Update on Human Transit, Revised Edition

First draft of the cover. Thoughts?

Whew! Last night I delivered the manuscript to Island Press for a Revised Edition of Human Transit.  It’s been a bigger project than I expected.  I started out thinking that I could just add some material and the rest would stand as it was, but as I got into it I saw more things that I could improve, and now it’s pretty substantially revised.  There’s nothing I would retract in the old version, of course.  Certainly, the geometry isn’t out of date.  But there are things I can say better now, so I do.

There are new chapters on planning for diversity, planning for access to opportunity, and network redesign, as well as new material on flexible transit (a.k.a demand-responsive transit or “microtransit”) and on Bus Rapid Transit.  And I’ve added some more pointed commentary about the challenge of sorting through technological claims that have been amplified by venture capital.

It should come out in February 2024.

Meanwhile, here’s the rough draft of the cover, based on a sketch by the architect Eric Orozco.  We were trying to capture the way that an abstract transit line turns into access which turns into human joy and possibility.  Let me know what you think.

And yes, now that that’s done I should be blogging more.

16 Responses to Update on Human Transit, Revised Edition

  1. Ben May 10, 2023 at 4:34 pm #

    Congrats, that must be a well-deserved relief! Looking forward to reading it. From a short distance the new cover is a bit hard to understand. Probably too abstract? Looks like the characters are fleeing from some kind of disaster. Or it’s a cartoon fish escaping from a river? A recent book cover that I really liked is Arbitrary Lines by M Nolan Gray. Very eye catching and instantly relatable to the premise of the book.

  2. RossB May 10, 2023 at 6:19 pm #

    Do you have a bigger image of the cover? It is rather small (210 X 315) even when you select it.

  3. Kyle May 10, 2023 at 8:55 pm #

    Feb can’t come soon enough!

  4. Heather Boyer May 11, 2023 at 4:21 am #

    It is a substantial revision! The official pub date is February 2024

  5. Fbfree May 11, 2023 at 5:29 am #

    On the cover,


    The concept reads well on multiple levels: highlighted ‘Human’, connecting abstract lines, and their harsh colours, to relatable outcomes, joy and freedom of the figures.

    The choice and balance of colours works, maybe with slight adjustments as the artwork is finalised. The scheme also not obviously associated with any given transit system I can think of.


    The intermediate destinations. I also see Ben’s fish. I have no idea what a hedgehog (left scene) has to do with transit.

  6. John D. May 11, 2023 at 8:34 am #

    Hello, I work at a smaller public library in the suburbs of a larger metro area. I’m planning on purchasing a copy of the revised edition when it comes out, but I’m wondering if you (or other readers here) can recommend other good books on transportation, housing & urban planning that would be suitable to add to a non-academic library? These are topics that my community is starting to debate, and I’d like to add resources to our collection to help provide more information.

    I’ve been reviewing our non-fiction collection, and have found that we don’t have much on offer that cover these subjects, and what we have is starting to get a little dated.


    • Jarrett May 11, 2023 at 2:41 pm #


      I suggest perusing the Island Press catalog at Island Press dot org. But definitely:

      Stephen Higashide, “Better Buses, Better Cities”
      Jeff Speck, “Walkable City” and “Walkable City Rules”
      Christof Spieler, “Trains, Buses, People.”
      Charles Marohn, “Confessions of a Recovering Engineer.”


      • Ilya Petoushkoff May 14, 2023 at 11:07 am #

        If I were to add one thing to this list, I would include one of the golden classics, ‘Transportation in Livable Cities’ by Vukan Vuchic.

  7. Dan May 11, 2023 at 2:02 pm #

    Congratulations! I am really looking forward to this.

  8. Ilya Petoushkoff May 14, 2023 at 11:10 am #

    Congratulations on the revised edition!

    • Mary A May 15, 2023 at 8:15 pm #

      I like the colors, I like that the bus seems to come from or bloom from the community. The people running seem scared or panicked, like they are so happy to be off the bus, probably not the emotion you want to invoke.

  9. Jonathan Hallam May 17, 2023 at 8:11 am #

    I’m afraid I don’t love the cover. There’s something a little bit ‘unsettling sea creature with fronds’ or ‘brocolli-esque frond growth’ about the vehicle and the cityscape+seaside branching off from it. Blue maybe feels a little cold given that the content is about the human potential and enjoyment good transit design unlocks.

    And as a more specific critique…
    1. Shows a transit vehicle bringing one person to one destination (looks like it might be a father coming home from work to a mother-with-child, which is not great from a diverse family/roles in family point of view, and also points towards transit=commuting which isn’t the message of the book.
    2. Nice job not showing the wheels (in line with the book’s message), but the length of the vehicle says train or tram anyway – maybe some tweek about the roofline, so it could show a bus or just the first carriage of a train?
    3. Shape of one line branching into two doesn’t really indicate ‘frequent grid’… having more might allow more passengers/destinations showing opportunity and joy? But this might make the cover too busy? ‘H’ and ‘T’ both form intersections of a kind, so maybe there is the possibility to play with integrating the title into a graphic?
    4. In the cityscape, the red transit line has little ‘station/stop’ markers to every door, which somewhat contrasts with the message about the utility of wider stop spacing.

    • Johnny May 20, 2023 at 10:16 pm #

      Branching is a common feature in many of Jarrett Walker’s redesigned networks. See for example routes 9 and 10 in the Galway draft new network. This is a good way to get high frequency where most people travel. When I see a redesigned network with no branches, I tend to get sceptical, such as Marseille’s planned network for 2025 ( https://marseille-ampm-network.latitude-cartagene.com/assets/carte/AMPM-concertation-bus-2025.jpg ), where there are no branching at all, despite having many branching routes in the current network ( https://api.rtm.fr/fiche-horaires/rtm_plan_reseau.pdf ). This is not how Jarrett Walker would do.

      • Jonathan Hallam May 27, 2023 at 1:33 pm #

        Ah, I am not against branches but rather had in mind that the frequent grid was a core concept and the cover doesn’t intuitively communicate that.

  10. Jack May 18, 2023 at 7:16 am #

    I loved the original book, and feel this update will be a positive thing for our industry.

    I unfortunately have to agree that I did not get what the picture was trying to show until it was explained. I thought maybe someone was running from something? That it was a transit line morphing into a transit vehicle, and that the blobs were destinations, was not clear to me. It’s also very possible I’m just not good at interpreting artwork.

  11. TransitDB May 18, 2023 at 9:51 pm #

    Congrats! The first edition has been given to new planners. Can’t wait to stock up on the new edition!