There are thousands of ways that New York City could improve a system as vast and complicated as the subway. Randy Gregory is starting with just 100, posting a new suggestion to his Tumblr every day for 100 days—everything from adding skylights to sprucing up bathrooms.
Gregory, a student at New York’s School of Visual Arts, began the project as part of his coursework for a master’s in branding. "We were tasked to develop a project that we could repeat every day for 100 days," he explains over email. "Using the subway every day for class, I couldn’t help but think ‘What if…’" On April 13, he posted his first suggestion. On July 22, he’ll reach 100.
He explains his process as follows:
The majority of my ideas are self-generated. The process is focused around observation, taking the time to see where "pain points" exist, and where there could be potential for fixes or entirely new experiences. I then take photos, and write the ideas down in one of my many notebooks. Later that day, I develop the image and flesh out the concept, and post it the same day. Some days, I’ll pick something out of the notebook, and get the photography necessary to execute the image.
Some suggested improvements are the result of checking out how other cities, like London and Montreal, do things. And with the publicity the project has gotten, Gregory is now receiving many suggestions from the public.
It’s not just the Tumblr community that’s paying attention—the MTA is too. Gregory says that he has spoken with transit officials to discuss the feasibility of certain projects. "Some of the ideas are doable, but they would require ad-buy or co-branding opportunities. [O]thers require other organizations and political factions coming together to improve the experience for the riders," he says. The MTA is currently testing "interactive trip kiosks," similar to one of Gregory’s suggestions, which would help users plan routes.
But the MTA probably isn’t as interested in some of Gregory’s ideas, like odor detectors and painting the stations in bright colors to match their line numbers. These are sadly the same ideas that get readers most excited. "It’s the more 'fun’ ideas that get more traction on the blog," Gregory says. "We’re looking for the unexpected. It’s the little things that will make us smile, and enjoy riding the subway again."