Building a successful and attractive transit system takes more than drawing lines on a map and buying snazzy vehicles. In addition to the many technical issues, one of the most important factors is values. Who is the system for, and why will they use it?
International transportation consultant Jarrett Walker, who writes the blog Human Transit, has a new book by the same title about the values behind transit, transit's limits and opportunities, and why people do and don't ride.
Greater Greater Washington is cosponsoring an informal chat and question/answer session with Jarrett next Thursday, February 9th, at 6:30 pm. Jarrett is also giving 2 public lectures on Tuesday evening in Silver Spring and Thursday afternoon at the National Building Museum.
Our evening event will be at the American Public Transportation Association (APTA) offices at 1666 K Street NW, Suite 1100, starting at 6:30. Young Professionals in Transportation, Women's Transportation Seminar, the American Planning Association, and APTA are also cosponsoring the event.
Our event does require an RSVP. Additionally, there are a limited number of books available at a discounted rate. You can reserve one when you RSVP.
On Tuesday, February 7, the Montgomery County Planning Commission is hosting Jarrett as a part of their speaker series. The talk will start at 7:30 pm in the Planning Board auditorium at 8787 Georgia Avenue in Silver Spring.
On the 9th, Jarrett will speak at the National Building Museum from 12:30 to 1:30 pm. The National Building Museum is located downtown at 401 F Street NW. It may fill up so RSVP to reserve your space.
For those of you who live or work in the Baltimore area, Jarrett has also announced a lunchtime talk at Penn Station. It will run from noon until 1 pm on Tuesday the 7th.
All of the events are free.
Jarrett's book, like his blog, is full of insightful commentary. I was particularly interested in his discussion of the relationship between connections and frequency in enabling transit to be a more feasible mode. It was especially poignant for me, since the Metrobus and Prince George's County bus routes in Greenbelt were restructured around these principles just last year.
Prior to the change, we basically had a "direct service everywhere" design, which meant either long waits for the right bus or long rides on the wrong bus. Jarrett talks about how good design (both frequency and connections between routes) can mean that transferring might get you there more quickly and more reliably at the same cost to the agency. My experience on the ground backs that up, and the book explains why transit works that way.
Anyone who has ridden transit on a regular basis will appreciate the points Jarrett makes. Especially his matrix showing the seven demands of useful transit service. Transit designers must take these demands into consideration if they hope to compete for riders.