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Human Transit: How Clearer Thinking about Public Transit Can Enrich Our Communities and Our Lives
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Human Transit: How Clearer Thinking about Public Transit Can Enrich Our Communities and Our Lives

4.31  ·  Rating Details  ·  234 Ratings  ·  35 Reviews
Public transit is a powerful tool for addressing a huge range of urban problems, including traffic congestion and economic development as well as climate change. But while many people support transit in the abstract, it's often hard to channel that support into good transit investments. Part of the problem is that transit debates attract many kinds of experts, who often ta ...more
Hardcover, 256 pages
Published December 22nd 2011 by Island Press (first published December 14th 2011)
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(showing 1-30 of 686)
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Chris Ledermuller
In my days of transit advocacy, I had wished a book like "Human Transit" were around. It would have made my route and service proposals easier to understand and implement.

By coincidence, I had incorporated many of Walker's theories -- direct, grid-based routes whenever possible and using frequency to attract ridership -- but have never attempted to explain my logic behind my proposals. Even if I did, I wouldn't be able to explain myself as concisely and sharply as Walker.

"Human Transit" doesn't
Dec 31, 2015 Millan rated it it was amazing
Unbelievable book. This is the holy graille for any transit enthusiast when it comes to planning a system. People who are not interested in public transit and drive everywhere would probably find it boring, though.
Jun 11, 2014 Jill rated it really liked it
Clarity. That's what Jarrett Walker's book promises in its subtitle: "How Clearer Thinking About Public Transit Can Enrich Our Communities and Our Lives" and clarity is what this book delivers. Public transport is a complex issue with many different considerations and interests at play. Walker breaks these issues down one by one and in simple, layman language, offers us different frames with which to analyse transport matters.

Chapter 2 breaks down the different (sometimes conflicting) demands p
Wai Yip Tung
May 13, 2012 Wai Yip Tung rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Transit services shapes our city and impact our daily life. Therefore many people may want to voice their opinion on the design and operation of transit system. But few people knows how to think about the working of a transit system systematically. Transit consultant Jarrett Walker's book provide excellent guidance to citizen and government alike to think about what they need from transit service. He explains the key points that makes transit useful. Then explores basic geometry and the implicat ...more
Rebecca T Marsh
Jul 31, 2012 Rebecca T Marsh rated it it was amazing
Shelves: nonfiction
The book is easy for laymen, like me, to read. But it's no Suburban Nation (a book), so it won't change your world view on the built environment.

Still, I gave it five stars, because it addressed all the questions I had. Questions like, why does transit work well (when it does) and how does it fail the transit user when it doesn't? What makes people want to use transit? If you live in an community with older residents, why would your transit system be different than the one in a community with y
Mark Abersold
Oct 30, 2013 Mark Abersold rated it it was amazing
Human Transit is not about why we should build transit, it's about how to build effective transit. It deals mostly with the geometry of systems, where to place transit lines, and has interesting discussions over whether it is more important to go for coverage goals or ridership goals (or somewhere in between). I was hoping it would go into a little more detail of the merits of buses and when it's time to consider upgrading to rail from high frequency bus lines. Regardless, it still is a great bo ...more
Michael Lewyn
Oct 13, 2014 Michael Lewyn rated it it was amazing
Most public discussion of public transit is not particularly sophisticated: much public discussion is limited to "for it" or "against it", or perhaps focused on the virtues of bus vs. rail.

Walker reminds us that there are a wide variety of tradeoffs even if we agree on these basic issues. For example, should we provide a few routes that run frequently, or a larger number of less frequent routes? Should routes stop every block or stop every several blocks to make service faster? To what extent sh
Jun 02, 2014 Lucas rated it really liked it
Shelves: urban
Someone working on Google maps ought to read this book, and then make the following changes:

Once in transit directions mode, the map ought to show roads where there are high frequency buses as thicker or otherwise highlighted just as arterials and highways are highlighted for cars. If there is no transit service on a given road, de-emphasize it. Adjust for time of day as necessary. It should be possible to view this map even without having specific origins or destinations, just to see where one
Jun 28, 2012 Daniel rated it really liked it

I'm giving this five stars, but for the record, you'll only enjoy this if you're a huge nerd who enjoys transport policy or engineering. If you are one of those people, this book if the best I've ever read on the subject.
Huyen Le
Nov 25, 2015 Huyen Le rated it really liked it
Shelves: urban, for-work
I would rate the book higher if I read it sooner. A great book for those who want to explore how the transit systems work.
Peter Manwaring
May 05, 2012 Peter Manwaring rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

Excellent book if you are interested in urban design and the way transit systems work. Easy to read with good examples.
Jul 20, 2014 Kylie rated it it was amazing
Shelves: nonfiction
Yes, I'm a transit geek. I can't imagine there are that many people who willingly read books like this. But I really wish everyone would. This book lays out in very clear terms all of the considerations that go into having effective, useful public transit and having cities that work for everyone. A city with well planned transit benefits both users of transit and drivers. This book opened my eyes to a lot of the objective realities of transit I didn't understand. It has given me a new appreciati ...more
Dec 07, 2015 Art rated it really liked it
Transit delivers people from one part of a city to another as pedestrians. And the pedestrian is the foundation of modern urban transit, writes Jarrett Walker, who wants to raise the expectations of transit. Walker's information, facts and figures will correct the ignorance of common fallacies, he writes.

How to recognize transit-friendly places? By the quality of the pedestrian experience around the stations and stops. How to recognize good transit? By the frequency, with the best service on a
Nov 19, 2015 Larry rated it really liked it
This is a very concise and clear presentation of public transit options in modern metropolitan areas of any size in any country. As a long time and frequent user of public transit in numerous cities in America and a few foreign ones as well, I found the presentation enlightening and crystallizing of what is already known to a frequent user. A similar transit user would most certainly benefit from reading it. Perhaps more importantly, non-transit users would gain critical insight to public transi ...more
Nov 17, 2013 Dustin rated it it was ok
Not technical enough to give a very deep understanding of transit, but too pedantic to be enjoyable for a lay audience.

To the first point, for example, there is no math in the entire book. There are not even descriptions of the mathematical underpinnings. Instead, he gives hand-wavey arguments for stop spacing and network design. Then again, I'm a civil engineer currently working on my masters in transportation engineering, so my perspective might be a little skewed cf most readers.

To the secon
Nov 01, 2015 Theresa rated it really liked it
Really interesting read. A great summation of transit considerations using layperson language. I had a later conversation with someone at the zoo about traffic control and peak time pricing that paralleled the discussions in this book so well that I was able to ask detailed questions.
I still, however, don't understand the logic behind Calgary transit. Based on what I learned in here, the priorities of my city planners are not very forward thinking in terms of car-reduction goals.
Dec 30, 2015 Tim rated it really liked it
This was a good, short book on public transit. It focuses on the basics of what a transit planner spends her life thinking about: the geometry and trade-offs of transit. And, it turns out, transit is hard! No wonder cities in the 20th century gave up and built freeways. It's much easier to please everyone with freeways and suburbs.

Clearly, though, transit's environmental and social benefits make it worth fighting for. While I wish this book had gotten into more of the details of how a transit pl
Feb 22, 2013 Kyle rated it really liked it
This is a trip down wonky lane if I've ever read one (and I honestly think that all specialty non-fiction books should be as full of industry knowledge as this one--otherwise, why bother learning about something if you only want to scratch the surface without getting any real, usable insight?). Walker gradually guides you into the world of transit step by step, then espouses important principles of choice without advocating one design over another. The problem, he says, is often of geometry--so ...more
Yuri Artibise
Dec 24, 2013 Yuri Artibise rated it it was amazing
Although Human Transit is directed towards those with an interest in public transit, Walker’s PhD in literature and experience as a blogger helps make his writing clear and accessible to any reader. This is a decided blessing when talking about the often dry and jargon laden subject, such as “transit geometry” or “inverted couplet.” The book is made more accessible by Walker’s focus on the ‘human’ side of the title, through numerous references to the experience of taking transit.

While, I am a re
Mark Schisler
Nov 13, 2015 Mark Schisler rated it liked it
This book puts you in the shoes of a somewhat sophisticated transit planner in 2012. That about says it all. It's an interesting thought experiment to see the world through a planner's eyes. More often than not, I found myself frustrated at the kludgy nature of the discipline which itself seemed a system of trade-offs and more often than not a game of damage control once a decision was made.

I feel like a book on city planning might be a more useful study. Transit planning is too frustrating, es
Gordon Howard
Nov 12, 2014 Gordon Howard rated it liked it
A good, wonkish book. It explains issues with mass transit dispassionately. While pro-transit, it doesn't demonize development that is not transit friendly - it just states that we shouldn't expect such development to be well-served by transit.
James Smyth
Feb 05, 2014 James Smyth rated it really liked it
Enlightening, easy-to-read, recently-written primer on basic principles of mass transit--which it would behoove more people especially to understand, because when you live someplace that follows them, like Taipei, you enjoy the extra lifetime your living environment affords you so much you want to stay there from then on. Enjoyed the examples from cities across America and Australia and the case against free parking in particular.
Jan 24, 2014 Graham rated it it was amazing
Foundational. Phenomenal. This should be the bible of thinking about transit. Walker builds his definitions from the ground up, gradually layering in complexity until even the layman can grasp why his local transit is the way it is, and how it can best be improved.

For me, chapter 7 was the encapsulation of what I've long noticed to be the case: "frequency is freedom." No other service quality has the same liberating ability. To be on your way when you want and to be assured of boarding a vehicl
Very preachy, and very insistent it isn't preachy. Which, as a choir member, I was okay with. Still, I could have used a little more substance.
Khalil James
Dec 12, 2012 Khalil James rated it really liked it
When reading books about transit planning and other types of development I often become wary of the possible polarizaing effect the author's claims may have on my way of thinking about progress in these areas. Human Transit tries to solve that problem by providing the options with their impending consequences, and working through a handful of case studies. Needless to say, you would have to have a certain level of curiousity about the practice of Transit Planning to appreciate what this book has ...more
Aug 25, 2012 Chris rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Chris by: Amazon
Shelves: transport-cities
Fantastic! If you are responsible for scheduling transit service or planning its routes (or are simply concerned about your community's mobility) then this book is for you.

It offers questions to ask about the trade-offs that you and your community will have to make along the way and explains the consequences of your choices backed up by examples from the real world.

A must-read by every transit official and politician.
Jan 12, 2014 Stuart rated it it was amazing
A must read for planners. Walker points out how intrinsic facts of geometry are often overlooked and misunderstood when considering the land use - transit connection.
Sam Brunson
Jan 24, 2014 Sam Brunson rated it really liked it
The information in this book is excellent; I understand the policies underlying public transit far better than it did before. Unfortunately, the writing style (and especially the constant in-text references to other chapters) often got in the way of the information. So five stars for the content, but three for the style, leaves four stars for the book.
Aug 10, 2013 Finlay rated it really liked it
I thought I already had a clear picture of the options for transit, but this book did a great job of laying out the terms and tradeoffs really clearly, and I can see a number of the choices in Vancouver much better now. Our city is doing a pretty good job... it would be nice if all the debates could be so rational.
Oct 21, 2012 Veronica rated it it was amazing
This was an excellent book for explaining the basics of transit planning -- note not transportation planning. More about how to lay out bus lines in your city than how to allocate the right of way.

It was very readable, with plenty of diagrams and illustrations.
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