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dmi:Design Value Award Winner




The Fast Forward Plan: A Complex Transportation Challenge

Bridgeable + New York City Transit (NYCT)


The New York City Transit, with 24/7 365 day service, 472 stations, and 50,000 employees, is the largest transit system in North America. It operates a vast network of subways, buses, and paratransit. Unfortunately, decades of under-investment in infrastructure, worsening gridlock, and heavy use have taken their toll. In July 2017, the Governor of New York declared the transit in a state of emergency. NYCT tasked the design firm Bridgeable to develop a comprehensive plan for the future of New York City’s transit system– quickly.

In contrast to a traditional top-down, internally focused strategic planning process, Bridgeable and NYCT applied a design sprint approach to the Fast Forward Plan— including co-created, cross-functional stakeholder engagement, rapid prototyping, and iteration of the plan itself. Introduced in May 2018, the process included multi-method stakeholder engagement, including 1-on-1 interviews, small group sessions, large-scale facilitation, and a digital survey. Strategic storytelling, graphic design, and visualization made a complex system with interrelated challenges understandable. More than 4,200 employees engaged, including more than 600 who participated live in an organization-wide Input Day and 3,600 others who contributed digitally. The team hosted facilitated sessions with key stakeholders that included multiple meetings with accessibility advocates and labor representatives

After 29 iterations and a little more than six weeks of development, the Fast Forward Plan is a detailed vision for how to solve a complex public infrastructure challenge that impacts millions of people every day including those with visible and invisible disabilities. It delivers concrete plans to improve service with specific deliverables, time-bound commitments, and clear lines of accountability. And it includes a top-to-bottom transformation of the NYCT organization with overhauled policies and procedures that increase agility and accountability.

Customers were given early input into the plan and were also invited to validate key elements of the plan later in the process. As a result, it speaks directly to their needs, reflects their perspective, provides a clear vision for improvement, and engages them in the delivery of the plan. The new design-driven planning process was a tool for culture change in the organization as well, representing a new and different way of working for NYCT. Cross-functional collaboration, open communication, and rapid iteration created a process that reflects what employees believe needs to be done to modernize both the transit system and their organization. While the plan has not yet proven its financial value, it, unlike other infrastructure investment plans, has garnered support across the political spectrum. Importantly, a foundational component of the plan includes policies and processes to ensure transparency and efficient use of capital funds.

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