Thursday, October 14, 2010

New Title, New Vision, New Ideas

Here I am, back again.

I have not written in a very long time. This is due to the fact that I am in EspaƱa (Spain)! I will be in Europe until early January and then return to the University of Arizona for one and a half more semesters.

The first item I would like to address is a project I have been working on with Parking and Transportation Services at the University of Arizona. Last year, I noticed an interactive map on the PTS website. It had some neat features, such as traces for various buildings on the campus, maps of parking zones and CatTran routes. However, the map left me wanting more transportation information, especially for SunTran, the Tucson city bus.

I visited PTS and talked to the person who created this map. He liked my ideas so much that he decided I should add the things I wanted to the map! How about that for innovative collaboration?

Though I made quite a few changes, the major ones were adding more SunTran stop icons (all stops within close vicinity of the U of A campus) and adding stop information to all of the stops (both SunTran and CatTran). Also, this map is now linked directly to the U of A home webpage. Here is the current live version of the map as it exists now. I am now listed as a collaborator. Though I have more ideas about things to add, I will wait until next semester to address them.

So, back to the title of this post.

New Title: I decided to change the title of this blog (yet again) to "Urban Transport Revolution: Ideas for a More Intelligent Future". Why the name change?

The new name is more broad because my posts and ideas have become more broad. Though I am primarily interested in transportation, I am also interested in EVERY facet of urban life.

In addition, transportation does NOT exist in an isolated bubble; its success or failure depends on a huge variety of factors, with walkabiltiy being a huge part of the equation. Changing the current paradigms of American transportation policy will truly require a revolution. Though some cities and states are beginning to understand the work necessary, there is a long struggle ahead of us.

New Ideas: Maybe there are not new, but they are important.

Walkable mixed-use density = successful transit. This equation may look simple, but it is incredibly complicated. Some think density is the primary factor in transit success, but it's only one part of the equation. If these dense areas are:

a) dense single use and not mixed use (miles of apartment buildings without a grocery store)
b) dense and not walkable (divided up by lots of fences, walls, major busy streets, etc.)
c) walkable but not dense (dense is a vague quantifier, but basically anything with only single family homes)
any other combo, transit is not guaranteed success. Sure, there are a few examples of these outlier patterns leading to quality transit ridership, but they are not easy to find.

Jarrett Walker, in his blog Human Transit, goes into these issues with more depth.

Once the governments controlling the cash understand the connections between all these things (plenty of other people [PDF] already do), the revolution can begin.

Anyway, that's all for now. Hopefully, I will be posting more often now.