Public transit consultant Jarrett Walker says the value of his work with municipalities around the world is never predicated on delivering his own recommendation. Instead, he says he “fosters conversations, leading to confident decisions”.
That might get his firm Jarrett Walker + Associates the job. But as he demonstrates during this enlightening and entertaining chat — Price Talks’ second live recording at Gord’s West End apartment —”convening people in the presence of reality” is Walker’s true skill.
What does that look like? He discloses some of his interdisciplinary secret sauce, various processes and approaches to helping North American cities re-think how to move people. And some of it sounds very much like child’s play.
Walker is well familiar with Metro Vancouver’s complex political, geographic, and fiscal environments for transportation-related capital projects — he worked and lived here a decade ago as consultant to TransLink — and has some compelling advice for the audience.
(An auspicious collection of academics, advocates, and regional and municipal government leaders, with journalist and knitter non-pareil Frances Bula keeping everyone honest. Listen closely to the questions, and play a little game of “who’s who”.)
One such nugget: get over your reluctance to fight for municipal self-determination in transit. Another one, eminently Google-able for extra colour and context: take on the ‘elite projections’ of technocrats like Elon Musk when discussing what the future of transportation should look like.
Oh, and of course a few thoughts on ride-hailing. On Uber and Lyft: “People who can afford it become completely addicted to it. And it only works as long as not many people use it. It can strangle the city.”