General

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.

 

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.

What is a Spine?

A spine is a really powerful network design idea that takes a moment to explain.  This is how a spine works, in an example from the Dublin bus network redesign proposal.

[That diagram is by Dublin-based graphic designer Kevin Carter, and uses a style common in the UK.  The National Transport Authority has hired Kevin to complete these diagrams for the other six spines.   If you’re on Twitter, follow him at @yascaoimhin.]

A spine is several bus lines designed to share a common segment, with the buses evenly spaced on that segment to deliver a very high frequency.  In this case, each spine branch runs every 15 minutes all day, so the common segment is every 3.75 minutes on average.

If you are in the inner city, where all the spines are running on their common segment, you just say “take any bus whose number starts with A”.  The result is a high-frequency network map that’s easy to draw a map of, and to learn, remember, and explain.

(That image is ours, from the summary report.)

In the case of the A spine, all four branches are every 15 minutes all day so the common segment is a little better than every 4 minutes all day.

The National Transport Authority also did an animation, here.

Many, many cities have a geography where this structure makes sense.  As you move out from the centre, the area to be covered gets wider but the frequency need gets lower, so you branch.  But you make it legible.   The inner city needs an extremely frequent line that’s easy to learn and remember, so we just explain that the A-spine is made of all the buses whose numbers start with A.  Presto.  You have a simple network of inner-city lines where the bus is always coming soon, exactly what people moving around in the core need.

Once you understand it, it’s simple.  But it takes a moment to learn, and different people learn it differently.

Do We Need a New Theory and Name for “Bike Lanes”?

Important: I’m thinking out loud here!  The title is a question because I don’t have answers and am not proposing anything.

Now that we have scooters sharing bike lanes, I wonder if we’ll need to think more clearly about the different kinds of lane on a street and what their real defining features are.  This could lead to different words.

We separate traffic types for two reasons:

  • Speed, so that faster vehicles aren’t often stuck behind slower ones,
  • Width, so that we use less space to serve the needs of narrower vehicles, thus using scarce space more efficiently overall.

Sarah Iannarone and I were chatting about this on the bus this morning, and after that she went straight to the whiteboard and drew this:

The idea here is that a street with a speed limit over 30 km/hr will need to separate these three kinds of traffic, because they differ in both speed and width.  At lower speeds you can mix them more.

Where speed and width come apart, however, speed has to be the defining feature.  You can’t ride a motorbike at 30 km/hr down a “bike” lane, even though it may be narrow enough.  You have to ride it in the traffic lane, even though that’s a waste of space.

All this came up because I was trying to think of the correct new term for “bike lane” as we proliferate more vehicle types that run more or less at the speed and width of bicycles but are clearly not bicycles, such as electric scooters.  The two logical terms seem to be narrow lane or midspeed lane.  One way or another the two concepts will need to track with each other.

I wonder if this kind of language can make our sense of the role of these lanes more flexible, and thus less divisive.

There is a lot of room for individual choice here about which lane to use.  Cyclists, for example, already choose between midspeed “bike” lanes and full-speed traffic lanes, depending on their preferred balance of speed and safety.  Meanwhile, an 8-year-old learning to ride a bike should probably be on the sidewalk.  Another reason that “cycle lane” may be a misnomer.

This isn’t easy.  The things that might go in a midspeed lane have very different acceleration and stopping characteristics, all of which will cause friction.  When I raised this thought on Twitter, I got lots of responses expressing concern about different kinds of vehicles sharing a lane.  But even with just the few lane types that we already have, it’s hard to make them all fit.   We’ll never have a separate lane for every type of vehicle that needs a slightly different speed, acceleration, or stopping distance.  So again, I’m asking a question, not answering it.

Finally, Sarah assigns transit to the full-speed, widest lanes, but of course that leaves open the question of transit priority within that territory.  Where there’s demand and room for a bus lane, it should be automatic in my view.  It doesn’t even need to be “constructed” necessarily.  Just paint the lane red.

 

Why We’re Used to Some Outrage at Network Redesigns

Here are some things that happen whenever a big bus network redesign is first proposed to the public. They are happening in the Dublin network redesign process right now, but to some degree they’ve happened on every project I’ve done over my 25-year career.

  • People assume that the plan is more final than it is, so they feel they need to gather forces in angry meetings and attack us, when in fact we want their detailed comments so we can address them.
  • We consult the public about the plan and they tell us, as we’re consulting them, that we’re not consulting them. (This is an understandable consequence of the previous point; people assume they’re being told when in fact they’re being asked.)
  • People say that while we’ve consulted some people, we haven’t consulted everyone in the right way.  (This is an understandable complaint, and often a valid one, but we will always get it no matter how much consultation is done. People rely on so many different information sources, and need things explained in so many different ways, that reaching everyone the right way is a potentially infinite task.)
  • Some people hear only that “there won’t be a Route 54” and begin holding rallies to “Save the 54,” without knowing or caring what service is proposed to replace the 54.  (Sometimes we’re just changing the number!)
  • Media headlines often inflame this confusion, with headlines about bus lines being “scrapped”.
  • People attack the whole plan because one local detail isn’t right.  (Many of the details that people are outraged about in Dublin are fixable, now that we have heard about them.  That’s why we’re consulting you about it now, to help us get the details right!)
  • Unions representing bus drivers, understandably seen as experts in some circles, will often put out their own messages tied to their own interests.
  • People attack the consultant.  (It’s not the first time my tiny 10-person firm has been called “corporate.”)
  • Some sympathetic person explains to me that people in their city or country are just crazy in some way, and I assure them that no, this is what happens everywhere, from Russia to the US to New Zealand, when a proposed network redesign comes out.  Because what everyone is doing is completely understandable in their situation.

Here, for example, is a deep dive into a current network redesign in Canberra, Australia (which I helped lay the groundwork for years ago).  You will see all of the themes I’ve listed.

What’s happened next, in all my projects, is that we collected the comments and fixed what was fixable, which turned out to include most of the details that had most inflamed people.  In most cases that addressed enough concerns that the plan moved forward and was a success.  It solved the problems it was meant to solve, and once people got used to it many of them discovered that it wasn’t as bad as they thought.

That doesn’t always happen, though. Sometimes elected leaders panic at this point and stop the plan, leaving all of the existing problems in place.

For me, there’s a reason to be happy about all the controversy:  It means people care.  The least controversial projects I’ve done were in very car-oriented places where few people (and no powerful people) cared what the buses did.  I would much rather be dealing with controversy.

The key thing is not to panic when we hear outrage at this stage of the process.  While was it was especially inflamed by misinformation in Dublin’s case, it’s a normal phase in the conversation.

And again, that doesn’t mean we’re not listening. The whole point is that we are listening, so we can make the plan better.

[Note: I will be mostly away from the internet, until the 20th August.]