many INTA33 attendees, Laousse's ode to transport was among their top three favorite seminars.

With over 15 years under his belt at RATP, Laousse currently serves as one of the chief ideas man for a company that hosts some 75,000 employees globally, 45,000 in France-In the Paris area alone, RATP operates one of the world’s largest multi-nodal systems, which carries 10 million people per day--As such, his whims and considerations become fodder for future initiatives that can affect millions.

In Laousse's company, I think we all felt a little compelled to reconsider the way in which we understand transportation and commuting.  Raised in Chicago riding the old L trains in the loop, public transport for me is about bracing or holding one's breath, getting from point A to point B, and never about the in between.

Laousse, quite convincingly, argues that in order for us to live sustainably, our experience taking public transportation must change.  Taking trains must become tantamount to going to the grocery or sitting down at your desk, it must be comfortable and easy and the time must be spent in an accessibly productive manner.  In some ways, this is nothing new.  We've heard about chronic commuters before.  And, the 21st century is an era of multi-tasking.

Laousse distinguishes his position by lobbying for simple solutions and ubiquitous technologies, fundamentally advocating for affordable modifications and additions that change our everyday experiences.

These solutions can be as simple as signage, or making maps more accessible, conducting mobility workshops for the community and awarding diplomas for graduates.  To the latter, Laousse points out, in a world in which 30% of people in the developed countries are functionally illiterate, it is important to use multiple channels to communicate how transportation systems work.  A commuter that can get to point A, B, and C utilizes multiple nodes in the transportation system and interchanging these nodes, is empowered.  An empowered commuter is probably a happier commuter.

Reader's Note: This is one in a series that looks at more emotional, more intuitively intelligent approaches to public transportation.  Stay tuned for future reports about transportation with the ideas man Dominique Laousse.