Friday, January 26, 2018

No Wrinkle In Time

FT has a good interview with Jared Walker which touches on my various obsessions (free, have to register, sorry).

But, of course, not everyone wants to do that and lots of people are used to living in places where that’s physically impossible because of the way communities have been designed, and so, of course, we perceive this last mile problem. It’s not a problem you have in the middle of London, of course. You can get close to where you’re going and it’s very easy to walk even a mile to your destination. So we first have to understand what that problem is really about and who’s really having that problem. And then we have to ask, okay, what can we do efficiently? And the reality is, you have to have the Tube, you have to have high-quality rapid transit. You have to have high-quality bus services because only they can move people the long distances in a way that uses space efficiently. The idea of a car that’s going to pick you up at your house and take you to your destination across the city is always only going to be viable for an elite because there isn’t room for everyone to do that; there physically isn’t room.


I’ve been hearing that all my life; these are all ideas I’ve always been hearing. All my career, people have been writing to me, saying, have you seen this cool new technology? Won’t that change everything about public transport? And my answer is always, and unless it actually helps us run high-capacity fixed-route vehicles more efficiently, the answer is no. There’s no other way to move so many people in so little space as conventional fixed-route public transport: rail and bus. And we know that geometrically and once we know that geometrically, we know that it’s not going to change.