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:
- It takes me where I want to go.
- It takes me when I want to go.
- It’s a good use of my time.
- It’s a good use of my money.
- It respects me.
- I can trust it.
- 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.
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