The Pedestrian Accelerator

I came to transit on foot, I like to say.  Of course one always accesses transit on foot, that is as a pedestrian, but I also mean I got into the transit business because I enjoy walking so much, especially in places that make walking a pleasure.  I used transit occasionally growing up in Tampa where transit service was occasional and walking was torture; much more often as an embassy guard in Seoul,...

February 15th, 2013
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When Peaks are Plateaus

Peak hour, whether by motorcars as recorded by traffic counters or as additional vehicles put into service by transit agencies, takes its name from the way these data points appear on a graph.  In the morning and late afternoon more people use roads and usually more transit is provided so those periods have predictable spikes.   Not every transit agency has those peaks in service, including the...

April 17th, 2012
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A Weak Platform: The streetcar as development tool, not transportation

A person born in Tampa, Florida, or nearly any other significant American city in 1888, the year Frank J. Sprague produced the first successful electric streetcar in Richmond, Virginia, would live his youth knowing only the streetcar as a regular means of mechanized transport.   He would marry in a church within earshot of the clang of a streetcar bell and take his own young children on trips downtown...

April 16th, 2012
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They Say: The Spare Ratio is 20%

Small enough? Photo from Motiondesign The question comes up all the time in the transit business:  why doesn’t your transit agency does not deploy smaller buses?  This question has been posed to me so many times now that my answer is reflexive and automatic.  For those not intimately plugged into the transit business there are four reasons: Capacity.  There is no savings.  There is no money...

December 30th, 2011
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First is Worst

“Don’t ever, ever be the first to try out a new technology in transit,” Gregory Thompson told me over lunch.  I had just started my first job at a transit agency and we were about to be the first in the country to install a major technological upgrade to our system (I won’t say what).  My former professor was not happy to hear this.  He worked for BART in the 1970s when they were the first...

July 20th, 2011
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Like Peas and Carrots: Co-locating facilities and transit

  For more than 100 Years the Reading Terminal Market has been the grocer, deli, cheese shop, bakery, and so mucyh else to commuters in Philadelphia. Steam Locamotives once stopped overhead but now Reading is served underground by SEPTA. Photo Scheib Shoppers could always tell when the train arrived by the sound of 700,000 pounds of steel laboring to a halt a few dozen feet overhead.  The Reading...

July 14th, 2010
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Charter Rules

The breathtaking view from the sky of Husky Stadium, a multimodal place on gameday. That could be a problem. Photo by Mary Levin.         Husky Stadium is a point of convergence.  From its lofty seats sky, mountains, verdant land, and water are layered in undulating shades of blue and green; the built and the natural environments blend as multi-story towers wave through the trees; and here...

July 7th, 2010
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