Since 2009 I’ve been writing articles on how to understand public transit and make it better. You don’t want to read all 1200+ articles. Some were about a passing event, or a local issue.
Here are the ones you should read, explanations of big concepts, problems, or opportunities that you need to think about if you’re going to do your part to make transit better.
What is Transit? Why Transit?
- The Transit Ridership Recipe
How do we make transit useful to as many people as possible, in order to produce high ridership?
- The Ridership-Coverage Tradeoff. What we are usually really talking about when we talk about transit planning. (By my colleague Christopher Yuen based on my 2008 paper here.)
- Should I Vote for a Transit Tax? Some things to think about when you’re asked to vote for transit funding.
- On Transit Integration or Seamlessness
Should adjacent agencies be consolidated? What makes a good border between transit agencies?
- What Are Transit Consultants For? It’s easy to attack consultants. Here’s what they’re for, and how to recognize those you might want to listen to.
- Can Transit “Fix” Traffic Congestion? And if not, why should a motorist care?
- On Operating Cost
The cost of transit is mostly the cost of operations. The short version: It’s mostly labor cost. Here’s the longer version.
- Network Redesigns: Why and How
When should a transit agency consider major changes to its network, and once they’ve decided to do so, what are the practical steps to actually develop a strong plan for the future?
I get philosophical sometimes.
- Controlling Altitude. The key to a coherent planning conversation.
- Lean Into The Wind. Don’t just accept what everyone seems to be saying.
- Expertise vs. Activism. They are different things, and have to dance together.
- Biggest of all, my 2018 paper “To Predict with Confidence, Plan for Freedom” (free) in Journal of Public Transportation.
Wouldn’t ___ Be Cool?
New things keep appearing, and I try to figure out what they’re for.
- What is “Microtransit” For? Flexible transit or “microtransit” was a big thing in the late 2010s, but it’s an old idea. When should transit agencies use it?
- Where Can Ferries Succeed? We all love ferries. Here’s how to tell if they solve a transit problem.
- Do We Need a New Route? When you have a new need, you may not want a new route.
The Inescapable Facts
Things you really have to think about when you think about transit.
- How Universal is Transit’s Geometry? Most of what we know about transit is true anywhere in the universe. This is the first draft of my Bortworld thought experiment, later refined here.
- The Math of Park-and-Ride. Want to park at a station? It’s harder than it looks.
- Walking Distance to Transit
A huge range of consequential transit planning decisions depend on assumptions about how far customers will be willing to walk.
- Branching: Transit Is Like a River
What does it mean for transit service when a line splits in two? Sometimes this isn’t as simple as it seems.
- Want Freedom? Love Grids.
Properly designed (and geography permitting), a grid of frequent transit routes offers the most efficient transit mobility across its extent.
- “Be on the way!”
If you are a building a place that you want people to use transit to get to, it must be located somewhere that transit can serve efficiently.
- “Transferring” Can Be Good!
Making connections between two transit routes is often thought of simply as a hassle or inconvenience, but transfers are key to the true freedom of mobility a frequent transit network can provide.
We Need Transit For ____!
Thinking about particular kinds of places, or groups of people …
- Some Tools for Small Cities. I love working in small cities (<100k). Here’s what I’ve learned.
- The High Cost of Peak-Only Transit. Many people think transit make sense mainly at rush hour, or is most efficient then, but they don’t consider the high cost of peak-only service.
- Keys to Great Airport Transit. How to serve the airport well or badly.
- The Problem of School Transportation. I can’t solve it, but I can explain why it’s hard.
And One Other Thing …
- The Case for Frequency Mapping
One of the most important aspects of transit is how often it comes, but one of the fundamental tools to understanding transit service rarely communicates this effectively.