Follow us:

The Today File

Your guide to the latest news from around the Northwest

April 18, 2012 at 9:28 PM

“Should transit be fun, or functional?” Yes

What is the best way for transit systems, especially in bus-dominated areas like Seattle, to seduce more travelers out of their cars?

Two authors at Island Press gave competing views in a debate of sorts, at Town Hall in Seattle on Wednesday night.

Darrin Nordahl, author of the ebook “Making Transit Fun,” showed how in Davenport, Iowa, new riders were happy to board clean new orange buses with sunroofs and attractive stops. In Berlin, a slide lets people ride to a subway platform, for fun, instead of taking stairs.

“Anyone who rides public transit, who shares public space, deserves a delightful experience,” Nordahl said, to an audience of 120 people.

Jarrett Walker, author of Human Transit, said Nordahl (and many transit backers) are asking the wrong questions. The point is to provide abundant service, in a network, to as many people as possible, and then add attractive features if it won’t drain money from the basic service.

He showed a dramatic “map of freedom” in Portland, of purple tentacles showing neighborhoods where someone could reach downtown, shops, schools, work and arts without a car, by using predictable rail or bus lines and on foot.

“Only extremely frequent vehicles are instruments of freedom,” he said.

Walker took some potshots at the U.S. streetcar revival, saying it focused on short lines, and that streetcar fervor may only stigmatize buses further. He noted that Portland is about to open another streetcar line while drastically slashing bus service.

He didn’t mention the First Hill Streetcar line in Seattle, where groundbreaking is Monday. Those streetcars will connect to Sound Transit’s rail network and run in mixed traffic, at speeds similar to a Metro bus.

Related coverage is linked here from Crosscut, Publicola , and Transportation Issues Daily

Comments | More in Politics

COMMENTS

No personal attacks or insults, no hate speech, no profanity. Please keep the conversation civil and help us moderate this thread by reporting any abuse. See our Commenting FAQ.



The opinions expressed in reader comments are those of the author only, and do not reflect the opinions of The Seattle Times.


The Seattle Times

The door is closed, but it's not locked.

Take a minute to subscribe and continue to enjoy The Seattle Times for as little as 99 cents a week.

Subscription options ►

Already a subscriber?

We've got good news for you. Unlimited seattletimes.com content access is included with most subscriptions.

Subscriber login ►
The Seattle Times

To keep reading, you need a subscription upgrade.

We hope you have enjoyed your complimentary access. For unlimited seattletimes.com access, please upgrade your digital subscription.

Call customer service at 1.800.542.0820 for assistance with your upgrade or questions about your subscriber status.

The Seattle Times

To keep reading, you need a subscription.

We hope you have enjoyed your complimentary access. Subscribe now for unlimited access!

Subscription options ►

Already a subscriber?

We've got good news for you. Unlimited seattletimes.com content access is included with most subscriptions.

Activate Subscriber Account ►