Teresa Miró doesn't own a car. The ASU intermedia art graduate student's from Spain and says she's always been a proponent of public transit. But the transition from using the public bus system here versus her experiences in in other countries has been an eye-opening ordeal.
While adjusting to Phoenix, she says she noticed that some stops are inconveniently located or lack shelters, that times between pick-ups can really screw with her schedule, and because the Valley is so spread out and "built for cars," it's difficult for bus-riders to travel through it from city to city.
Miró began approaching other riders at bus stops and questioning them about their public transit experience to see if it was as daunting for them as it was for her. The result: a 22-page black and gray booklet titled "The Bus Project
," which she hopes will "give a face to the urban landscape."
During her research, Miró would approach subjects at bus stops and try to get a feel for the rider's story and emotional effects of the system.
These are opinions that Miró says are often overlooked or simply rounded up in percentages.
"I wanted to give them a voice somehow," she says. "Usually [their input] is not so much about their particular story, but to fill out a questionnaire and they might not have the chance to say, 'I had to change the place where I lived because of the bus system.' It's just a way to let them talk about what they really have to say."
After completing the book, she says the project has driven her to ask tougher questions about the effectiveness of the Valley's transit system.
"My intention wasn't to get close to the policy-making part, but now I'm more interested in that," she says. "In the beginning, it was just a platform for the stories, but now the stories represent something and they show gaps in the system and it makes something that's more political."
As a way to give the work back to those who understand the tribulations of the bus system, Miro leaves the free books at bus terminals and stops. The first phase of the project can be seen in its entirety on her blog
"The Bus Project" subjects Maria and Edgar
image courtesy of Teresa Miró
This is just the first step in giving Phoenix residents a voice in their public transit system, she says. After reviewing her text, Miró realized, as a spanish-speaker herself, she should create a booklet for spanish speakers as one of her future goals for the project.
"There are some issues that didn't get solved here," she says. "I'm also considering how to approach the policy-making side of this. It is something that has been growing by itself and beyond my expectations."