Searching For a Starting Point

By thauckthauck (1224261339|%a, %b %e at %I:%M%p)

Introduction

detroit-smart-bus.jpg

Trying to put together a collection of information on the state of public transportation in Southeast Michigan is a pretty daunting task. For decades the region has operated under an “every man for himself” mentality, resulting in the existence of numerous transportation systems. For me, one of the greatest challenges in collecting this data is making sure I am able to uncover all of these systems and am able to compile a list in a way that makes sense for the user of my wiki.

I have decided the best way to go about starting my project, is by using some advanced search techniques to get a feel for what all the different Southeast Michigan transit systems and plans are and use it as a jumping off point for my project. I think that this will allow me to start a collection of things to search for as I employ the use of more information retrieval resources. For things like RSS feeds, it's probably best if I can create some feeds off of specific systems, so I should take sometime to figure out what those systems are.

A Search For Current Systems

I started off the search by running the following query on Google:

“Southeast Michigan” “public transportation” –plans

BAM! A blog entry on Model D Media ends up coming through for me! Not a site that I would have expected to be that useful, but right there at the top are some statistics about Southeast Michigan transit systems. Now I know that some major systems are the Detroit People Mover, the Suburban Mobility Authority, and the Detroit Department of Transportation. Interesting to note that the Detroit Department of Transportation and the Detroit People Mover are different systems! Good start.

Woah! An even better find! I was taken to the website for transportation for the Michigan House Fiscal Agency. Right on that page was a memo that contained the following:

There are two primary providers of public transportation services in Southeast Michigan, DDOT and SMART.

Okay, this is a good thing to know. But there’s more…

The combined ridership of DDOT and SMART, approximately 48.5 million passengers for 2006, is more than the combined ridership of all 77 other Michigan public transit agencies.

That’s a pretty important fact, and it’s from a legitimate source. I guess I should consider focusing a lot on those two systems because it seems like they have the biggest influence on public transit in Southeast Michigan. Awesome!

Okay, but… I’m still not satisfied.

Going off of what I said before about the region being decentralized, let’s take Detroit out of the equation and see if a public transit search yields any results. How about this query:

“Southeast Michigan” “public transportation” –Detroit

Not as much luck this time. One of the results was for the City of Ann Arbor and eventually got me to the website for the Ann Arbor Transit Authority, but I was surprised to not see the AATA among my top results. I was also expecting more from Detroit suburbs, but it might be that my personal perception of the region is a little off. I think that I will be see what the truth is as I explore the topic with other techniques.

Conclusion

detroit_FS2_RenCen_People-Mover.jpg

I think that using pretty specific searches yielded me some good information, however, I am just a little distressed to see that I was not more successful. However, what I found out about SMART and DDOT will likely change the direction of my project.

I definitely recommend using Google and more advanced search techniques. It has given me a great jumping off point!

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