Champions of the environment and lovers of global warming documentaries are thoroughly aware of Earth’s ailing health. Not just environmental activists but even the average person on the road has a bad feeling about the planet. In far off lands, ‘melting of glaciers’ and ‘erratic weather’ closer to home – let’s just say, the signs of doom are many.
The country has woken up. Rock-solid steps are being taken. By individuals, by societies, and by the government. From attempts to eradicate plastic by banning it in most major cities, tree-planting schemes, the whole narrative around carbon foot-print, environmental awareness in schools and colleges, the mushrooming of farmers’ markets, cleanliness drives, natural products on the shelf to more niche initiatives like upcycle beer made from dairy waste.
The question, however, is –how can we push the envelope? Are there any less obvious but equally impactful ideas to heal the environment? One such idea, in our opinion, is the beautification of public transport.
Truth be told, converting buses from petrol to CNG may have made them more environment friendly but that has not made car owners ditch their four-wheelers for a bus-ride. We believe that a real conversion can be brought about by elevating mundane public transport to pieces of art.
(a) By making buses and trains an attractive and engaging option for the weary commuter.
(b)By understanding the importance of embellishment and allocating appropriate budgets for the same.
(c) By instilling a sense of pride in the commuter and making his ride ‘sharable’ on social networks.
To make our point, we have handpicked examples of how art and design has elevated the status of public transport across the world.
- Japan’s quirky fruit shaped bus stops: If you have a penchant for all things fruity, from ice creams to cosmetics, Japanese town Konagai’s fruit shaped bus stops will fascinate you instantly. Strawberries, tomatoes, and green-apples – they are built-in all kinds of shapes, seasonal or non-seasonal. Created for multiple reasons, one of them being to encourage the transit system, these bus stops have also ended up becoming tourist attractions. Now tell us, if you had an apple bus-stop closer to home, wouldn’t you give your car a day off and bite into one of these?
- Vancouver’s relaxed campsite like bus-stops: Mini-breaks on a hammock in the middle of a hard day is everybody’s dream. But in Vancouver, it’s also an integral part of how people get from one part of the city to the other. The city of snow-capped mountains and crystal clear seas is also known for bus stops with hammocks and a camp-like vibe. While this idea might be impractical for a chaotic country like India, it definitely serves as an example of how art and design can be used to attract commuters.
- Thailand’s ostentatious bus body designs: Aumphur Muang in Thailand is home to artists and mechanics that transform buses into canvases with their bold designs. Recently the creative folks painted an entire series of superheroes on the body of the buses. Their designs are eye-catching and make a statement as they whiz past the streets. With no dearth of artists or superhero fans in India, this would be a terrific idea to take forward. Imagine going to work with batman on one day, and superman on the other. If cheap thrills can save the earth, then why not!
Artistes, designers, and countrymen: any thought starters?