Quality or Quantity: What is More Important in Attracting Transit Riders?

What is more likely to constitute a successful transit system -- one that runs dirty old vehicles at shorter headways or one that runs beautiful comfortable vehicles less frequently? Tom Vanderbilt wades into the public conversation in <em>Slate</em>
January 21, 2012, 9am PST | Jonathan Nettler | @nettsj
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Vanderbilt considers the counter viewpoints delivered by planners Jarrett Walker, in his book "Human Transit," and Darrin Nordahl, in his book "My Kind of Transit". Walker "espouses a very "system"-oriented view of transit: He cares less what trains look like-or even that they're trains to begin with-than that they simply run on time (and take people where they want to go)." Nordhal, however, argues that the "ride experience" is crucial for getting Americans out of their cars and into public transit.

Although Vanderbilt believes that Walker's position is a stronger determinant in getting the most people onto transit, he seems to see the debate less as an either/or proposition, and more of an and. Both approaches have their appropriate uses (i.e. what will get tourists on board versus everyday users). Why can't we create systems that exhibit the highest of both quality and quantity?

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Published on Thursday, January 19, 2012 in Slate
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