When was the last time you attended a public meeting about transportation? From potholes in your neighborhood, to long commutes on the way to work, to safety features on the road, public transportation directly affects everyone. However, changes to public transportation, like the building of roads and the installation of new safety feartures, do not receive adequate public attention. People are busy, and it’s hard to get busy people’s attention. Although some busy people might be interested in being a part of a transportation change, they simply miss early notifications concerning potential changes. Furthermore, the technologies used to reach the public have shifted in the past several decades, and this makes communication more challenging than ever.
Engaging communities, encouraging participation, and planning how to involve as many people as possible are important goals in a state that is growing as rapidly as Texas. The Annette Strauss Institute for Civic Life, The University of Texas at Austin Communication Studies Department, and the Texas Department of Transportation have partnered to create Team Engage. Team Engage identifes the best practices that encourage the public to become involved in transportation planning. Best practices will be examined in both Texas and the US. Team Engage uses organizational communication and technology expertise to dig deeply into the world of transportation. Team Engage will also explore ways to translate transportation engineering concepts and terms into the language of everyday people. And ultimately, the partnership will help transportation experts find innovative ways to create an on-going, understandable dialogue with our varied publics in the state of Texas.