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Jarrett at
Portland, Oregon
Transit planning expert with humanities background. Author of
Interests: Cities, natural history, botany, gardening, literature, languages. What am I not interested in?
Recent Activity
Fifty percent of the workforce in the transit industry is set to retire or move on in the next five years so getting the word out that we want smart, driven, talented folks is critical for us. Mike Eshelman, Senior Planner, SamTrans In an interview with Hipmunk How to get into the profession? Here's my perennial advice. Continue reading
Posted 4 days ago at Human Transit
"Journey to work" mode share is a wretched way of assessing transit's relevance, and yet it's the one everyone uses. City Observatory is on it. Read the whole thing. Continue reading
Posted 5 days ago at Human Transit
It turns out there's a great video of my recent talk at the Congress for the New Urbanism conference in Dallas, including a great discussion with Mariia Zimmerman and Marcy McInelly. It's one of the better videos I've done, and if you have heard my talks in the past, you'll find this one pretty new. It's here. Continue reading
Posted May 15, 2015 at Human Transit
Today, Wake County (the Raleigh, North Carolina area) released our report outlining four possible directions that the community could take in defining a future transit network. Download it here. Happily, the local newspaper's coverage is clear and accurate. This begins a period of public discussion about the report and the choices it outlines. That discussion will give us direction on what form the final recommended plan should take. That plan, in turn, will form the basis for a proposed referendum on a sales tax increment to fund expanded transit. Actually, there are more than four possible futures, and the final... Continue reading
Posted May 13, 2015 at Human Transit
While I was at the CNU conference in Dallas, Charles Marohn of Strong Towns did a great podcast interview with me and James Llamas of TEI. We talked about the Houston network redesign, why it was needed, why it was hard, how we got it through to implementation, and what other cities can learn from it. It's here! Continue reading
Posted May 11, 2015 at Human Transit
On June 1 and 2 in Tampa, Florida, I'll be teaching another session of our popular Interactive Course in Transit Network Design. It's part of the Community Transportation Association of America conference, but you can attend the course without attending the conference. The price is $750 if you or your organization doesn't belong to CTAA, $650 if you do. Yes, this is higher than we charge when we teach it directly, but at this stage we don't have another direct offering until October in Portland. We designed this course to fill a gap in the training of most planning professionals.... Continue reading
Posted May 11, 2015 at Human Transit
... is here. It comes with a nice diagram you can put on your wall! Continue reading
Posted May 8, 2015 at Human Transit
This. Is. So. Important. We find that the size of the fixed-route bus system (measured as real per capita operating expenditures) is negatively related to employee turnover rates [for local employers]: An increase in bus systems’ per capita operating expenditures is associated with a decrease in employee turnover. Decreases in employee turnover represent cost savings to businesses by reducing the costs associated with training new workers and rebuilding firm-specific knowledge or better employee-employer matches. These results suggest that access to fixed-route bus transit should be a component of the economic development strategy for communities not only for the access to... Continue reading
Posted May 7, 2015 at Human Transit
For the next two weeks I'll be on a quick tour of Australia and New Zealand, with stops in Sydney, Brisbane, Auckland and Wellington. (You can track my movements in the little widget at right, if you scroll down a bit.). Unfortunately I have only one public event booked, which is in Sydney. It's an 11 AM event on Tuesday 12 May at the University of Sydney's Institute for Transport and Logistic Studies at their new home in the CBD. The topic? "Yes, You Can Erase Your Bus Network and Design a New One. Lessons from Houston, Auckland, and other... Continue reading
Posted May 7, 2015 at Human Transit
A transit planner in a suburban agency asks an eternal question: Do you have any examples of best practices in transit service in large business parks? I am looking for some creative solution, such as a transit to vanpool connection, or a site redesign for accessibility. If you have an opportunity, please share some examples, thoughts, etc.… Yes, everyone wants "creative" solutions in transit. But too often, "I want a creative solution!" means "You need to change the facts of math and geometry to suit my interests!" As with so many transit issues, the real answers start by understanding the... Continue reading
Posted May 5, 2015 at Human Transit
On the priorities for infrastructure in developing world "slums," the entry-level neighborhoods that tend to welcome new arrivals from the countryside: Sewage, garbage collection and paved roads are, for obvious reasons, vital, and can be provided only from outside. But even more important, in the well-informed view of slum-dwellers, are buses: affordable and regular bus service into the neighbourhood is often the key difference between a thriving enclave and a destitute ghetto. Doug Saunders, Arrival City: How the Largest Migration in History is Reshaping Our World. p 310. Continue reading
Posted May 3, 2015 at Human Transit
If you're at CNU today, please look up our panel "Learning the Language of Transit" at 3:45 PM today. Some of the material will be familiar to old fans, but I'm trying out a substantially new frame. Continue reading
Posted Apr 30, 2015 at Human Transit
Read Eric Jaffe's piece today on the effect of microtransit (UberPool, LyftLine, Bridj, Leap) on our cities. The question about all these private operators, seeking to create something between large-scale transit and the private car, is this: Are they going to work with high-capacity transit or try to destroy it? There are signs both ways. If microtransit co-ordinates with conventional big-vehicle transit, we get (a) lower overall Vehicle Miles Traveled, emissions, and congestion, and (b) stronger cases for transit-oriented land use and thus (c) better, more humane and inclusive cities. If they compete with it, drawing away customers from big... Continue reading
Posted Apr 28, 2015 at Human Transit
I'm writing this while our Interactive Course in Transit Network Design in Seattle goes on around me. About 25 people are huddled around maps having intensely animated conversations about what the best possible transit network would look like. Now and then someone comes up and asks a (good) question. This kind of workshop is not just "inexcusably fun," as one student called it, but it's also the best way to get a practical grasp of the transit tool. If you've actually tried designing a transit network, you have some knowledge of the material in your hands, not just in your... Continue reading
Posted Apr 17, 2015 at Human Transit
A few years ago we assisted San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency in rethinking how they talk about the various services they operate. Our key idea was to classify services by tiers of frequency, while also distinguishing, at the highest frequency only, between faster and slower services. In extensive workshops with staff, we helped the agency think through these categories and the names to be used for them. It's great to see the result coming out on the street. The old-fashioned term "limited," for example, been replaced by "Rapid," a new brand that emphasizes speed and reliability improvements as well as... Continue reading
Posted Apr 13, 2015 at Human Transit
When the physicist Richard Feynman found himself listening to a scientific talk in a field he didn't know well, he had a favorite question to ask the speaker: Can you give me a really simple example of what you're talking about? If the speaker couldn't oblige, Feynman got suspicious, and rightly so. Did this person really have something to say, or was this just fancy technical talk parading as scientific wisdom? ... Simplification is not just for beginners." Daniel C . Dennett Intuition Pumps and Other Tools for Thinking Intuition Pumps is best book on philosophy that I've read in... Continue reading
Posted Apr 13, 2015 at Human Transit
From John DeFazio. He's responding to this post, or maybe to this one. I have not edited for grammar or clarity. Jarrett, you write like a scholar, using you master's degrees to cleverly make readers feel sorry for Translink and vote yes, even if they are confused... you know the adage, "bullshit baffle brains", thats what you and your kind are doing... and how much are they paying you Jarrett? Nothing. there are many other ways that Translink can raise funding for transit and you bloody well know it... alternatively Translink should go public, make it competitive for private companies... Continue reading
Posted Apr 3, 2015 at Human Transit
We frequently fail to recognise that our own personal preferences are in most cases just that. And too often in urbanist discussions, that means white hipster preferences. As a result, we can end up doing a poor job of developing and selling pro-urban policies, even within the city. Aaron Renn, "In Praise of Boring Cities," Guardian Cities, 1 October 2014. Yes, Yes! Read the whole thing. Continue reading
Posted Mar 29, 2015 at Human Transit
A transit referendum underway in Metro Vancouver is asking voters to raise sales taxes to fund a huge range of transit improvements that are inevitably needed in such a dense and densifying region. Polls are suggesting that one of the most transit-dependent regions in North America is going to vote no. There is plenty of room for argument about whether sales taxes are too regressive, or whether transit measures should go to the voters while highway measures are considered essential Provincial spending. All those debates are happening. I also suggested, here, some principles for deciding how to vote on transit... Continue reading
Posted Mar 27, 2015 at Human Transit
My recent visit to London, the first in 19 years, gave me a new appreciation for the dangers of creating express trains to the airport that are useful only to high-paying travelers. We stayed at Paddington, on the north-west edge of the inner city, because I presumed that the Heathrow Express -- nonstop trains between Paddington and Heathrow Airport every 15-30 minutes -- would help us handle the awkward moves with luggage. It worked fine for that, but the fare was obscene (well over GBP 20 each way) and the trains were therefore nearly empty. I should have suspected this... Continue reading
Posted Mar 26, 2015 at Human Transit
Here's an opportunity perfect for someone who is interested in transit data and monitoring. Via Baltimore MTA, the region's transit agency: If you or someone you know likes data collection and analysis on a large scale and wants to put those skills to use in public transit, then there’s a new opportunity in the MTA’s Office of Service Development – The Ridership Data Technician (or RDT). Full details and to apply: MTA’s use of Automated Passenger Counters (APCs) continues to grow. We are just really getting started and are looking for an innovative and tech- and data-savvy person to... Continue reading
Posted Mar 19, 2015 at Human Transit
If you make buses wonderful, people will love buses, even to the point of writing and buying books about them ... (London Transport Museum, 14 March 2015) Continue reading
Posted Mar 18, 2015 at Human Transit
A recent post discussed Jeff Howard's hotels near transit maps suggested looking at Google Hotel Finder, a utility tucked away within Google Maps that purports to help you find a hotel based on travel time from some location. A user plops a pin on the map, and the tool draws isochrones based on drive, transit, and walk times, which supposedly show you the area of the city where hotels are within that travel time of your destination. So far, so good - I put a pin in downtown Portland, and Hotel Finder shows me a big blob in the center... Continue reading
Posted Mar 3, 2015 at Human Transit
Just as literature graduate students never admit that there are books they haven't read, we urbanist pundits aren't supposed to admit that there are cities we've never been to. In fact, we're so up to date in our lived experience that there are no great cities we've never been to recently. Tip: We're all faking it, mostly with Google Earth. So, to keep up my outsiderish reputation, I'd like to announce that I haven't been to London for 19 years, and I've never been to Dublin at all. Fortunately, that's changing this month. I'll be in London March 14-16 and... Continue reading
Posted Mar 2, 2015 at Human Transit
Here's news you can use, or at least news I can use as an absurdly frequent flyer. All of the standard travel shopping sites make it very hard to assess the transit options from a hotel's location. At most they have distances and sometimes car travel times. So I often spend too long doing research, and pay too much for a hotel close to my destination when I might easily have stayed further away more cheaply if I knew good transit was there. This, therefore, is a really good tool. In the case of Washington DC, it helps you see... Continue reading
Posted Feb 26, 2015 at Human Transit