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World’s Best Non-Institutional, Self-Funded Blog! How Nice …

best blog medalFeedspot has identified us as one of the world’s 100 best transit blogs, but more remarkably, we’re at #4 out of these 100, after the World Bank’s blog and two big industry new blogs, Mass Transit and METRO Magazines.  That means we can call ourselves the world’s best blog that’s not part of a big institution or journalistic enterprise, and that’s totally self-funded without advertising.  Yes, this blog is lightly associated with my (little) firm, but I still do almost all the writing, and it’s still largely my personal work.

There are lots of awards out there, but this feels like a real evaluation, based on a mixture of editorial quality and influence.

So, cool!  Thanks!  This is nice gesture!

How to Ask Me (or Any Expert) a Question

Every day, I get at least one email that looks more or less like this:

I hope this note finds you well and thanks for your time in advance. My name is X and I am studying/working at Y.  I’m writing something exploring the general transit topic of Z, and after browsing your blog I know you would be a great person to talk to. Is this something that you would be open to chatting about ?

I am a friendly but busy person who gets lots of these emails.  I enjoy talking about interesting issues with interesting people, and will spend some unpaid time doing that.

However, if you want a bit of that unpaid time, you need to offer me one of three things:

  1. Marketing.  You might be interested in having us do a study or a paid event.  Talking with you is part of my marketing budget, and I’m happy to do that.
  2. Influence.  You’re a journalist for a recognizable publication, or you want me involved in a major conference.  In that case, I’m trading my time for some influence in the larger conversation, which I’m usually happy to do.
  3. Intellectual Fun.  You can’t offer marketing or influence, but you want to have a conversation that’s interesting — to me and not just to you.  This can be fun and educational for both of us.

If you ask me a general question that requires me to explain things that I’ve explained in writing, and that I’ve said 1000 times in presentations, well, it’s interesting for you but not so much for me.   I repeat myself all the time on the job, and I’m happy to do it, but it’s how I spend my time off.

In short:

  1. Explore about what I’ve already said on your topic.  (Search the blog, or peruse the Basics posts.  or watch some videos you can watch, or read my book, whose introduction is here.)
  2. Form interesting thoughts about that.  Reasoned disagreements are especially welcome.
  3. Start a conversation with those thoughts.

That’s what I did when I was in your shoes, as a transit geek and advocate with no relevant connections, job, or influence.  It worked.

So if I didn’t respond to your email, this is probably why.  (Though sometimes, I admit, I’m just too busy.)

 

How International is Human Transit?

While I live in the US now, we’ve always had an international readership, and I’m happy to say that this is more true that ever, as you can see in the table below.  In per-capita readership over the last year, the US ranks fifth, after four other countries that I’ve worked in extensively: Iceland, New Zealand, Canada, and Australia.  (The last two are also countries I’ve lived in.)

New Zealand has led these rankings for years, but Iceland’s population is so small that it wasn’t hard for it to take first place once I started working there last year.

Among developing countries, Malaysia just grazes the top 20 and the highest-ranking is Trinidad and Tobago, though given the small population, that could have been one avid reader checking every post.  Hey, if you read this blog in Trinidad and Tobago, say hi!  I don’t know who you are yet!

Per Capita Readership of Human Transit Blog, year ending 28 March 2016

Annual Sessions Pop 1000s Sessions/1k pop
Iceland 604 333 1.814
New Zealand 6799 4,675 1.454
Canada 46792 36,048 1.298
Australia 28422 24,039 1.182
USA 211769 323,137 0.655
Singapore 3559 5,535 0.643
Finland 2325 5,491 0.423
Ireland 1471 4,635 0.317
UK 19485 65,097 0.299
Israel 2506 8,476 0.296
Sweden 2759 9,858 0.280
Hong Kong 1951 7,324 0.266
Trinidad/Tobago 260 1,350 0.193
Netherlands 3035 17,001 0.179
Switzerland 1180 8,306 0.142
Belgium 1570 11,312 0.139
France 6084 64,529 0.094
Germany 6934 81,459 0.085
Malaysia 2378 30,901 0.077
Spain 2112 46,423 0.045

Ready to Go — Without a Driver’s License

We’ve heard over the past few years that the driving boom is over in the US. People are driving less and a smaller portion of the population is choosing to have a driver’s license.

Michael Sivak and his colleagues at the University of Michigan recently released an update on the percentage of people with driver’s licenses in the US. In 2011, the original research found that the percentage of young people with a driver’s license decreased substantially between 1983 and 2008. What’s the latest on driver’s license trends? Continue Reading →

Do you want me involved in your city’s transit planning?

People often email or tweet to me asking me to "come help" their city.  I really appreciate the sentiment, but I'm not an action hero.  I'm a consultant, and consultants respond to some kind of invitation.

If your city or transit agency is undertaking a transit-related planning project and you'd like me to be involved, please:

  • Tell me about it.  It is extremely difficult for three-person firms like mine to find out about planning projects that could be coming up, because they are advertised in more places than we can possibly keep track of.  Don't assume I know what's coming down the line in your city.  Tell me, using the email button at right.
  • Consider inviting me to speak or run some kind of workshop.  Any organization can do this.  The cost is anywhere from $3000 to $9000 in North America, more overseas, depending mostly on your distance from Portland (Oregon) and what you want me to do.   (Our excellent Senior Associate, Michelle Poyourow, does them for somewhat less.)  This is especially helpful if a project is coming along later that you'd like us to have a shot at.  Many of our major projects, including those Auckland, Houston and Raleigh, were preceded by one or more events I did in that city.  

Our little firm is not networked through the usual industry channels.  We don't belong to the American Public Transit Association, for example, because its dues are simply prohibitive for firms our size.  So we rely on informal networks, social media, and word of mouth to connect us with people and places that could use our help.  So thank you, dear reader, for what you do!

we still exist! spread the word!

TypePad, our host, has been undergoing Distributed Denial of Service attacks that have interrupted this blog and many others.  A particularly ghastly side-effect of these attacks is that all domain names using TypePad (such as humantransit.org) are leading to an "Unknown Domain Name" error, giving the false impression that we're out of business.  TypePad writes on their blog:

While most blogs are available and the application is up, some mapped domains are showing a message that the domain is "unknown", but there is no problem with the domain itself. We're working to correct the error on our end.

For the record, we still exist, and our domain name hosting is current.  If anyone tells you we're out of business, please correct them!

 

meta: comments now require sign-in

This blog's comments have always been hugely valuable, and some magnificent conversations have occurred in comment strings.  I hate having to restrict them in any way (apart from the comment policy).  

Sadly, this blog is now experiencing a comment-spam attack, and the "captcha" tool for verifying commenters appears to be useless.  Our host, TypePad, can offer little assistance, and now and then makes things worse.

So two changes:

  • Comments have been closed on some older posts that were attracting heavy spam. 
  • As of now you will have to register via any of a range of online identities, including Twitter, Facebook, and so on to comment.

If that doesn't work, we will probably begin (with regret) closing comments on all but the most recent posts.

Please keep commenting!  Your comments have always been at least half the value of this blog.

agora, em português!

Cabec3a7alho-blogue1

I wouldn't have expected this, but the first foreign language into which my work is being translated is Portuguese!  Not my book yet, but select passages from this blog will be showing up as a "column" of mine called "Transporte Humano" on Rua da
Constituição
, which contains a mix of articles mostly on health, economics, and transport policy.  The editor, Gustavo M.S. Martins Coelho, is a medical doctor himself.  He is based in Oporto and writes mostly for a Portuguese audience, but I hope my "columns" will get attention in Brazil, where the issues are so massive and consequential for the world.

 

the new look at humantransit.org

 We're pleased to introduce the new "look" for Human Transit, including a more readable serif font (Georgia) and I hope a cleaner, more legible feel.  Big thanks to my associate Evan Landman for building and sculpting the design.

As with any change to a transit system, most comments are from existing users disoriented by change of any kind.  So: Calm down, everything you love is still here.  It's just moved around like this:

  • Most content that was in the right-hand columns of the old design is now in the new menu bar above.
  • The Links menu has subcategories, which will open to the right when you click on a menu item.
  • Categories referring to cities have now been separated from other categories.

One note: If you browse the category menu by just clicking and pulling your mouse down, the menu will seem to extend beyond the screen.  Instead, hold the menu by leaving your cursor on it, then use your arrow keys to move the scroll down in the window.   We're working on a better way to handle that.

Some older posts are likely to look messy for a while.  It will take Evan a few days to go through all 942 past posts and clean up anything that didn't translate cleanly.  Be patient and we'll get to them.

I'm sure I don't need to tell you to share your feedback, and any bugs, in the comments!  Please be constructive!

Here's one question that you can answer in comments.  Historically, this blog has used all-lower-case post titles, even for proper names.  Is this (a) a nicely distinguishing bit of "design" or (b) an irritating affectation or (c) you've never noticed or cared one way or the other.  Now everyone can make a one-letter comment!

catching up

I have every intention of returning to the major recent post driverless cars, which has a remarkably thoughtful comment thread, and to other deferred topics like the gondolas that are soon to liberate Austin.  Meanwhile, however, I have to make a living.  Consulting is always either slack or wildly-more-than-fulltime, and I'm now in one of the latter phases.  Please peruse the backlist, including the 2012 favorites.  There's something on this site that's as good as new.