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Jarrett at HumanTransit.org
Portland, Oregon
Transit planning expert with humanities background. Author of HumanTransit.org
Interests: Cities, natural history, botany, gardening, literature, languages. What am I not interested in?
Recent Activity
Not from her extraordinary National Book Award acceptance speech (text, video), in which she challenged both the commodification of literature and the marginalization of science fiction, but for this [item 90]: We do have our nice Subaru, but we can’t drive it. I never could. I learned to drive in 1947 but didn’t get a license, for which I and all who know me are grateful. I’m one of those pedestrians who start to cross the street, scuttle back to the curb for no reason, then suddenly leap out in front of your car just as you get into the... Continue reading
Posted 2 days ago at Human Transit
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We don't make endorsements, but beware politicians' promises about individual bus routes. Melbourne transit guru Daniel Bowen confirms that nobody is threatening to cancel the 822. The other team's plan involves removing some twists and turns on neighborhood streets, so that the route runs faster and is useful to more people. As usual, that plan asks some people to walk further to a more useful service, as virtually any access-improving network design will do. Those changes are fair game for debate, but remember: If you want to "save" every existing bus route exactly as it is, forever, then you're against... Continue reading
Posted 3 days ago at Human Transit
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El Camino Real BRT Alignment Silicon Valley is easily viewed as a car-oriented place, where tech giants rule from business parks that are so transit-unfriendly that they have had to run their own bus systems to bring employees from afar. But one interesting transit project is moving forward: the El Camino BRT, a proposed rapid transit line connecting Palo Alto and central San Jose. El Camino Real ("the Royal Road") is a path defined by Spanish missionaries as they spread north through California. It lies close to the old railroad line now used by Caltrain, and the two facilities combined... Continue reading
Posted Nov 14, 2014 at Human Transit
From Streetsblog's Aaron Blalick in San Francisco: The latest of [San Francisco Municipal Transporation Authority]'’s efforts to speed up [major bus] lines to run into some neighborhood opposition involves its proposed replacement of stop signs with transit-priority traffic signals. Some Western Addition neighbors have protested a proposal to signalize five intersections on McAllister Street to speed up the 5-Fulton, one of the designated “Rapid” routes receiving upgrades under the Muni Forward program (also known as the Transit Effectiveness Project). Initially, the complaints were driven by fears that signals would bring dangerous speeding to McAllister. Muni planners responded by holding more... Continue reading
Posted Nov 10, 2014 at Human Transit
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Is transit headed for a collision with self-driving cars? David Z. Morris in Fortune writes about how anti-transit Republicans are using the prospect of self-driving cars to argue against transit investments. Alarmingly, he quotes nobody who can actually refute this argument, except in the fuzziest of terms. Here is the recommended response: We are currently in that phase of any new techno-thrill where promoters make grandiose claims about the obsolescence of everything that preceded them. Remember how the internet was going to abolish the workplace? In any case, technology never changes facts of geometry. However successful driverless cars become, transit... Continue reading
Posted Nov 4, 2014 at Human Transit
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(Updated with final version of map.) From Ilya Petoushkoff in Moscow, explaining this remarkably beautiful map (download this draft version here, or the final version here): Here I'd like you to see a beta-version of a result of a zillion-year struggle. Moscow finally is going to have a transit map with not only metro, but also regional rail and bus/trolleybus/tram connections between adjacent metro lines. From the beginning of 20th century and till nowadays there hasn't been any kind of common map. Presently we still have a metro-only map inside the whole metro system, and regional-rail-only map inside some 30-50... Continue reading
Posted Nov 3, 2014 at Human Transit
Trains would be just one layer of a comprehensive, multi-modal network that greatly enhances both neighborhood and regional accessibility for people all across the [Los Angeles] region. ... A singular focus on rail would divide the region into two: neighborhoods with rail and neighborhoods without. Such a future would perpetuate income inequality as housing costs rise near stations and station areas would be choked with traffic congestion. ... Getting our existing buses out of traffic is the quickest, most cost-effective means to bring high-quality transit to the greatest number of Angelenos. Juan Matute, UCLA Institute of Transportation Studies from a... Continue reading
Posted Oct 31, 2014 at Human Transit
Ask: Who does? From Mark Szarkowski: A common transit agency response to these pleas for improved service ... is that the problem is out of their control. And in some cases, such as "bunching" due to traffic, they're right. So do you think irate passengers would get more mileage by directing their pleas to the third parties that actually are in a position to fix issues that are truly outside the transit agency's control - say local {transportation and public works departments] that could improve signal timing or implement [transit signal priority], bus lanes, bus bulbs, and so on? Do... Continue reading
Posted Oct 28, 2014 at Human Transit
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There is a lot of confusion out there about Park-and-Ride. Is it necessary for ridership? Are motorists entitled to it? Can it last forever? Let's start with the basic math. Really great transit generates high land value around stations. Free parking presumes low land value around stations. It's a contradiction. When a transit agency provides free or underpriced parking at a station where the land value signals that there is a higher use, it is subsidizing motorists in two ways. First, it is forcing a low-value land use to prevail over a high value land use, and second it is... Continue reading
Posted Oct 23, 2014 at Human Transit
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Yesterday morning, just before my public lecture, I did an interview with Steve Kraske of the local public radio station KCUR. If you're interested, you can find it here! Continue reading
Posted Oct 15, 2014 at Human Transit
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There should be nothing amazing about a new report on how easy it is for Americans to get to work on transit, but there is. Think about all the arguments we have about transit ... Does it fix congestion? Are streetcars better than buses? Is transit too fast? Should transit be cuter or sexier? How can we make transit attractive to "people like me"? – ... and ask: Why do we try to discuss these things in the absence of good analysis of the most basic question of all: Is transit useful? Does it help people get places in at... Continue reading
Posted Oct 7, 2014 at Human Transit
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In the six cases examined, we conducted off the record interviews with public officials, general managers, and thought leaders in each region. One of the consistent themes that emerged was that the bus systems and bus passengers were an afterthought. In every region – Chicago, New York, Boston, Minneapolis/St. Paul, Dallas/Ft. Worth, and the Bay Area – rail was the primary focus of virtually everyone we interviewed. We also found that maps of the regional transit networks tellingly either included a jumbled mess of bus routes behind a clean rail network, or ignored bus altogether. It is likely this bias... Continue reading
Posted Oct 7, 2014 at Human Transit
Nothing. In today's CityLab, Eric Jaffe expresses concern about the fact that support for public transit in many American cities is far exceeding its ridership. Every transit advocate knows this timeless Onion headline: "98 Percent Of U.S. Commuters Favor Public Transportation For Others." But the underlying truth that makes this line so funny also makes it a little concerning: enthusiasm for public transportation far, far outweighs the actual use of it. Last week, for instance, the American Public Transportation Association reported that 74 percent of people support more mass transit spending. But only 5 percent of commuters travel by mass... Continue reading
Posted Oct 3, 2014 at Human Transit
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A report from the TransitCenter has discovered something that's obvious to transit riders but not always to our urbanist elites: Transit succeeds when it is fast (in terms of total trip time and reliable). While we know this from the actual human behavior we call ridership, it's also nice to see it confirmed in people's conscious thoughts, in the form of surveys. Actual behavior is a better signal than surveys when the two contradict, but when behavior and surveys agree, the survey adds something useful: a sense that people are not only making certain choices, but are conscious of those... Continue reading
Posted Oct 2, 2014 at Human Transit
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That's David Alpert's frame in a piece in the Atlantic Citylab today (links added): Jaffe, Walker, Yglesias, and Capps have no duty to support Team Transit [sic!] no matter what. They should speak their minds. And anyone who supports mass transit expansion should want it to be as close to perfect as possible. I worry about streetcar criticism that states that a streetcar without every desirable feature is worse than nothing. But streetcars also have another set of opponents: Those who simply don’t want to fund any transit at all, regardless of its specifics. They seize on any flaw to... Continue reading
Posted Oct 1, 2014 at Human Transit
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We have ended up with one free seat in the Portland session of my Interactive Course in Transit Network Design, which is tomorrow and friday, 8:30 AM to 5 pm, downtown. The price is $395. If interested, contact me through email (button at right). Continue reading
Posted Oct 1, 2014 at Human Transit
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The Edmonton Journal's Elise Stolte has been doing an excellent series on the city's debate about the future of transit. Unlike many transit debates, this one is about a real issue that affects the entire city: how to balance the ridership goals of transit with the competing coverage goals, where "coverage" means "respond to every neighborhood's social-service needs and/or sense of entitlement to transit even if the result is predictably low-ridership service." This is the great inner conflict in transit planning: Do we respond to demand (ridership) or to needs and expectations (coverage)? When I briefed the Edmonton City Council... Continue reading
Posted Sep 26, 2014 at Human Transit
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Guardian journalist Bim Adewunmi recently traveled from London to New York and slammed the subway as compared to her beloved Underground. The blowback has been delightful. She seemed especially angry about the information system that isn't exactly what Transport for London would do. The city’s subway map is dense and needlessly complex. Where in London the Central line (red) is distinct from the Piccadilly (dark blue), which is markedly different from the Hammersmith and City line (pink), New York’s map has designated the same forest green to the 4, the 5 and the 6 lines. The B, D, F and... Continue reading
Posted Sep 25, 2014 at Human Transit
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Here's an interesting chart! It's from a study of commute times in Brazil, but there are enough world cities to make it interesting. Takeaways? 1. Viva Marchetti's constant! There are interesting academic debates around the edges, but the persistence of the 30-minute one-way commute, and especially the few cities with averages much less than that, echoes the observation of Marchetti and others that this seems to have been a tolerable daily travel time across both many centuries and many cultures. Average commute times in cities don't seem to get much below 30 minutes because most people don't seem to value... Continue reading
Posted Sep 25, 2014 at Human Transit
The publisher of Human Transit, Island Press, is holding a big sale on their titles through September 30, so if you've been putting off buying the book, now is a great time to pick up a copy. The hardback is marked down to $35.00. the paperback just $17.50! The sale is on at both IP's website and Amazon. If you decide to use Amazon, make sure to scroll down to the "Special Offers and Product Promotions" and click on "clip this coupon" to take 50% off. Continue reading
Posted Sep 23, 2014 at Human Transit
Are you an experienced public transit planner/engineer with 5+ years experience and a commitment to breaking through old paradigms and raising the standards of the profession? If so, my colleagues at MRCagney in Sydney may be looking for you. They are open to hiring from worldwide, so if you've ever dreamed of living in Australia, this may be your chance. Here's the listing. MRCagney is small and focused sustainable transport firm with offices in Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne, Auckland, and Singapore. Built around a group of former transit agency executives, it now does a range of work but is closely associated... Continue reading
Posted Sep 16, 2014 at Human Transit
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Last spring, Jarrett Walker + Associates was contracted by IndyGo, the transit agency serving Indianapolis and Marion County, to lead an update of their last Comprehensive Operation Assessment. This project involves consideration of the design, performance and mobility outcomes of IndyGo's existing network, followed by an extensive public engagement and redesign process. Next week, we will be on the ground in Indianapolis for a series of meetings, asking stakeholders and members of the public to share their views on the future of the network, including one very fundamental question: to what degree should IndyGo pursue each of the competing goals... Continue reading
Posted Sep 10, 2014 at Human Transit
Our friends at the Transit Center are supporting a new ioby project to crowd-source ideas about how to improve the experience of commuting. If you aren't familiar with ioby, they are basically a crowd-funding platform focused on small-scale neighborhood improvement projects. Have a look at the promo video for the project: Similar to better-known sites like Kickstarter and Indiegogo, ioby users are able to upload a project and create a funding goal which people who visit the page can contribute to. Examples of projects funded in this manner include community gardens, playgrounds, and environmental education programs, but now, ioby is... Continue reading
Posted Sep 10, 2014 at Human Transit
Ever heard this line? A debate in Google's home town, Mountain View south of San Francisco, has turned up this response to an obvious idea of building more housing close to the city's business-park district, so that fewer people have to drive long distances to get there. No, some council candidates say, because there's not enough transit there. Well, there's not enough transit there because there aren't enough people there, yet. Transit is easy to add in response to seriously transit-oriented development, but as long as you have a development pattern that is too low-density or single-use for transit, you've... Continue reading
Posted Sep 8, 2014 at Human Transit
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Planning to register for our Interactive Course in Transit Network Design, coming up in Portland October 2-3? We now have only 8 places left, and they will definitely sell out! So act soon to be sure of a place! For more information on the course, head over to the website: http://jarrettwalker.com/courses/ "Thank you for your interest in our Interactive Course in Transit Network Design! We are sad to report that we sold out before we received your registration. But wait! Don't go away! Please email Zach Tucker zach@jarrettwalker.net and indicate that you tried to register. If we get more than... Continue reading
Posted Sep 8, 2014 at Human Transit