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Building a successful and attractive transit system takes more than drawing lines on a map and buying snazzy vehicles. In addition to the many technical issues, one of the most important factors is values. Who is the system for, and why will they use it?

International transportation consultant Jarrett Walker, who writes the blog Human Transit, has a new book by the same title about the values behind transit, transit’s limits and opportunities, and why people do and don’t ride.

On Tuesday, February 7, the Planning Commission is hosting Jarrett as a part of our speaker series. The talk will start at 7:30 pm in the Planning Board auditorium at 8787 Georgia Avenue in Silver Spring.

If you can’t make it to Silver Spring on the 7th, there are other chances to see Jarrett.

Several local organizations are cosponsoring an informal chat and question/answer session with Jarrett next Thursday, February 9th, at 6:30 pm.

That event will be at the American Public Transportation Association (APTA) offices at 1666 K Street NW, Suite 1100, starting at 6:30. Young Professionals in Transportation, Women’s Transportation Seminar, the American Planning Association, APTA, and Greater Greater Washington are cosponsoring the event.

To go to the evening event at APTA, you do need to RSVP. Additionally, there are a limited number of books available at a discounted rate. You can reserve one when you RSVP.

Also on the 9th, Jarrett will speak at the National Building Museum from 12:30 to 1:30 pm. The National Building Museum is located downtown at 401 F Street NW. It may fill up so RSVP to reserve your space.

For those of you who live or work in the Baltimore area, Jarrett has also announced a lunchtime talk at Penn Station. It will run from noon until 1 pm on Tuesday the 7th.

All of the events are free.

Jarrett’s book, like his blog, is full of insightful commentary. I was particularly interested in his discussion of the relationship between connections and frequency in enabling transit to be a more feasible mode. It was especially poignant for me, since the Metrobus and Prince George’s County bus routes in Greenbelt were restructured around these principles just last year.

Prior to the change, we basically had a “direct service everywhere” design, which meant either long waits for the right bus or long rides on the wrong bus. Jarrett talks about how good design (both frequency and connections between routes) can mean that transferring might get you there more quickly and more reliably at the same cost to the agency. My experience on the ground backs that up, and the book explains why transit works that way.

Anyone who has ridden transit on a regular basis will appreciate the points Jarrett makes. Especially his matrix showing the seven demands of useful transit service. Transit designers must take these demands into consideration if they hope to compete for riders.

I won’t get too in depth, here. But I will strongly encourage you to buy Jarrett’s book. And hopefully I’ll see you at one of his events in the area.

One Response to “Hear Human Transit’s Jarrett Walker in DC or Silver Spring”

  1. Christine Feinthel


    I am a Montgomery County MD Ride On bus driver. I agree with having fewer and further apart bus stops, which will allow more frequent and faster bus times. On some routes we have two bus stops in one block (probably political decisions because a apartment building wants its own bus stop) . It is very hard on buses and drivers, and resulting in more emissions, to be stopping again as soon as the bus has started to roll. All too often we have passengers who ride only dor 2 or 3 blocks (and these are not frail people).

    Encouraging bicycle use in conjunction with busses serves two purposes–decreasing the time needed to get to the bus stop and letting people get to their destination on their own or connecting more efficiently to their next bus.

    Women especially are avoiding bicycle use because they prefer fashion over more pragmatic clothes.

    Other things that have people avoiding inner city bus travel—cigarette fumes on busses (windows are permanently closed) youth sitting on their underwear on buses, youth sitting withe their shoes on bus shelter benches (esp. in MOntgomery County, and most problemmatic, smoking in bus shleters and at bus stops.