Houston has been in the news recently, and will certainly be today, opening day, for their revised transit system which created a network of high frequency (service every 15 minutes or better, 15 hours a day, 7 days a week) transit lines. The map below left shows this new system, only, and clicking goes to the high resolution image on the Houston METRO website. The map below right shows the entire system, with lines that don’t meet the high frequency definition. The system was redesigned with the help of Jarrett Walker, transit consultant and author of Human Transit, which I posted on yesterday and will be posting a lot more in the near future.
So, what’s the story in Sacramento?
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I am reading Jarrett Walker’s Human Transit: How Clearer Thinking about Public Transit Can Enrich Our Communities. It is a revelation, and I’ll have more to say about it when I finish. He cautions about using the traditional categories of “choice” riders, those who are not riders but might be if they were better served, and “captive” riders, those who have no choice but to ride public transit. The equivalent is “rich” and “poor,” in that order. I agree with his caution.
But I realized that the categories should be flipped. Choice riders are those who have chosen to live in an area where transit is available, and have chosen not to indebt themselves and their family by owning, maintaining, and operating a motor vehicle. Captive riders are those who have chosen to live in the suburbs and exurbs where they have no choice but to own a motor vehicle, because there is no other way to get around, and no place worth going to, in any case. They are a captive of the choice they’ve made, far less free than someone who lives in a place with transit.