All Transportation Is Local

Painting a picture to visualize the invisible policies that shape our cities.

All Transportation is Local is a multi-volume publication researched and written by TransitCenter about the tools mayors and other local officials have at their disposal to support investments in transit, which historically have been seen solely as the purview of state and federal governments. TransitCenter approached Objective Subject to design a responsive website (and print) version of the publication (discuss expanded scope below). I guided UX, Interaction, and Visual Design—including working closely with an illustrator—and contributed to Research and Strategy.

Date: Spring 2017


Fresh off our brand refresh, TransitCenter came to us with a concept for their next publication, which was aimed at politicians and elected officials to help them understand how ‘invisible’ local parking policies hamper building a ridership base for public transit investments.

TransitCenter explained that many cities spend considerably on new transit routes, then undermine those investments by requiring too much parking, which encourages driving and discourages (or prohibits) the dense, walkable neighborhoods that foster transit ridership.


As we dug into the brief, it became clear that there was an opportunity to incorporate additional qualitative aspects of the built environment that contribute to the lively, walkable neighborhoods conducive to transit usage.

As transit policy nerds ourselves, we understood that parking requirements were just one of many ways that public transit projects are sidelined in cities. Recognizing the complex, interconnected policies that hamper transit ridership in American cities, we went back to TransitCenter with an idea.

We sketched out a visual manifestation of the system of policies that impact neighborhoods adjacent to transit, and the urban landscape that results from said policies. Starting with the typical American city’s development optimized for car use, we created a series of five sketches that layered the step-by-step effects of policies that would result in more vibrant, mixed-use, and transit-friendly development in cities. Anything under a mayor’s jurisdiction was fair game.

TransitCenter loved the expanded scope and visual storytelling of our sketches—in fact, they proposed expanding the publication even further to include all aspects of policy under the mayor’s and transit agency’s jurisdiction. After a series of robust and fruitful conversations, TransitCenter team applied their in-depth knowledge, research, and experience to flesh out the content across the framework.

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Always bearing in mind the target audience—civic leaders—and the possibility of shifting political environments, we developed a concept for a handy toolkit that would be equally useful, compelling, and adaptable to new circumstances.

We designed a practical binder in a striking color to capture the attention of a busy public official. The content was divided by implementation considerations, rather than subject matter, to anticipate the steps local leaders would need to take.

The individual hole-punched sections allow for easy digestion while also leaving room for the publication to be updated with new or revised sections when TransitCenter has new findings in the future.

TransitCenter distributed All Transportation is Local to policymakers and transportation leaders around the country. TransitCenter’s useful, considered content married with our arresting and functional design elicited an enthusiastic response from policymakers on social media.

For the digital version, we expanded upon the design system we previously developed for TransitCenter’s publications by adding new modules to accommdate the specific content of All Transportation is Local. We also introduced sub-navigation to accommodate the multi-volume design of the print publication. Finally, we optimized our series of axonometric illustrations for online consumption with interactive triggers to clearly call out the cumulative effect of the policies in question.