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What are the best transit cities in the US? The best Bus Rapid Transit lines? The most useless rail transit lines? The missed opportunities?
In the US, the 25 largest metropolitan areas and many smaller cities have fixed guideway transit—rail or bus rapid transit. Nearly all of them are talking about expanding. Yet discussions about transit are still remarkably unsophisticated. To build good transit, the discussion needs to focus on what matters—quality of service (not the technology that delivers it), all kinds of transit riders, the role of buildings, streets and sidewalks, and, above all, getting transit in the right places.
Christof Spieler has spent over a decade advocating for transit as a writer, community leader, urban planner, transit board member, and enthusiast. He strongly believes that just about anyone—regardless of training or experience—can identify what makes good transit with the right information. In the fun and accessible Trains, Buses, People: An Opinionated Atlas of US Transit, Spieler shows how cities can build successful transit. He profiles the 47 metropolitan areas in the US that have rail transit or BRT, using data, photos, and maps for easy comparison. The best and worst systems are ranked and Spieler offers analysis of how geography, politics, and history complicate transit planning. He shows how the unique circumstances of every city have resulted in very different transit systems.
Using appealing visuals, Trains, Buses, People is intended for non-experts—it will help any citizen, professional, or policymaker with a vested interest evaluate a transit proposal and understand what makes transit effective. While the book is built on data, it has a strong point of view. Spieler takes an honest look at what makes good and bad transit and is not afraid to look at what went wrong. He explains broad concepts, but recognizes all of the technical, geographical, and political difficulties of building transit in the real world. In the end,Trains, Buses, People shows that it is possible with the right tools to build good transit.
About the Author
Christof Spieler, PE, LEED AP, is a Vice President and Director of Planning at Huitt-Zollars and a Lecturer in Architecture and Engineering at Rice University. He was a member of the board of directors of Houston METRO from 2010 to 2018.
"Transit planners, elected representatives, and transportation enthusiasts should all find something to love or learn in this honest and expansive status report."
— Atlantic's CityLab
"Spieler knows this subject to a significant depth but has managed something remarkable, perhaps mirrored in his choice of the accessible atlas format: he has made a great deal of comparative information very easy to understand and digest. The approach is tailor-made to help convince nonexperts—be they the general public or perhaps more importantly politicians and others with influence—to mimic the good and avoid the bad...The end result makes the book a compelling and useful compendium of the state of transit in the United States."
— Civil Engineering
"Gets right to the point: put [transit] where the people are...The author combines detailed knowledge and a refreshing frankness...Keep this book within easy reach."
"A transit wonk's bible...Urban planner Christof Spieler is a transportation hero."
— Mobility Lab
"Belongs on an urbanist's bookshelf...one of the best transit/planning books I've read in a long time."
— Greater Greater Washington
"Spieler's book is perfectly designed to be both readable and browsable—a great gift for an urbanist or transport geek and a great book for the coffee table. You can read around in for a long time, exploring different cities, their strengths and their missed opportunities. Let's hope it produces a smarter conversation about urban transit."
— Jarett Walker's Human Transit blog
"For all of their hardcore infrastructure, urban transit networks are essentially human creations, and understanding what makes them successful is essential for building successful cities. Supported by urban histories and incisively presented data, Christof Spieler sets the rules of engagement for effective transit and offers a roadmap for achieving it."
— Janette Sadik-Khan, Principal, Bloomberg Associates; former NYC Transportation Commissioner
"This edifying publication...serves as an awakening guide to planning both feasible and practical public-transit systems."
— San Francisco Book Review
"It was a pleasure to sit down and read this new offering addressing public transportation...This book was rich on interpretation and implications from an author who obviously has the experience and credentials to offer credible observations...The text does a nice job of providing very useful information in a readable and focused fashion."
— Transport Reviews
"A refreshing look at transit development in the United States...Trains, Buses, People – An Opinionated Atlas of US Transit includes examples of successful and unsuccessful systems while offering insightful commentary as to why these systems are the way they are...Overall, Spieler’s atlas gives those looking for transit lessons a lot to chew on, while providing the rest of us a fascinating window into the US’s major transit cities."
— Spacing Vancouver
"Christof Spieler was the driving force behind Houston's transit transformation, but he's also one of America's great transit travelers, a careful observer of history, technology, geometry, and politics. This book is an atlas of beautiful detail about 47 U.S. cities, but it's also a call to action, demanding clearer and more effective transit planning and advocacy."
— Jarrett Walker, President and Principal Consultant, Jarrett Walker + Associates, author of "Human Transit"
"This book is comprehensive enough to be a resource for transit professionals, but delivered in readable, straightforward language; an objective look at the state of transit by a passionate advocate."
— Annise Parker, former Mayor of Houston