Documenting 24 Hours In The Lives Of Transportation Workers Across the Globe

The people who get us around our cities are often unheralded, but a new project is trying to show everyone what it’s like to be the people who drive our cities’ subways, buses, rickshaws, and everything in between.

Documenting 24 Hours In The Lives Of Transportation Workers Across the Globe
Driver via Shutterstock

What’s it like to be a trolley conductor in San Francisco? A taxi driver in New York City? How about a rickshaw driver in India? Lives in Transit, a series of 10 24-hour-long videos from the Global Lives Project–a nonprofit “video library of life experience”–wants to document 24 hours in the lives of transportation workers in ten countries around the world.


Founded by David Harris, a social change agent at the Institute for the Future, the Global Lives Project has already produced a series of 10 24-hour films and accompanying short videos documenting a day in the life of individuals across the planet. Those shorts, available here, focus on a wide range of subjects: a 13-year old girl in Malawi, a mother of three in Indonesia, a 57-year-old beekeeper in Serbia, a hip-hop musician in Brazil, and more.

This next set of 24-hour films is much more focused. The project’s Kickstarter page explains:

From bus fare collectors to flight attendants, mule packers to bicycle rickshaw drivers, we will faithfully capture 24 continuous hours of routines and rituals in the lives of 10 individuals instrumental in moving people and goods throughout our world.

This new series will stay true to Global Lives Project’s tenet of unfiltered access in the way that we follow participants, but it will be the first time we use a theme to juxtapose individuals with parallel circumstances, namely occupation, in order to highlight cross-cultural differences and universal similarities.

Now the Global Lives Project needs to raise enough cash from its Kickstarter campaign (goal: $25,000) by January 8 to make it happen. The project already has received $115,000 in matching grants from the National Endowment for the Arts. All told, Lives in Transit will bring together almost 100 filmmakers and artists to generate 240 hours of footage. The films will be uploaded to YouTube and the Internet Archive with Creative Commons licenses.

For a taste of what Lives in Transit will look like, check out this video of San Francisco cable car gripman James Bullock that inspired the series.

About the author

Ariel Schwartz is a Senior Editor at Co.Exist. She has contributed to SF Weekly, Popular Science, Inhabitat, Greenbiz, NBC Bay Area, GOOD Magazine and more.