Greater Vancouver’s transit agency TransLink has now published something called the Managing the Network Primer [Download PDF] and has a new webpage devoted to this and similar themes. It’s a simple explanation of why effective transit networks are designed a certain way. It pushes back on the confused and confusing notion that “buses are flexible compared to rail,” by emphasising the ways that all kinds of transit work or fail along the same geometric principles. It can also be used to explain to a reasonable person why the bus can’t just deviate to serve (or avoid) her house, business, or development project. I’m honored to have made substantial contributions to it, in the context of my ongoing work with TransLink.
Subliminally present in this document — and more explicit, I hope, in the next version — is that this is also a primer for transit-oriented land use planning. If you want good transit at your home or development or senior center or business park, you need to locate it where transit can be efficient, and therefore abundant. So by understanding what efficient transit looks like, you can get a better grasp of what truly transit-oriented development looks like.
So like my book, and like my course, this document will be interesting for transit geeks but is really meant for people in land use planning, development, architecture, and other related fields. These are the people who are deciding how effective transit can be in the future — every bit as much as transit planners are.
Once again, TransLink is being careful not to tell any city what it should do with its land use. Rather, this is part of a process of explaining the transit consequences of the choices a city might make.
If your regional transit agency is giving its city governments the impression that it’s telling them what to do, it may have something to learn from documents like this. Getting this message right is something I’ve worked on for a while, and it was the subject of my recent keynote at the Canadian Urban Transit Association annual conference. Let me know if I can help.