Rebuilding Place in the Urban Space

"A community’s physical form, rather than its land uses, is its most intrinsic and enduring characteristic." [Katz, EPA] This blog focuses on place and placemaking and all that makes it work--historic preservation, urban design, transportation, asset-based community development, arts & cultural development, commercial district revitalization, tourism & destination development, and quality of life advocacy--along with doses of civic engagement and good governance watchdogging.

Tuesday, February 07, 2012

Human Transit book and talks by Jarrett Walker

Transit consultant (and blogger) Jarrett Walker has written a book, Human Transit: How Clearer Thinking about Public Transit Can Enrich Our Communities and Our Lives and he is speaking in DC and Baltimore this week.

For me, Jarrett's most provocative work is his focus on frequency of service--because frequency is the biggest factor influencing whether or not people will choose transit over other modes, and creating high frequency "subnetworks" within a metropolitan area's transit system to achieve high frequency, especially in the core of the system.

But the book is focused on how to think about transit more generally, in order to build a greater understanding and appreciation for what transit is supposed to do--how a community values transit and sets expectations for it--and how to best operate transit to achieve these intentions.

From the introduction to the book:

Many people are trying to make transit do things that are geometrically impossible, so it’s important to start by exploring how transit works in these terms before going on to the question of technology. ...

Technology choices do matter, but the fundamental geometry of transit is exactly the same for buses, trains, and ferries. If you jump too quickly to the technology choice question but get the geometry wrong, you’ll end up with a useless service no matter how attractive its technology is. ...

What’s more, the most basic features that determine whether transit can serve us well are not technology distinctions. Speed and reliability, for example, are mostly about what can get in the way of a transit service. Both buses and rail vehicles, for example, can be fast and reliable if they have an exclusive lane or track. Both can also be slow and unreliable if you put them in a congested lane with other traffic. Technology choice, by itself, rarely guarantees a successful service, and many of the most crucial choices are not about technology at all.


Tuesday, February 7
12 - 1 PM
Metro Gallery @ Penn Station, Baltimore
1700 N. Charles Street

Tuesday, February 7
7:30 PM
Montgomery County Planning Speaker Series
8787 Georgia Avenue, Silver Spring, Maryland

Thursday, February 9
12:30 - 1:30 PM
Smart Growth Speaker Series
National Building Museum
401 F Street NW, Washington, DC

Note that the Thursday day event is "sold out." Greater Greater Washington and others are also sponsoring an evening reception on Thursday.

Articles about the book:

-- "Don't Stop Now," Express (Washington, DC)
-- "System/Empathy in Transit," How we Drive blog by Tom Vanderbilt

Table of Contents
Chapter 1: What Transit Is, and Does
Chapter 2: What Makes Transit Useful? Seven Demands and How Transit Serves Them
Chapter 3: Five Paths to Confusion
Chapter 4: Lines, Loops, and Longing
Chapter 5: Touching the City: Stops and Stations
Chapter 6: Peak or All Day?
Chapter 7: Frequency is Freedom
Chapter 8: The Obstacle Course: Speed, Delay, and Reliability
Chapter 9: Density and Its Dangers
Chapter 10: Ridership or Coverage? The Challenge of Service Allocation
Chapter 11: Can Fares be Fair?
Chapter 12: Connections or Complexity?
Chapter 13: From Connections to Networks, to Places
Chapter 14: Be on the Way! Transit Implications of Location Choice
Chapter 15: On the Boulevard
Chapter 16: Take the Long View
Epilogue: Geometry, Choices, Freedom

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