CLOSED – ‘Human Transit’

THIS COMPETITION IS CLOSED. The winners were selected at random. They are ‘Pete’, who nominated Stony Point, and ‘David Walker’, who nominated Fairfield.


Thanks to NewSouth Books for making two copies of Jarrett Walker’s new book, Human Transit: How clearer thinking about public transit can enrich our communities and our lives, available for readers of The Melbourne Urbanist.

Here’s the gist of it:

Public transit is a powerful tool for addressing a huge range of urban problems, including traffic congestion and economic development as well as climate change. But while many people support transit in the abstract, it’s often hard to channel that support into good transit investments.

Part of the problem is that transit debates attract many kinds of experts, who often talk past each other.

Ordinary people listen to a little of this and decide that transit is impossible to figure out.

Jarrett Walker believes that transit can be simple, if we focus first on the underlying geometry that all transit technologies share. In Human Transit, Walker supplies the basic tools, the critical questions, and the means to make smarter decisions about designing and implementing transit services.

Human Transit explains the fundamental geometry of transit that shapes successful systems; the process for fitting technology to a particular community; and the local choices that lead to transit-friendly development. Whether you are in the field or simply a concerned citizen, here is an accessible guide to achieving successful public transit that will enrich any community.

This is a major event for anyone with an interest in transport. Jarrett is known to many of us through his international consulting practice and through his famous transit blog, Human Transit (I think the word eponymous would fit in here nicely in relation to his book).

To be in the running to win, all you have to do is nominate your favourite rail station, tram stop or bus stop in Melbourne. Submit your entry below, using the Comment box at the bottom of this page. Entries close in two weeks at midday Saturday, 17 December 2011. One entry per person and I’ll only post within Australia. And the odds are much better than Crown!

As always, the quality of your nomination has absolutely no bearing whatsoever on whether or not you’ll win. The winner will be determined at random. However, explanation is encouraged and, while they’re not mandatory, so are wit and flair. If you’re really at a loss and don’t care what the world thinks of you, it’s acceptable to nominate “Darebin station, Hurstbridge line”.

You can order an advance copy of the book direct from NewSouth Books and get a 20% discount ($31.97 – that’s cheaper than Amazon even before taking postage into account!).

I’ll review the book when I can get a copy. In the meantime, here’s the full Introduction and here’s the Table of Contents:


1.  What Transit is, and Does

This chapter defines transit and its role in the city compared to other transport modes, and proposes the concept of personal mobility, a measurable freedom, as transit’s most fundamental product.

2.  What Makes Transit Useful?  Seven Demands and How Transit Serves Them

A customer’s expectations of transit can be boiled down to seven demands:

  1. It takes me where I want to go.
  2. It takes me when I want to go.
  3. It’s a good use of my time.
  4. It’s a good use of my money.
  5. It respects me.
  6. I can trust it.
  7. It gives me freedom to change my plans.

This chapter defines the main elements of the transit product (speed, frequency, span, reliability, etc.) and explains how each serves those various demands.

3.  Five Paths to Confusion

An introduction to five of the most common conceptual mistakes in transit planning: map-reading errors, motorist’s errors, box errors, polarization errors, and choosing words with unfortunate connotations.

4.  Lines, Loops, and Longing

The most basic geometric concepts in transit.  Should transit lines be I-shaped or U-shaped?  And why do people get so excited about loops?

5.  Touching the City: Stops and Stations

How far apart should transit stops be?   This chapter explores why this technical-sounding question is fundamental to almost everything you care about.

6.  Peak or All Day?

Does your transit agency’s thinking begin with the peak commute, or with an all-day pattern of service?  Why this matters.

7.  Frequency is Freedom

Frequency is oddly invisible to the non-rider, yet it’s sits at the core of almost all transit outcomes.  This chapter explores the urgent challenge of making frequency visible, in marketing, planning, and policy making.

8.  The Obstacle Course: Speed, Delay, and Reliability

Transit speed is mostly the absence of delay.  This chapter surveys the delay types, explains how planners address them, and how we might think more clearly about them in making policy.

9.  Density Distractions

This chapter confonts recent claims that development density is not as important to transit as we thought, and sorts through some of the confusing ways density can be measured.  Transit can do good work at many density levels, but density — properly measured — is still fundamental to transit outcomes.

10.  Ridership or Coverage:  The Challenge of Service Allocation

Every city or region has some areas where transit demand is high and others where it’s lower.  How can transit agencies reach consensus on how to apportion service among these areas?

11.  Can Fares be Fair?

An exploration of the hard choices around fares, and how smartcards are resolving some but heightening others.  Can fares be “fair”?  Are you sure you want them to be?

12.  Connections or Complexity?

Nobody likes to get off one transit vehicle and get on another — an act known as transferring, changing, or connecting.  This chapter explains why connections are inseparable from many other things we value, including frequency and simplicity.

13.  From Connections to Networks, to Places

If we accept the need for connections (also called transfers), what does this mean for design?  This chapter explores the common types of network structure that arise from this problem, and then considers how connection points can galvanize great urban places.

14.  Be on the Way!  Transit Implications of Location Choice

Whenever you choose a location, such as for your home or business, you largely determine what transit can do for you.  When cities and developers decide where to build things, they profoundly impact the potential for transit in the city as a whole.  This chapter explores how to make these decisions more consciously, as individuals, organizations, governments, and developers.  The physical layout of a community or region is an overwhelming factor in determining how relevant transit can be, so in that sense, this is the most important chapter in the book.

15.  On the Boulevard

The car-oriented suburban boulevard has much more transit potential than it seems.  This chapter explores the special role transit can play in healing the most troublesome features of fast boulevards, and re-creating them as humane and functional places.  The chapter ends with a vision of North America’s most boulevard-based city, Los Angeles, in a future when walking, cycling, and transit all have adequate space alongside the private car.  It’s a nice place, and one where you can be sure of getting to a meeting on time.

16.  Take the Long View

Clearly, the total planning problem requires synthesizing land planning and transport planning, including transit.  It’s pointless to try to tear down the walls that separate these professions from each other, because each has unique expertise that must be valued.  Instead, the key is to create clear conversations at the points where the professions intersect, and for each to provide just the right tools to support and inform the other’s work.

Epilogue: Geometry, Choices, Freedom

A summation of the book’s key themes.

Remember, you enter on this page, using Comment Box below.

56 Comments on “CLOSED – ‘Human Transit’”

  1. sten says:

    mordiallic. not many train stations in the world are a 3minute walk to a beach.

  2. Sid says:

    Southern Cross Station, because that’s my Welcome-To-Melbourne Station when I visit.

  3. Matthew says:

    I’ve already ordered a copy of the book, so don’t want to win but I’m going for Lilydale, as the start of the rail trail to Warburton and I walked that once and then got lost up in the Yarra State Forest for a few days more and it was bliss, except for the leeches.

  4. Will says:

    Newmarket on the Craigieburn line. Nice buildings, shops nearby.

  5. I helped illustrate the book by building up some maps of Sydney’s tangled web of bus routes. I’m hoping Jarrett sends me a signed copy. 😉


    Danny – I take it that you’re therefore not an entrant (you didn’t nominate a station or stop in Melbourne?) – Alan

  6. Deb says:

    Richmond station because you can see the mcg and nylex like Paul Kelly says!

  7. Nathan Alexander says:

    My immediate thought of a pleasurable public transport stop was Wahroonga Station on Sydney’s North Shore – flower bedecked and clearly cared for. Much as I tried to conjure up a pleasurable memory of a stop in Melbourne, my memories are all of places to be endured because of traffic noise, fumes, weather, and the tedium of waiting. I can’t claim to know all stops in Melbourne, but of those I do know, I rate Hawthorn Station most highly. It’s tucked down from Burwood Road so traffic noise is minimal, it has an outlook to the street to the east, it is both spacious and snug, and the buildings are unusual, consistent in form, interesting and well cared for.

  8. Terry says:

    Brighton Beach railway station, especially the view from the pedestrian bridge, where the siding/stabling roads seemingly stop short just shy of the water…
    I really liked North Melbourne station before they ‘did it up’
    I also like the tram stop at St Kilda junction for some reason!

  9. Rob Rein says:

    Flinders Street Station, it’s the face of Melbourne to me.

  10. Damio says:

    Stop 129 right near a coffee roaster’s, I can smell the delicious aroma whilst waiting for my tram – I hardly need to drink a coffee in the morning!

  11. strategicrobyn says:

    doncaster park and ride doncaster road. its the doncaster equivalent of a railway station

  12. Michael says:

    Flinders street station. I love the gritty old bits of the station. I hope they don’t renovate it because it’s guaranteed to be destroyed in the process. The art of beautiful building is long dead.

  13. Daniel says:

    Syndal Station, on the Glen Waverley line but more so for the memories of going into the city as a little kid. It’s the typical timber railway station, that’s far more function over form, with it’s surrounding carpark, and concrete ramps.

    But my favorite station of all would have to be Maryborough in Central Victoria. It’s an amazing example of what rail used to be in it’s heyday. Regional Victoria has some amazing rail stations dotted all over the place, some where there isn’t really a town anymore.

  14. Flinders St for me as well. Pleased to see they are spending some serious money on getting a workable design for future redevelopment. Michael – fingers crossed it isn’t destroyed and becomes a thriving space again. My daughter tells me she was very taken with Geelong station.

  15. Happy says:

    The Middle Park light rail stop, which incorporates the fabulous Mart130 cafe, or perhaps Windsor Station which – last time I was there – had a lovely cafe in the old station building. Hmmm … I’m detecting a theme here!

  16. matt dobson says:

    As in Werribee, Hoppers Crossing, Aircraft, Laverton. Surely there is no better or more ironic name for a railway station than….Aircraft.

  17. My local, Fairfield. There’s always friendly staff in the morning. Good coffee across the road for the mornings the train is delayed, shops are just nearby so getting some groceries before making the walk home is easy and of course FIDO always makes me smile, especially when he barks, meows or clucks like a chicken.

    • Oops, I forgot to mention that whilst I felt the need to mention Fairfield. I don’t actually want to enter the competition. I’ve already won one book from this great blog, and I’ve already ordered a copy of the book so it’d be better off in anothers hands.

  18. Noah says:

    Melbourne has many beautiful stations and so it is pretty hard to choose. I have just moved to fairfield and its great. Nice old station, close to shops and cafes.

  19. Ash says:

    Chadstone Shopping Centre bus interchange – Nice transit lounge, plenty of Smartbuses and other bus routes in all directions, and plenty of shopping and activity, and gets very crowded on weekends. (It’s going to be moved again, once the next Chadstone development is finished in 2015)

  20. Dave says:

    Toorak station, for the fact it’s really in Armadale and the myriad ways in which it could connect well with the nearby bus and tram routes, but doesn’t.
    And that it looks great (along with all the other heritage stations on the network).

    • Oh Footscray should get points for the “could work really well, but doesn’t with other modes” category as well. I always loved getting off the train there, checking at one stop when the bus to Highpoint was coming, then checking the other stop that also went to Highpoint to see the bus pulling away. That was always really helpful!

  21. Allan Hong says:

    Heidelberg train station – always bring back fond memories of seeing all these beautiful Heidelberg School paintings, my travel to the real Heidelberg in Germany years ago. Last but not least, always feel safe when I am standing on the platform waiting for an incoming train, thinking that if I suddenly feel sick or my wife is giving birth at any moment: the Austin Hospital and the co-located Mercy Hospital for Women are just opposite the station. Soon, there is the Olivia Newton-John Cancer Centre joining the health complex. See Heidelberg train station is both romantic and practical.

  22. jamie truong says:

    Box Hill ‘multi-modal interchange’. One of the rare centres in the middle ring suburbs that is served by tram, train and bus.

  23. Michael says:

    My favourite train station would have to be Parliament! Despite the crowding in the morning peak, I love the blue colours and the excessively long escalators!

  24. Catherine C says:

    I wish I could say the Airport – but of course we don’t have one there ‘yet!’ So I’ll go with Camberwell (plenty of express trains, safe atmosphere, attractive, good restaurant/shopping strip on the doorstep, 3 lines, premium station)

  25. Nic says:

    Right at this moment, the tram stop on Swanston Street opposite the library. For the amusement value provided by the referees, the opportunity to see the “sinking library” sculpture again, and the curiosity of observing how the dynamics of the shared cycle-path/tram-loading-zone unfolds.

  26. Pete says:

    Stony Point

    • Beatrice says:

      Yes! A few meters to the beach, fishing on the peir and catching the ferry to Cowes! Re-opened in the 80’s after a local campaign! Fabulous 🙂

  27. Adam Schembri says:

    I’m a Sydneysider originally, but I just moved to Melbourne from London in January, so every tram stop is still a fascinating novelty for me. In fact, as I don’t drive (age 46 and never had a licence), I value every single train, tram and bus stop in the city.

    • Alan Davies says:

      Great entry Adam – if winners were determined on content, you’d be a leading contender! However, you’ll have to settle for recognition because the winner is determined at random (still the odds are amazingly good so you could easily get up – about 13:1 at present).

  28. David Walker says:

    Fairfield has a lot to recommend it, as described by Julian above.

  29. Iain Lawrie says:

    Seaholme. A single platform shaded by big date palms. The heady mix of sea air mixed with petrochemichals keeps you alert while waiting for the Werribee.

  30. wilful says:

    Any, all and every recently installed superstop. Think of it from the perspective of the disabled. A massive positive change.

  31. URT says:

    The second stop on the number 8 tram route Toorak to Moreland stands out. It’s all of about 140 metres after the first stop, in one of the least densely populated parts of Melbourne.
    It’s a favourite – of a sort – it illustrates an important lesson about how PT should be designed.

  32. Jac says:

    Moonee Ponds Junction! So many buses, a couple of trams – SO MANY OPTIONS!

    (the only downside is it could be a little safer =p)

  33. Matthew says:

    Footscray Station – I love the fact that you are only a few footsteps away from a good bowl of pho when you arrive at this station

  34. Paul in Sydney says:

    Fairfield – Go Fido

  35. Krammer56 says:

    I’m for the Doncaster Park & Ride

    It shows what a combination of security (it’s staffed), reasonable faclities (shelter, toilets) and an excellent, frequent, fast bus service could do to transform transport in Melbourne’s suburbs.

    And all for a tiny fraction of the cost of a rail line to Doncaster as well!

  36. Malvern Station (my local) because like the other Edwardian brick stations on the Caulfield line it shows how you can have low cost and functional stations through good design – at grade access, easy ramps,passenger comfort and low construction costs. When you compare it to the monstrosity built at Westall with nearly 3 metres more clearance over the rails you realise how the Dept of Transport can waste over $100 million on a new platform and short section of triplified line

  37. Camille says:

    Stop 7 – Victoria Market.. it’s my last chance tram stop to decide whether I take the 57 or 59 home!

  38. Stuart says:

    Dennis. I love hearing the announcement for that one on the way home. I think there is some kind of pause at the end of the recording of the name that just makes it sound very awkward.

    Also there is a cat that I have seen there that apparently boards the train – lovable little fare evading scamp.

    Dennis Station cat is curled up on the platform, sleeping - was not at all interested in scratches.

  39. Aaron says:

    Heidelberg Station – its where I get off to go to garden at my friends house in Bulleen.

  40. mdonnellan63 says:

    Williamstown Station: I got marooned there with a broken bicycle the day after the line was Kennetted. Very pleased that it’s back in the system and I won’t get stuck again (unless it gets Baillieu’d).

  41. Flinders St Station is my favourite stop because it is “central”

  42. Carlo says:

    I always like Essendon Station as a kid because as a hub it worked very well, it had trains, busses and a tram nearby, yet it looked like a stately old building after the morning and afternoon rushes, there is also something quite mysterious about the wide old underpass and winding up the ramp to the platform above, less risk averse in those days I guess.

  43. Beatrice says:

    Bus stop : crn Glenhuntly and Ormond Rd Elwood, the Elsterwick to La Trobe uni blue or yellow bus, Ill fated to run along Punt Rd and therefore destined to never run on time during peak hour…
    Tram stop : Acland st, St Kilda – no 96 because of the bumble bee !
    Train st : Mt Waverley St., Glen Waverley line, conveniently located opposite the library thus ensuring travellers a nice clean toilet is available at the end of the trip.

  44. Chris G says:

    Parliament, Great architecture, the underground foyers don’t feel underground at all. Don’t change it, but maybe extend the pedestrian subways to cross Lonsdale and Bourke St.
    Designed by Peter McIntyre,
    Just compare it to Flagstaff and you will know what I mean.

  45. Steve says:

    Glenferrie – and indeed several stations around this one on the Belgrave/Lilydale line. Just love the redbrick buildings of old. Timeless, functional and beautiful.

  46. Dave Mack says:

    Yarraville Train Station – because its perfectly integrated into the surrounding village and bus interchange. The space around it is used very effectively making it the active heart of Yarraville Village

  47. Victoria Park – because I love the name!

  48. Albert Park stop – only a few minutes from the city, but less traffic and more trees.

  49. […] key book I’ll be reading over the holiday period is of course Jarrett Walker’s Human Transit, the subject of the recent book giveaway. My copies arrived and I’ve already started – looks […]

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