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An interesting point, wonderfully shown in the new children’s picture book Public Transportation: From the Tom Thumb Railroad to Hyperloop and Beyondfrom mobility influencer and futurist Paul Comfort.
As a CEO, VP, number one best-selling author, podcast host, influencer, keynote speaker and mobility futurist, children’s author was surely the next step for Paul.
A friend and collaborator of UITP, we were excited to hear all about his new picture book for children – and receive a sneak peek along the way!
So how do we show the importance of public transport to the next generation of would-be passengers? How do you explain the rich history of urban mobility in our cities that has brought us to this point?
With impressive graphics alongside fun facts, Paul’s book provides the journey public transport has made from horse-drawn carriages in the 1800s to steamships moving people and goods in the 1850s, through the launch of the world’s oldest subway system in London in 1853 and the first transcontinental railroad in 1869, all the way to the new mobility options with MaaS and applications being embraced today.
We sing about the wheels on the bus and mimic the choo-choo of trains before we can even fathom the benefits these offer to our health, cities, and the climate. This engaging manner of familiarising children with the history and future of mobility thrills us! And we must admit, we learned an exciting thing or two along the way. Hoping to see the coming generations on Public Transportation!
An approach of ‘show, don’t tell’ may be the best way to go for the next generation…
so UITP has decided to catch up with Paul to get the low-down on his new book and what he hopes it will inspire in readers young and old (with an emphasis on the young!) around the world.
My wife and I have six children of our own plus five grandchildren and I wanted a picture book about public transportation to share with the grandkids what “giggy” (the name my grandkids call me) did for a living and I could find none. There are lots of children’s books about big trucks and zoo animals but almost none for kids about buses and trains and what public transportation does.
So I set about as my “Covid lockdown” project to pen a fun, interesting look at the past, present and future of public transport and teamed with a great illustrator Sudeep KP to draw the fun, fanstastical vehicles of yore, plus ones just over the horizon like Hyperloop and Vertical Take Off and Landing Vehicles.
My hope is to capture the interest and imagination of children and have them appreciate public transportation and the role it has played in our world and that to come.
We designed fun, cartoon style but realistic images of each type of vehicle that has been used in public transportation in a way that captures the imagination of young readers and shows children riding them…
That by the 1950s, buses, trains and subways were the most popular method of moving masses of people around our cities, giving us the term ‘mass transport’ we use today!
I did a lot of research and fact checked myself numerous times and looked for fun facts and did you know? comments to add to the main storyline. Plus, I had some friends in the industry take a look and make suggestions along the way. I wanted a comprehensive look at the vehicles and types of mass transportation we use plus to introduce some new vocabulary words to young people along the way like catenary wires and pantographs.
After I developed the storyboard with the pictures that would illustrate the story – I spent the last several months working every weekend with my illustrator in India over Zoom. We designed fun, cartoon style but realistic images of each type of vehicle that has been used in public transportation in a way that captures the imagination of young readers and shows children riding them.
I think it’s important to generate enthusiasm among young people for using and potentially working in our public transportation field…I’d love to develop the story into a real cartoon or turn it into school curriculum…
The Great Blizzard of 1888 brought New York City the need for their first underground, launched in 1904 at nine miles long!
So far, my grandchildren and the children of colleagues have loved the book. I think the younger kids enjoy the pictures while the older ones appreciate the interesting tid-bits of info like the fact that our time zones used today were developed by the Railroads or how GPS satellites help transit systems track their vehicles.
Electric buses are growing in use in many cities…and they can hold enough energy to power a home for almost a month!
I think it’s important to generate enthusiasm among young people for using and potentially working in our public transportation field. That’s what I hope this book does. I’d love to develop the story into a real cartoon or turn it into school curriculum.
We are having the book translated into multiple languages including Spanish, Portuguese, Hindi (India), Chinese and Nepalese so far and hoping for a world-wide impact.
Here at UITP, we’re always working with many different names and faces from across the urban mobility spectrum, and bringing an extra spotlight to unique ideas such as Paul’s new children’s picture book is a pleasure for us.
Showing the immediate benefits, rich history and exciting future of our sector is all part of our daily routine…just liking taking public transport!
Thank you to Paul for his time and best of luck with the book when it’s released!