Sydney: The Committee for Sydney Podcast

While I was in Sydney last week I didn’t have a public event, but I did do this podcast, interviewed by Committee for Sydney’s Eamon Waterford.  Not the best sound quality, but it might be interesting.  It’s here.

Auckland: Let’s Talk about Freedom on 22 November!

I’m in Sydney and Melbourne the next two weeks, but sadly have no public events booked.  After that, though, I’ll be in Auckland, New Zealand.

I’m really honored to be invited back to Auckland City Council’s Auckland Conversations series, 5:30-7:00 PM on 22 November.  I’ll talk about “Transport Planning as Freedom Planning.”  Sign up to attend here!  It looks like there will be a livestream here.

The City Council’s website also did a nice little interview of me.

The event will include a panel featuring Jessica Rose from Women in Urbanism Auckland, the City’s senior hearings advisor Eddie Tuiavii, Auckland Transport Manager of Strategic Projects Daniel Newcombe, and my old friend Ludo Campbell-Reid, the head of Auckland’s Design Office and its official Design Champion (great title!)

Auckland has just finished rolling out a new bus network that I helped design back in ’12, and is one of the most exciting cities anywhere for public transport and sustainable urbanism right now.  I’m looking forward to riding some buses there!

Welcome, Atlantic Readers

If you’ve just landed from my piece on “microtransit” at the Atlantic, welcome!  Here are a few key things that will help you understand where that piece was coming from:

And for the big picture of what I’m about, try the introduction to my book!

Job: Come Work for us! Transit Analyst Position. Apply before Nov 15!

You get to draw cool visualizations, and invent new ones!


Our firm has a fulltime opening for a transit analyst.  (Also, watch this space for a senior planner and project manager position to be posted soon!)

Here are the details:

Jarrett Walker and Associates is a consulting firm that helps communities think about public transit planning issues, especially the design and redesign of bus networks. The firm was initially built around Jarrett Walker’s book Human Transit and his 25 years of experience in the field. Today, our professional staff of nine leads planning projects across North America, with an overseas practice including Europe, Russia, and Australia / New Zealand.

You can learn about us at our website (jarrettwalker.com) and at Jarrett’s blog (HumanTransit.org). For a sense of our basic approach to transit planning, see the introduction to Jarrett’s book Human Transit, which is available online. For a typical report of ours, showing some of the analysis we do, see here.

We are seeking a transit analyst based in Portland, Oregon, or Arlington (Crystal City), Virginia.  The position offers the potential to grow a career in transit planning. As a small firm, we can promote staff in response to skill and achievement, without waiting for a more senior position to become vacant.  Everyone pitches in at many different levels, and there are many opportunities to learn on the job.

Duties include a wide range of data analysis and mapping tasks associated with public transit planning.

Required Skills and Experience

For this position, the following are requirements. Please respond only if you offer all of the following:

  • At least two years of professional experience using the skills listed in this section, OR formal training in these skills (such as at a college or university). Directly-applicable coursework is valuable but not essential.
  • Fluency in spoken English and proficiency at writing in English. In particular, an ability to explain analytic ideas clearly.
  • Understanding of basic statistics and experience with analysis and visualization of quantitative and statistical information.
  • Experience in spatial data analysis (GIS).
  • Experience working in Adobe Illustrator.
  • Experience in cartography, evidenced in at least one mapping sample that is clear, accurate, and visually appealing.
  • Availability to start full-time work in Portland or Arlington on before the first week of January, 2019, at least 32 hours per week.
  • Legal ability to work in the US.

Other Desired Skills and Experience

The following are desirable but not essential.  Candidates with the required skills listed above but none or few of these desired skills are still encouraged to apply.

If you have any of the following skills, please describe them in your application

  • Experience with public transit issues.
  • Experience using analysis programming languages (such as R).
  • Experience with qGIS, Remix or InDesign software.
  • Experience in advanced database analysis. (Postgres/PostGIS, MySQL, etc)
  • Expertise with transit-focused routing software, such as OpenTripPlanner.
  • Experience describing issues from multiple points of view, including the perspectives of different types of people, and different professions.
  • Graduate degree in urban planning, transportation, or a related field.
  • Foreign language ability. Spanish is especially useful but other language skills are valued as well.
  • Experience working with minority and disadvantaged communities.
  • Experience managing small teams.
  • Experience and comfort in public speaking.

Compensation, Benefits and Place of Work

Compensation will depend on skills, but will start in the range of $25-32/hour depending on skills and experience.  Raises of over 10% in the first year are typical for excellent work.  Our benefits program includes medical, dental, and disability insurance; a 401(k) program; subsidized transit passes; paid sick leave; and paid time off.

This position will require working out of either our Portland, Oregon, office or our Arlington, Virginia, office. JWA does allow employees to set work schedules that include working from home or other locations.  This position requires travel, to work with clients directly, at least a few times per year.

How to Apply

To apply, please send the following materials to hiring@jarrettwalker.com .

  • 1-page cover letter, explaining your interest in the position.
  • 1- or 2-page resume, describing your relevant experience and skills.
  • Links or electronic files for up to three (3) samples of your work. If possible, please include a map, a piece of writing, and a demonstration ofa spatial analysis. (A single sample may satisfy more than one of these requests.)
  • Contact information for 1 to 3 references who can attest to your experience with the skills listed above.
  • Please do not include any information about your prior compensation.

We will be redacting from your materials any explicit information about your name, race, gender, or sex.

Diversity and Inclusion

JWA follows an equal opportunity employment policy and employs personnel without regard to race, creed, color, ethnicity, national origin, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender expression, age, physical or mental ability, veteran status, military obligations, and marital status.

This policy also applies to management of staff with regards to internal promotions, training, opportunities for advancement, and terminations. It also applies to our interactions with outside vendors, subcontractors and the general public. 

Timeline

The deadline for applying is 11:00 pm Pacific Standard Time on Thursday, November 15th. Submitting earlier is advantageous as we will review applications as we receive them.

We will ask a select group of applicants to perform a simple analysis and mapmaking test on their own, and then to join us for an interview. The test will be assigned on November 20 and due on November 27. We wish to hold interviews (in person or by phone/web) on November 29 or 30.

Thank you for reviewing this listing. Please share it with others you know who might be interested. We look forward to hearing from you.

 

Come Work With Us! Apply by Nov 15.

You get to draw cool images like these, and invent other kinds that nobody has thought of yet.


Our firm has a fulltime opening for a transit analyst.  (Also, watch this space for a senior planner and project manager position to be posted soon!)

Here are the details:

Jarrett Walker and Associates is a consulting firm that helps communities think about public transit planning issues, especially the design and redesign of bus networks. The firm was initially built around Jarrett Walker’s book Human Transit and his 25 years of experience in the field. Today, our professional staff of nine leads planning projects across North America, with an overseas practice including Europe, Russia, and Australia / New Zealand.

You can learn about us at our website (jarrettwalker.com) and at Jarrett’s blog (HumanTransit.org). For a sense of our basic approach to transit planning, see the introduction to Jarrett’s book Human Transit, which is available online. For a typical report of ours, showing some of the analysis we do, see here.

We are seeking a transit analyst based in Portland, Oregon, or Arlington (Crystal City), Virginia.  The position offers the potential to grow a career in transit planning. As a small firm, we can promote staff in response to skill and achievement, without waiting for a more senior position to become vacant.  Everyone pitches in at many different levels, and there are many opportunities to learn on the job.

Duties include a wide range of data analysis and mapping tasks associated with public transit planning.

Required Skills and Experience

For this position, the following are requirements. Please respond only if you offer all of the following:

  • At least two years of professional experience using the skills listed in this section, OR formal training in these skills (such as at a college or university). Directly-applicable coursework is valuable but not essential.
  • Fluency in spoken English and proficiency at writing in English. In particular, an ability to explain analytic ideas clearly.
  • Understanding of basic statistics and experience with analysis and visualization of quantitative and statistical information.
  • Experience in spatial data analysis (GIS).
  • Experience working in Adobe Illustrator.
  • Experience in cartography, evidenced in at least one mapping sample that is clear, accurate, and visually appealing.
  • Availability to start full-time work in Portland or Arlington on before the first week of January, 2019, at least 32 hours per week.
  • Legal ability to work in the US.

Other Desired Skills and Experience

The following are desirable but not essential.  Candidates with the required skills listed above but none or few of these desired skills are still encouraged to apply.

If you have any of the following skills, please describe them in your application

  • Experience with public transit issues.
  • Experience using analysis programming languages (such as R).
  • Experience with qGIS, Remix or InDesign software.
  • Experience in advanced database analysis. (Postgres/PostGIS, MySQL, etc)
  • Expertise with transit-focused routing software, such as OpenTripPlanner.
  • Experience describing issues from multiple points of view, including the perspectives of different types of people, and different professions.
  • Graduate degree in urban planning, transportation, or a related field.
  • Foreign language ability. Spanish is especially useful but other language skills are valued as well.
  • Experience working with minority and disadvantaged communities.
  • Experience managing small teams.
  • Experience and comfort in public speaking.

Compensation, Benefits and Place of Work

Compensation will depend on skills, but will start in the range of $25-32/hour depending on skills and experience.  Raises of over 10% in the first year are typical for excellent work.  Our benefits program includes medical, dental, and disability insurance; a 401(k) program; subsidized transit passes; paid sick leave; and paid time off.

This position will require working out of either our Portland, Oregon, office or our Arlington, Virginia, office. JWA does allow employees to set work schedules that include working from home or other locations.  This position requires travel, to work with clients directly, at least a few times per year.

How to Apply

To apply, please send the following materials to hiring@jarrettwalker.com .

  • 1-page cover letter, explaining your interest in the position.
  • 1- or 2-page resume, describing your relevant experience and skills.
  • Links or electronic files for up to three (3) samples of your work. If possible, please include a map, a piece of writing, and a demonstration ofa spatial analysis. (A single sample may satisfy more than one of these requests.)
  • Contact information for 1 to 3 references who can attest to your experience with the skills listed above.
  • Please do not include any information about your prior compensation.

We will be redacting from your materials any explicit information about your name, race, gender, or sex.

Diversity and Inclusion

JWA follows an equal opportunity employment policy and employs personnel without regard to race, creed, color, ethnicity, national origin, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender expression, age, physical or mental ability, veteran status, military obligations, and marital status.

This policy also applies to management of staff with regards to internal promotions, training, opportunities for advancement, and terminations. It also applies to our interactions with outside vendors, subcontractors and the general public. 

Timeline

The deadline for applying is 11:00 pm Pacific Standard Time on Thursday, November 15th. Submitting earlier is advantageous as we will review applications as we receive them.

We will ask a select group of applicants to perform a simple analysis and mapmaking test on their own, and then to join us for an interview. The test will be assigned on November 20 and due on November 27. We wish to hold interviews (in person or by phone/web) on November 29 or 30.

Thank you for reviewing this listing. Please share it with others you know who might be interested. We look forward to hearing from you.

 

My Debate with Randal O’Toole: Video

It was fun to finally meet famous anti-transit and anti-planning writer Randal O’Toole, and spar politely with him in a Washington DC event sponsored by the Cato Institute.

We inevitably talked past each other a bit, but it was a great session.  I only wish there had been more hard questions from libertarians.  Here’s the video.  You can also download a podcast here.

Wellington: Notes on that Newsroom NZ Piece (updated)

According to Newsroom NZ’s Simon Louisson, I am “the US Consultant behind the Wellington bus nightmare.”  Wellington, New Zealand is having some problems with recent bus service changes.  I have had no role in Wellington for the last six years, and did not even know the service changes were happening until I read about them in the media, but I, being a foreigner, must be to blame!

Jarrett Walker, the US consultant that has united Wellingtonians in their loathing for the chaotic new bus network, has also redesigned Dublin’s network and has met an even more rigorous negative response.

The entire article is false and defamatory, so if you read it, please also read this.

Through my employer at the time, the Australian firm MRCagney, I did a project for the Greater Wellington Regional Council on the design of the bus network in Wellington (the city only).  This work was mostly in 2011, ending in early ’12.  My role ended with the completion of the draft network plan.  I had no role in how the plan was presented to the public, and when that didn’t go well in 2012, I assumed it was dead.  That is always a possible and valid outcome of a public consultation process.

This year, a somewhat similar plan was implemented without my knowledge and involvement.  The implementation has not gone well, for a variety of reasons, most of them not related to the network design.  One of the big ones was a decision to switch operating companies at the same time in a way that changed the drivers’ working conditions, something I always advise against.

At it happens, my role in Wellington was exactly the same as my role in the Auckland redesign, which has been rolled out over the last several years to great success.  In Auckland, too, I led the original design process six years ago, then had no further role except to offer encouragement.

But no facts will prevent Newsroom NZ from constructing me as a cartoon villain, through an astonishing series of blatant falsehoods about who I am and what I believe.

Jarrett Walker, head of JWA, is one of America’s foremost advocates of public transport over cars, but he sees the intense reactions of Wellingtonians and Dubliners as a welcome part of the process. His stance opposing ride-sharing has led Tesla manufacturer Elon Musk to call him “a sanctimonious idiot”.

My exchange with Elon Musk had nothing to do with ride-sharing.  It was about Musk’s insulting and ignorant comments about public transport which I identified as an example of elite projection. And while it’s true that I anticipate negative feedback on my plans, that doesn’t mean my goal is to make people upset, as he seems to imply here.  All I have said, in many ways, is what every politician knows: Changing anything will upset some people.

In paragraph after paragraph, Mr Louisson wanders around the internet finding things I wrote that sound vaguely incriminating to him, and uses these to construct false descriptions of my views:

Walker takes a very binary view of change. In his blog he says cities should either totally revamp a network or leave it as it is.

That appears to be a perversion of this post, which points out that network plans have a degree of interdependence that limits how much they can be revised without falling apart.  People who need me to be a villain imagine me saying “my way or the highway,” which is nonsense.  Plans get revised a lot through public consultation, and that’s a good thing.

And anyone who knows me will burst out laughing at this:

His company, Jarrett Walker [and] Associates, is very comfortable with the neo-liberal mantra of user-pays, and a strong commercial imperative underlies much of its design work.

Bonus points if you can figure out what text of mine was misread to fabricate this, because I can’t think of one.  I have always advocated heavy state subsidy of public transport.  As for commercial, that’s a confusing term that I never use myself, because it gives the impression that the only reason to serve lots of people is greed.  (Tip: Sometimes you do it because you want to improve lots of people’s lives.)  And even so, of course, I don’t bring an imperative to carry lots of people, because I encourage each city to think about the ridership-coverage tradeoff.

Mr Louisson formed all these insights without interviewing me, but you won’t find out why unless you get to paragraph 28:

Asked to comment on the implementation of the Wellington redesign, Walker seemed at pains to distance himself, saying in an email, “Unfortunately, I have not had any role in Wellington since 2012, and have not had time to study recent events there closely enough to have an opinion.”

While JWA’s work had involved developing a network redesign proposal, “I had no role in the public consultation at that time or in anything that has occurred since.”

My quoted words are indeed the only words I sent to Mr Louisson.  I was trying to establish that it would not be interesting to interview me, because I could tell him nothing about what had happened to transit in his city in the last six years.

Does this make me “behind” a revised plan, implemented without my involvement or even my knowledge six years later?  And does my unwillingness to comment on something I know nothing about license a reporter to just make up stories about who I am and what I believe?

Remember, if you don’t want your name dragged through the dirt in the media, it’s an easy thing to avoid:  Say nothing.  Do nothing.  Propose nothing.  Change nothing.

That’s why nothing gets done.

Auckland: The New Bus Network is Complete!

For the last three years, Auckland, New Zealand, has been rolling out a new bus network in different parts of the city.  Sunday, the final portion, the North Shore, got its new network, so the entire effort is complete.  Bravo!

I worked on the original design back in 2012 (with colleagues at MRCagney‘s amazing New Zealand office) and first explained it here.   While public comments have led to revisions and improvements, the most important layer, the citywide frequent network, is almost exactly what we designed.

A 2011 sketch of what the all-day high-frequency network would look like when complete. (In 2011, only a tiny part of central Auckland had frequent service all day.)    (MRCagney)

Even more important than the network are the principles, which Auckland Transport explains here. We figured out these principles at the beginning of the process, and they should sound familiar to anyone who knows my work.  For example, this image still appears in most of my firm’s reports, showing two ways to serve an abstract city consisting of three residential areas (top) and three destination areas:

[The idea, explained fully here, is that in this simple fictional city, if you run three routes instead of nine, you can afford to run them three times as often, which means that the average wait is only 1/3 of what it was before.  Even if you have to change buses in the new network, which means you make this short wait twice, you’re still waiting only 2/3 as much as you did before (1/3 at the start of your trip, and 1/3 for the connection).  Hence the counterintuitive fact: a network that makes you change buses gets you there sooner.   Such a network is also simpler, three routes instead of nine in this case, with buses coming so often that you don’t need at timetable.]

An important complement to the bus network redesign has been a major increase in frequency on the city’s four commuter rail lines, which enabled us to offer outlying areas frequent connections to the rail line instead of a long bus route competing with it.  Now, the New Zealand government has funded a huge project to extend this network underground through the city centre, so it will function like a proper subway system.[1]  This will further strengthen bus lines connecting with it and further reduce the need for lines running parallel.

Each phase of the network has triggered gains in patronage — increases in total journeys, not just passenger boardings — so all that new frequency is clearly attracting new riders.

Many people ask me about phasing.  Does a new bus network have to be implemented all at once?  The answer in many cities, including Houston and Dublin, is yes: The geography of the city is so interconnected and interdependent that trying to implement a network in pieces is just too much work. The interim phase in which the network is partly new and partly old becomes a huge network design challenge in itself, as well as a challenge for communications and operations.

Auckland was an exception, though, because of the city’s shape.  The city is so riven by bodies of water that it functions almost like an archipelago.  The narrow points of connection between areas make those areas relatively easy to separate.  (This is why New York City, for example, can reasonably do separate phases for Staten Island, Manhattan, and the Bronx, although Brooklyn and Queens are inseparable.)

I’ve been back to Auckland several times since the network began rolling out, and it’s great to see this great Pacific city becoming more and more oriented toward great public transport.  I’ll be back there in late November, to speak at an Auckland Conversations event, and look forward to getting places sooner on the new frequent network.

Congratulations to everyone at Auckland Transport and the City for this great milestone.  The plan had many important authors and advocates, but if I had to call out one it would certainly be Anthony Cross, the tireless head of bus planning who conceived this project and pushed it through, in a struggle of many years.  I hope he’s happy today.

 

 

 

 

[1]  North Americans are encouraged to make wistful comparisons to the eternally-deferred San Francisco Caltrain downtown extension and New York Gateway project.  Further cause for antipodean triumphalism: similar projects are well-advanced in both Melbourne and Brisbane.

Early Positive News from Richmond, Virginia Redesign

by Scudder Wagg

It’s been nearly three months since the launch of the Pulse Bus Rapid Transit line, and the bus network we helped design, for the City of Richmond and its transit agency.

The early news looks positive for ridership. For some context, the redesigned network was intended to shift the balance of the network from about 50% ridership focus to about 70% ridership focus.

Prior to the launch of the new network, weekly ridership was averaging about 141,000. The first week of the new network saw huge ridership, 226,000 for the week, but that was driven by free rides. Immediately after the launch, ridership remained near or above the pre-launch ridership levels (if you ignore the July 4 holiday week). And since August, ridership has climbed to about 157,000 per week, an 11% gain.

Any gain at this point is good news.  It’s normal for there to be a slight dip in ridership just after implementation, as people take time to adjust to the new network, and for ridership to then grow gradually over two to three years.

Some of this gain is attributable to the new partnership with Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU). VCU has partnered with the transit agency by investing $1.2 million per year in exchange for transit passes for all students, faculty, and staff. VCU was drawn to this partnership in part by the obvious value that the new BRT and Route 5 (part of our network design) provided to the University. And its willingness to invest in the service is a good sign of the renewed confidence that many have in the usefulness of transit service in Richmond.

That confidence is reinforced by the expansion of service that happened this past weekend in adjacent Henrico County. The County decided this past spring to add evening and weekend service on three routes and extend service to Short Pump, the largest suburban retail and jobs center in the region. That expansion launched on September 16.

More time and data will help make clear how much ridership growth is attributable to network design and how much is attributable to other factors. But the early signs are positive, and we hope they continue in that direction and spur additional improvements in transit for Richmond.

 

Scudder Wagg, who played a central role in the Richmond project, manages the US East Coast practice for Jarrett Walker + Associates.