Bay Area Transit Stations to Feature Local Writers

As reported in Bloomberg CityLab by Sarah Holder, the Bay Area Rapid Transit District (BART) is launching a news contest to encourage riders to return to public transit and explore network services. “Starting June 1, the transit agency will begin accepting short stories of 7,500 characters or less on the theme of ‘movement’. A panel of local writers will choose 30 to distribute at booths placed at four network stations.

Based on the concept introduced for the first time by the French start-up Short Édition, “which launched and piloted for the first time the deposits of small fictions in Grenoble in 2011”, the kiosks are part of the effort of the agency to “get passengers back on trains for more than just their jobs and encourage them to visit the network more.”

With commuter ridership still well below pre-pandemic levels, Holder notes that “there may be more opportunities to win back commuters working remotely when they are not on time: ridership weekdays are now at 35% of pre-pandemic levels, Trost says, while weekends are back at 60%,” signaling a growing need to redirect transit services to non-commuters.

“Unlike the MTA’s ‘Poetry in Motion’ or other underground public art installations, the Newsfeeders provide a tangible, portable diversion. Printed in long, thin, receipt-like strands, the stories come from community contributors, as well as classic authors whose works are no longer copyrighted.