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.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

More on transit's killer app: time

(Another point made by charlie in the argot of the social media generation, is that transit gets riders when it is time-efficient.)

One of the papers you can access at the Urban Studies Journal published by Sage Publications is

"What Really Matters for Increasing Transit Ridership: Understanding theDeterminants of Transit Ridership Demand in Broward County, Florida" by Gregory Thompson, Jeffrey Brown and Torsha Bhattacharya
Urban Stud 2012 49: 3327 originally published online 4 May 2012


In 2004, Broward County Transit, located in Broward County, Florida, had among
the highest ridership per capita and lowest cost per passenger kilometre of all-bus
systems in US metropolitan areas with between 1 million and 5 million people.
Broward County has few land use attributes thought necessary for transit success.
This (2000) study seeks to understand its performance despite its transit-unfriendly
urban environment by estimating a transit ridership demand model that differs
from most by including generalised price of transit travel from origin to destination.
The hypothesis, which the study confirms, is that price (time to reach employment)
is more important than land use variables for explaining transit patronage, at least
for a bus-only transit system with a large number of transit-dependent riders. The
results of this study give further empirical support to recent transit system initiatives
to focus more service on decentralised employment centres using multidestination
transit network structures.

For me the lesson is that the most important element (although tempered somewhat by price) in transit promotion is the time it takes to get to your destination. 

While the article says that this is more important than land use variables, recognize that these variables do in fact influence significant how efficient transit can be in getting from and to various destinations.

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At 7:54 AM, Anonymous charlie said...

A few pushbacks:

Locally, one of the (many) reasons for Circulator's success it it is new lines connecting people, rather than just doing older lines. Yes, branding and marketing is hard (and wasteful) but can be done.

I really get the sense from WMATA studies is they have very limited ideas on who their passengers are and what they want.

Finally, and building off your point about scooters, think matrix, not onion! Connivence is a big big factor as well. Build buses and trains for the rich, and everyone benefits. (and not the hell of air travel, where we make it so bad that frequent travelers will kill to get into business class).

I had drinks with a friend who accused me a being a bus rider a few years ago. He has sold his Porsche and now takes a commuter rail into work. We mostly talked about cars, and the Tigers (both our respective S.O. are from Michigan) and if you told him to go car free he'd call you a commie. However, it is happily car-lite.

At 10:28 AM, Blogger Richard Layman said...

I do think matrices by the way, on this too.

But originally when I came up with the mobility shed concept in 2006-7, I was thinking more concentrically. You're right that more dimensions have to be captured than can be in circles.

wrt the DC Circulator, I would call that more about intra-district mobility, sort of what I call the tertiary network, but that isn't really correct.

There is transit to the city from outside, there is transit within the city from far points, e.g., the 30s line goes from one end of the city to the other, and there is intra-district mobility.

Most transit agencies don't provide much in the way of intra-district mobility. One exception is Tempe AZ. Shuttles are another but typically they are a waste (except for employee shuttles and from universities like GU or JHU).

In Baltimore's case, all of MTA's lines are focused, using the old ways of the radial network, are getting people to and from the city-city center, but not so much about providing ways to get around within the city, especially in the core.

The Circulator there is kind of an equivalent of the "fareless square" concept from Portland, Seattle, or Pittsburgh--although I think in all instances this has been diminished as a result of budget problems.

Which is the same thing as intra-district mobility.

I don't think DC adequate markets-considers transit from this perspective, and WMATA definitely doesn't.

I guess another way to think about it is in terms of long haul vs. short haul trips and WMATA is focused on long haul.

Anyway, I joke that I might not be a great planner, but I am great at gap analysis.

Many of my ideas on "metropolitan" "transportation" and "mass transit planning" as encapsulated in the frequently cited here blog entries/presentation are derived from doing gap analysis of how transit works or doesn't in DC and the metropolitan area.

Also see some writings by Bob Firth from PGH. (I don't know him, but I have colleagues in PGH who do. I need to meet with him. Among other things, he designed PGH's wayfinding system.)

At 1:27 PM, Anonymous charlie said...

yep, WMATA doesn't think that way -- or coordinate with say bikeshare to move people from one corridor to another.

(And Alta isn't thinking of coordinating either)


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