Have you wanted an opportunity to listen to and discuss quality transit with an urban planner, transit board member, and transit enthusiast? Then join Christof Spieler, author of “Trains, Buses, People: An Opinionated Atlas of US Transit,” at Eastlake Craft Brewing, this Friday, April 5, starting at 6:30 PM!
I had a chance to peruse his book over the past couple weeks, and I found a lot to enjoy (and some ideas to clarify and discuss!) His work takes the time to lay out what makes good transit (hint: it includes walkability, density, and frequency) and what legislators and transit agencies sometimes focus on that either is misprioritized (e.g. placing mode discussion before the discussion of the line in question) or is actively detrimental to a network (for example, placing stations in unwalkable areas or locking station gates simply because neighborhood residents are worried about hide-and-ride commuters.)
There were multiple times reading the book where I felt understood with my frustrations as a transit user. He calls out the Rosemont CTA station specifically as situated with poor walkability in the surrounding area between the local interstate and nature reserve, an assessment I agree with after using it (and having long walks) during visits to Chicago. He also points out the frustration with local transit agencies often having different fare structures between bus, local train, and regional/commuter trains, with fare continuity rarely existing fully between all three modes and often agencies having trouble even working together for a truly common fare media. This has been a frustration of mine as well when traveling and trying to decipher the best way to pay for and budget for my transit trips, and I can only imagine it being even more frustrating for people that live there if they need to use multiple modes for their daily trips.
He also calls out a few examples where MSP does it right, which certainly helps my positivity with the book. He calls out the A-Line as an example of a solid local bus upgrade, our high frequency network as one of the best frequent bus networks, and our light rail network as one of the best in the country. He even specifically calls out the Green Line and its 39,000 passengers a day, without a single park-and-ride! He does point out some of the errors with the current network as well, including the Northstar commuter rail and the Red Line, along with concerns about the light rail extensions avoiding dense neighborhoods.
I’m excited to see him on April 5, and hope to see you there as well!
It’s at the East Lake Brewery, right on the #5 and #21 lines.