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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

4.39 of 5 stars 4.39  ·  rating details  ·  160 ratings  ·  27 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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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
...more
Rebecca T Marsh
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
...more
Michael Lewyn
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
...more
Lucas
Jun 02, 2014 Lucas rated it 4 of 5 stars
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
...more
Daniel


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.
Peter Manwaring


Excellent book if you are interested in urban design and the way transit systems work. Easy to read with good examples.
Kylie
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
Jill
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
...more
Wai Yip Tung
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
Dustin
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
...more
Kyle
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
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
...more
Gordon Howard
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
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.
Graham
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
...more
Christopher
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.
Mark Abersold
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
Khalil James
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
Chris
Aug 25, 2012 Chris rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  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.
Stuart
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
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.
Finlay
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.
Veronica
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.
Jacob
Incredibly clear and concise description of the major decision-points when designing a mass transit system. Very good introduction for urban planning students and the interested layperson.
Chris Shaffer
Anyone interested in transportation systems, policy, and resource allocations should read this book. Frequency is king. I am not a captive rider, despite not owning a car.
Abraham Abreu
Accessible enough for those who aren't transit knowledgeable, engaging and insightful enough for those who are.
Emily
A practical book for practical thinking.
Gerri
Gerri marked it as to-read
Dec 20, 2014
Roger
Roger marked it as to-read
Dec 19, 2014
Jeffrey
Jeffrey marked it as to-read
Dec 19, 2014
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