Transit Street Design Guide, by NACTO (2016)

Nonfiction
Adult
Transit Street Design Guide, by the National Association of City Transportation Officials (NACTO)I recently left Vancouver after living in the city more than 16 years. Half that time was without a car, and except for 5 years commuting to work in a suburb, I used buses exclusively for getting to school and then work. Now that I’m in “rural” British Columbia, I still walk to the shops, post office, library and trails. Though I don’t use our local bus (there’s one, with no regular route as it’s “door to door” and must be arranged in advance), I am still a huge supporter of public transit. It just makes sense. In the introduction, the National Association of City Transportation Officials (NACTO) makes the very important point that transit is the most efficient way to move “tremendous numbers” of people from one place to another. This technical book takes a holistic approach to designing urban streets for improved transportation with the goal of creating enjoyable public spaces while creating cities where residents don’t need or even buy cars for personal use. It’s a heck of a guide, intended obviously for professional planners and urban designers. But it’s interesting reading for anyone who wants to make public transit better. It’s about 200 pages with lots of illustrations and real-life examples and case studies. For instance, after implementing some changes, NYC improved bus efficiency so that travel was faster for riders with less time boarding and at red lights. In Houston, better weekend service resulted in a staggering 30% jump in Sunday ridership. The book is organized into seven chapters: Introduction, Transit Streets, Stations & Stops, Station & Stop Elements, Transit Lanes & Transitways, Intersections, and Transit System Strategies. Through it all the authors examine options for transit and street design that focus on improving transit efficiency, while making room for cyclists, drivers and pedestrians. They point out important considerations, common problems and solutions, and make recommendations on best practices. In the chapter on Station & Stop Elements, there is a section on “passenger queue management,” with a picture of those painted lines for B-Line passengers at the Broadway and Commercial stop. The book gets into specifics that will warm planners’ hearts – such as comparing transit curbside versus centre transit lanes, or peak-only bus lanes. There’s even a discussion of pavement material! Again using the B-Line as an example, I recall when Translink upgraded the stops with concrete parking pads right on the street due to the heavy weight of a loaded and stopped bus. Had this book existed back in the 90s they probably would have done it earlier, saving us the significant damage to pavement. The concluding chapter on Transit System Strategies takes a higher-level approach, looking at simplifying routes, managing fares and boarding, and ensuring easy access for both walkers and cyclists. It’s not a deep dive, clearly, but gives an overview of what’s been done in major North American cities. It wraps up with a number of resources, including endnotes, references and a glossary, though regrettably no index. Fascinating for the interested layperson, and a godsend to those who are responsible for getting us around our cities. My thanks to Island Press for the digital reading copy of this book provided through NetGalley in exchange for my honest review.
Want to know more? Check out Art’s extensive review of this book: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/27837552
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