Walkable City: How Downtown Can Save America one Step at a Time, by Jeff Speck
Speck, co-author of the classic Suburban Nation, has returned with a guidebook on making your city thrive again. With twenty-plus years of experience under his belt, Speck explains how reducing the dominance of automobiles in the core city can help make a city more livable again. Importantly, this doesn’t mean eliminating cars – just corralling them a bit so that everyone on the street feels safer. This book has me looking at Holland through new eyes.
Riding the Bus with My Sister: A True Life Journey by Rachel Simon
The city bus has a function that doesn’t make headlines: a traveling community center. Beth, a cognitively-impaired woman, rides the bus every day for the companionship and the structure it lends to her day. She has a somewhat fraught relationship with her older sister, Rachel, who is a successful professor and writer. The juxtaposition of scenes from their difficult growing-up years with scenes those from the year they spent riding the bus together is both beautiful and wrenching. This book has nothing to do with the day-to-day running of a transit agency; instead, it offers a rare glimpse into what one of these agencies means to one feisty and independent young woman. Highly recommended.
We all know that American passenger rail falls somewhat short of being the envy of the world. James McCommons chronicles both adventures and mishaps in his year of riding the Amtrak around the country, but he is not riding aimlessly. He uses this year to explore why American passenger rail is so unreliable through a series of interviews that include an assistant VP of freight giant BNSF and former Amtrak president Joe Boardman. The conversations and experiences he has aboard the train keep this book easy-to-read, but it is packed with historical and operational details about our rail system. Well worth a read.
This primer on public transit by international transit consultant and popular blogger Jarret Walker is a must-read. By pulling out the questions lurking underneath arguments over transit, he offers the tools for a reasonable conversation.