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Town Hall Seattle: Civics Series

Town Hall’s Civics series highlights everything from local policies to world politics. These events offer perspectives on a range of topics as diverse as Seattle itself—a bustling forum for activism, discovery, and thought-provoking discussion.

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Oct 31, 2019

In the US, the 25 largest metropolitan areas have fixed guideway rail or bus transit systems. Nearly all of them are talking about expanding—yet according to architecture and engineering expert Christof Spieler, discussions about transit are still remarkably unsophisticated. Spieler brought us his vision of some of the most important discussion in transportation, encapsulated in his book Trains, Buses, People: An Opinionated Atlas of US Transit. He focused the discussion on quality of service (not the technology that delivers it), the role of surrounding infrastructure, the diversity of riders, and the critical importance of ensuring transit systems access the right places. Spieler contended that geography, politics, and history have a tendency to complicate transit planning, and showed us how unique circumstances in individual major cities have resulted in the rise of very different transit systems nationwide. With accessible viewpoints for citizens, professionals, and policymakers alike, Spieler presented us with a comprehensive and understandable evaluation of our nation’s transit networks—their history, their future, what makes them effective, and how they can improve.

Christof Spieler has spent over a decade advocating for transit as a writer, community leader, urban planner, transit board member, and enthusiast. He is Vice President and Director of Planning at Huitt-Zollars and a Lecturer in Architecture and Engineering at Rice University. He was a member of the board of directors of Houston METRO from 2010 to 2018.

Presented by Town Hall Seattle. Recorded live in the Forum at Town Hall Seattle on October 8, 2019.