How to Expand Your Transit Network Without Expanding Its Budget

Auckland, New Zealand, before and after its transit "network redesign." Image: Human Transit

Here’s what’s happening around the Streetblog Network today:

Strategic Transit Network Redesign: With transit funding tight around the country, public transportation agencies have to find creative ways to stretch existing dollars. Today, Jarrett Walker at Human Transit offers a no- or low-cost way to expand coverage. “Network redesign,” or route reconfiguration, can help cities get a lot of extra coverage bang for not so many bucks.

Walker uses the example of Auckland, New Zealand, a recent client of his. “When a public transport network has grown cumulatively over decades, but has never been reviewed from the ground up, it can contain an enormous amount of waste,” he said. Auckland’s expanded network is pictured above.

“The network still includes coverage to all corners of the city that are covered now, and ensures plenty of capacity for peak commuters into the city,” says Walker. The only “catch,” he says, is that the new system will require more transfers. Which is not such a bad trade-off as long as the agency adopts a fare system that doesn’t penalize transfers, and wait times are kept to a minimum.

Critiquing St. Louis’ Historic Preservation Win: The city of St. Louis has been winning accolades for its decision to preserve the “flying saucer”-shaped, 1960s building that formerly housed a Del Taco, after the iconic building faced demolition last year. This was a double win for historic preservationists because not only was the building spared, but a Starbucks Coffee has taken up residence there.

St Louis' "flying saucer." Photo: Urban Review STL

But Steve Patterson at Network blog Urban Review STL says the period building suffers from one of the design flaws typical of its era: car-orientation. The project designers skimped on pedestrian access, he reports, and the only passage through the parking lot is a painted crosswalk that appears to be designated for the disabled only. “This was poorly planned new site work. New curbs, new asphalt. The perfect chance to acknowledge the bulk of customers will be pedestrians from Saint Louis University,” he said. “I’m thrilled and disappointed at the same time.”

Helping the Homeless Through Cycling: Our friends in Lee County, Florida, have been hard at work on an idea we love: empowering the less fortunate through cycling. The Fort Myers cycling community recently held a bike fix-a-thon for homeless people, helping them learn the mechanical skills that will keep them mobile on a small budget. “It’s my house,” said one participant of his bicycle. “It carries everything I need.” Network blog BikeWalkLee reported about 50 people took part in the 45-minute clinic. Each received a free water bottle and a voucher for a new inner-tube.