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A U.S. Transit Atlas That Ranks the Best (and Worst) Cities for Bus and Rail

Christof Spieler’s Trains, Buses, People: An Opinionated Atlas of U.S. Transit reveals which cities’ bus and rail systems work, and which don’t.
San Francisco's high-frequency transit is pretty extensive, but mapped against population density, the gaps are clear.
San Francisco's high-frequency transit is pretty extensive, but mapped against population density, the gaps are clear.Christof Spieler, Trains, Buses, People: An Opinionated Atlas of U.S. Transit, Island Press

When a new rail or bus line gets built in the United States, its mere opening is often cause for celebration among transit advocates. That’s understandable, given the funding gaps and political opposition that often stymie projects.

But not all trains are bound for glory, and it’s often not hard to see why. In the new book, Trains, Buses, People: An Opinionated Atlas of U.S. Transit (Island Press, $40), Christof Spieler, a Houston-based transit planner, advocate, and former METRO board member, takes stock of the state of American transit with a tough-love approach. In nearly 250 pages of full-color maps, charts, and encyclopedia-style entries, Spieler profiles the 47 American metropolitan regions that have rail or bus rapid transit to show what works, what doesn’t, and why.