An important benefit of building amenities and incorporating art into public transit is that it increases a transit system’s bottom line: ridership. By increasing ridership, transit systems become more financially viable, allowing them to increase routes and stops and increasing overall efficiency. As the system becomes more efficient and more engaging, through art and good design, it attracts what is known in the industry as “choice” riders. Choice riders are those who could drive but choose to use public transit instead. By attracting these riders in particular, the public transit system reduces traffic congestion and climate change-inducing carbon emissions. Equally important, however, is that a more efficient system can better serve all riders, including those who can’t afford a car or are disabled and depend on public transit to get to their jobs and access necessary community services.
The Federal Transit Administration (FTA) issued official guidance in 2001 encouraging local systems to incorporate art after completing a case study and report titled Art in Transit–Making it Happen. Review the report here:
When AIM was launched in 2005, the timing was right in Lexington. Voters had just passed the 2004 tax referendum that gave LexTran a stable source of local funding for the first time in its history. LexTran was finally in a position to expand the system beyond the bare-bones service it had offered for years and could begin doing long-range planning.
Providing more shelters was an obvious need, but why not incorporate art into shelters and address two needs at once? LexTran riders clearly needed more amenities and at many stops, basic shelter, and Lexington needed more public art and more engaging streetscapes. Out of this idea, Art in Motion was born.