Transit Planning and Resident Behavior: New Research

By Jessie Feller Hahn, Executive Director, Meeting of the Minds

Jessie Feller Hahn is the Executive Director of Meeting of the Minds where she is responsible for identifying global urban sustainability, innovation, technology best practices and thought leadership, developing platforms for city leaders to share lessons learned, and building alliances and partnerships across and within sectors.

I caught up with Manuel Santana Palacios last week to discuss his recent research as a PhD candidate at UC Berkeley at the Department of City and Regional Planning with Dan Chatman. His research looks at equity within the bus rapid transit and private transportation networks in Barranquilla, Colombia and Cape Town, South Africa. His interviews with residents shed light on the tension between what planners and policy makers think will best serve residents and the factors that drive transportation behavior among residents. A few takeaways:

  1. Planners arrive with an assumption that large-scale transportation infrastructure project solves vexing challenges that are most pressing for residents such as a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions and safety when in fact, what residents really need are shorter travel times and affordability.
  2. Trunk-feeder BRT systems deliver more equitable outcomes in cities with long trunk corridors. This particular urban form compensates for additional transfer times which are often induced by the trunk-feeder BRTs.
  3. We need to seize this moment to really deliver transportation that meets the needs of residents. Otherwise, getting them to return to public transit after Covid-19 is over will be really difficult.

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