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Dots & Dashes

Dots & Dashes provides an opportunity for Delaware Valley residents and stakeholders to discuss and express their priorities for future investments in public transportation in a fun, hands-on game setting. Each group will end the game with a list and map of future agreed-upon investment priorities that, together with the results of other groups who play, will inform DVRPC's Connections 2035 Long Range Plan and other projects, including a new Regional Transit Vision plan.

How do I play Dots & Dashes?

Dots & Dashes is a unique communicative and consensus-building planning exercise. Participants are broken into groups of five or six. The task of each group is to agree on how to spend Dots & Dashes Dollars on transit projects in the Delaware Valley. Participants then affix game pieces ("dots" and "dashes") to identify preferred transit projects on a game board.

Throughout the game, participants must engage other members of their group in meaningful discussion to negotiate the group's transit priorities.

DVRPC & Public Participation in Transit Planning

Dots & Dashes reflects a method of public outreach which captures regional priorities, educates stakeholders regarding the tradeoffs required to compose a plan, and provides consensual input into the public transit planning process.

FTA's PTP Grant Program

Dots & Dashes was funded by a grant through the Federal Transit Administration (FTA)'s Public Transportation Participation (PTP) pilot program. The purpose of the PTP Program is to support the development of innovative approaches to improving public participation in transportation planning, with particular focus on public transportation.

History of Dots & Dashes

Dots & Dashes was intended to generate meaningful public and stakeholder outreach for DVRPC's regional transit planning priorities and long-range plan, and to do so in a manner that would avoid the public hearing/lecture method which had commonly characterized previous efforts. Two efforts in particular informed the development of Dots & Dashes, and contributed concepts that were incorporated into the Dots & Dashes framework.

Playing the Game

Dots & Dashes is a unique communicative and consensus-building planning exercise. Participants are broken into groups of five or six. The task of each group is to agree on how to spend Dots & Dashes Dollars on transit projects in the Delaware Valley. Participants then affix game pieces ("dots" and "dashes") to identify preferred transit projects on a game board.

Photos from Recent Events

The main public Dots & Dashes event was held at the Center City Loews Hotel in November 2007. A few photos from that event are presented here.

Where can I play Dots & Dashes?

Dots & Dashes is a significant component of public outreach related to DVRPC's long range planning efforts, and Commission staff is interested to get the game out to as many individuals as possible. If you are interested in having Dots & Dashes at your organization's next event, please contact Jane Meconi at the e-mail below.

Reinvestment vs. Expansion

The first key decision made by each group concerned the portion of their total budget of Dots & Dashes Dollars ($5 Billion) that they wished to spend on improvements to the existing system, with the remaining amount being available for system/network expansion. Results from this simple choice provide a measure of participants' prioritization of reinvestment versus new investment.

Expansion Priorities

Following the choice of priorities for improvements to the existing transit system, groups spent the remainder of their playing time choosing system or network expansion improvements, and assigning costs to them based on the Dots & Dashes cost framework.

System Improvement Priorities

Following the division of Dots & Dashes budgets between existing system and network expansion improvements, groups were asked to identify specific improvements to the existing transit system; these decisions were to reflect the changes they'd like to see made using the amount of Dots & Dashes Dollars they'd assigned for that purpose. Several examples were provided, without assigning cost values. Groups were then asked to identify up to three separate priorities, without ranking them in priority order.