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Start By Wiping the Slate Clean – Streetsblog New York City

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When New York City Transit says it’s embarking on a “top-to-bottom” overhaul of “the entire city’s bus route network,” that’s music to Jarrett Walker’s ears.

Walker is the consultant who specializes in guiding transit agencies through the process of redesigning their bus networks — most famously in Houston, and most recently in Dublin. At a time when transit ridership is slumping nationally, Houston is one of the notable exceptions. Its redesigned bus network, which brought frequent service to new parts of the city, deserves substantial credit.

With the MTA embarking on a total overhaul of the bus network in all five boroughs by 2021 (the Staten Island express bus network was the warm-up), Walker’s fundamental advice is to start by “wiping the slate clean,” he told a crowd at TransitCenter last week. Only a blank canvas will yield “design choices based on the whole network,” he said, which in turn produce benefits compelling enough to “overcome little problems.”

For transit planners who know their bus network and each justification for all of its quirks inside out, it can be difficult to let go and think freely. At the bus network redesign workshops he leads for transit agencies and city DOTs, Walker insists that participants refrain from discussing historical reasons for routes and steer clear of anticipating political objections (as in, “that parking space over there belongs to a business owned by the city councilor’s cousin”).

In Dublin, that meant completely redoing a system that emphasized one-seat rides at the expense of frequency. With the old network, riders could avoid transfers, but they sacrificed in the form of longer waits. Under the new bus network design, unveiled earlier this week, service will be simplified into core routes that arrive much more frequently, which is projected to reduce total wait time even though riders will have to make more transfers.

The politics of these major redesigns are never easy. (“Beautiful people will come to you with their elderly parents and their babies and say the redesign will ruin their lives.”) But with a sweeping overhaul, the benefits should be substantial enough to win over elected officials and other community leaders.

As Walker put it, “It’s easier to take out half of all bus stops than each stop one by one.” (Strategic advice that’s especially relevant for New York, where stops spaced too close together drag down bus speeds and stop consolidation will have to be embedded in any effective bus network redesign.)

Walker describes his role in the redesign process as a facilitator, and he didn’t want to go into prescriptive detail about how to improve New York’s bus network.

But he did point out the inconsistent distances between parallel routes in Brooklyn. Where parallel routes are close together, riders don’t have to walk far to get to a stop, but they have to wait longer than they would if service was concentrated on fewer streets.

Walker also stressed the importance of a bus network that transcends the boundaries between boroughs. While the waterways dividing the land masses of New York justify separate bus networks to some degree, he also sees artificial distinctions in the current network.

When you wipe the slate clean, he said, “There’s a way to look at Brooklyn and Queens as one thing.”

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reconbot
8 days ago
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About time
New York City
satadru
8 days ago
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New York, NY
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Be Cool

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reconbot
13 days ago
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Meirl
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20180624

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reconbot
18 days ago
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New York City
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Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal - Right

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Click here to go see the bonus panel!

Hovertext:
We are entering a golden age where we constantly surveil each other but are scared to wave from across a fence.


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reconbot
26 days ago
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We are entering a golden age where we constantly surveil each other but are scared to wave from across a fence.
New York City
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The chimeras of the NYC subway

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The NYC subway is home to many interesting characters and creatures but perhaps none as delightfully weird as Matthew Grabelsky’s straphanger chimeras.

Matthew Grabelsky

Matthew Grabelsky

Matthew Grabelsky

(via colossal)

Tags: art   Matthew Grabelsky   NYC   remix   subway
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reconbot
27 days ago
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New York City
satadru
31 days ago
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New York, NY
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1 public comment
cjheinz
30 days ago
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Art!

NASA's Lunar Orbiter pics from 1967/8 were deliberately fuzzed and downsampled to hide US spying capabilities

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In 1967, the Lunar Orbiter missions sent back exciting -- but grainy and low-rez -- photos of the moon's surface. (more…)

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reconbot
27 days ago
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Wow...
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satadru
29 days ago
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Huh. That the pics were downsampled intentionally is new to me.
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