Jarrett Walker

Jarrett Walker is an international consultant in public transport planning and policy, including the links between transport and all aspects of community planning and urban structure.  His clients include transport authorities, cities, developers, and non-profits – anyone who wants to make better use of public transport as a tool to support resilient communities, individual liberty, and social inclusion.

In his 28 years of consulting, Jarrett has worked on more than 200 public transport planning projects in North America, Europe, Australia, and New Zealand, in more than 100 cities, from small towns to major metro areas. Many of these network designs have been successfully implemented.

Jarrett’s firm has built a strong track record in a range of transport planning and policy issues, including local-regional transport integration, flexible services planning, and innovative public involvement. JWA staff have worked extensively on the integration of public transport into community planning at all scales, from the design of new developments to the structure of an urban region. Their work covers the spectrum of planning perspectives, from visionary urbanism to operational detail.

Jarrett is also known for his work educating stakeholders about the choices that public transport requires, building clear public consultation processes, and helping organizations form coherent and implementable transport goals. Since 2009 he has written and edited HumanTransit.org, which has grown into a well-respected collection of articles explaining key transport concepts and emerging issues.


PhD, Humanities and Theatre Arts, Stanford University, 1996

Bachelor of Arts cum laude, Mathematics and Computer Science, Pomona College, 1984.


Book:  Human Transit: How Clearer Thinking about Public Transit Can Enrich Our Communities and Our Lives.  Island Press, 2011.

Scholarly Papers:

  • “Purpose-driven public transport: creating a clear conversation about public transport goals.”  Journal of Transport Geography, 16 (6): 436-432.
  • 2018 “To Predict with Confidence, Plan for Freedom,” Journal of Public Transportation, 21 (1): 119-127

Many articles on public transport topics in news publications, including the Washington Post, the Sydney Morning Herald, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, The Atlantic, and The Times (Ireland).

Transport Network Design Studies

Jarrett has led network design tasks for major cities and large suburban areas on multiple continents.

  • Chicago, IL (2020-present)
  • Moscow, Russia (2016, 2020-present)
  • Dublin, Ireland (2017-2019)
  • Auckland, New Zealand (2012-2018)
  • San Jose, CA (Silicon Valley) (2015-2018)
  • Richmond, Virginia (2015-2018)
  • Houston (METRO) (2013-2015)
  • Indianapolis, Indiana (2013-2016)
  • Columbus, Ohio (2013-2014)
  • … and many others.

The Auckland, Houston, San Jose, Richmond, Indianapolis, San Jose and Columbus networks are fully implemented and achieving patronage growth. Before founding JWA, Jarrett’s work included successful network revisions in Sydney, Canberra, San Antonio, and many parts of California.

Small-City and Rural Service Design

In the 1990s-2000s Jarrett designed transport networks for more than 35 small cities and rural areas across the western U.S.  In the 1990s he worked on such plans in 50 of California’s 58 counties.

Transport for Campus and College-Town Environments

Jarrett has done extensive planning for the special environments of college and university towns.  His work directly for universities includes campus shuttle studies for Stanford University and Washington State University, and for numerous small cities where large universities drive public transport demand, including Fort Collins, Colorado; Davis, California; San Luis Obispo, California; Corvallis, Oregon; Bellingham, Washington; Toowoomba, Australia and Canberra, Australia.

Bus Rapid Transport (BRT)

Jarrett’s consulting work on BRT and transport priority includes:

  • Portland, Oregon, Enhanced Transport Corridors project (2018-present).
  • Mecca, Saudi Arabia. Consulting on Bus Rapid Transport strategies (2014).
  • Auckland, New Zealand. Studies on BRT feasibility and options for two BRT corridors, including Auckland-Botany-Manukau and Henderson-Albany (2008-10).
  • Visakhapatnam, India. Provided on-site expertise on design and alignment options for a proposed BRT network for the city (2008).
  • Berkeley, California. Operations plan for the Telegraph/International BRT project (2005).
  • San Antonio, Texas. Pre-feasibility and network planning for the Via Primo BRT (2002).

Jarrett has also led numerous bus network revisions whose purpose was to adapt the bus network to new BRT or priority investments and spread the benefits of those investments beyond the project areas, across the network.

Long-Range Planning

Jarrett has led long-range transport network and policy planning processes for a range of urban areas, including:

  • Tucson, Arizona (2018)
  • Raleigh, North Carolina (2015) leading to successful 2016 funding referendum.
  • Indianapolis, Indiana (2014) leading to successful 2016 funding referendum.
  • Canberra, Australia (2008)
  • Vancouver, British Columbia (2005-6 and 2011)

These projects have synthesized short-term political and financial challenges with the long-term challenges of growth.  All have included recommendations regarding new ways for transport agencies to work together with municipalities to achieve common goals.

Transport Policy Development and Facilitation

Jarrett is a recognized innovator in the area of public transport policy.  Much of this work is intended to increase the transparency of public transport agencies, by helping stakeholders and citizens understand the real choices involved in transport planning.  This policy development work has been an important part of recent projects in Toronto, Vancouver, Houston, Portland, Canberra, and Los Angeles, among other cities.

He has developed tools for helping elected officials and policymakers provide clear direction about their public transport goals, including the mathematical trade-off between productivity and coverage.

Jarrett and his firm have developed a variety of innovative tools, including “planning games” that allow participants to experience the challenges of designing a transport system, using simplified geography and budgeting. These tools facilitate transport conversations for short- and long-range plans and transport network redesigns.

Service Branding

Jarrett has done original work on the definition and branding of Frequent Transport Networks – the subset of a transport agency’s services that run every 15 minutes or better all day.

Jarrett’s work on service branding integrates diverse efforts – marketing, transport planning, land use planning, and street infrastructure – around a common vision for a region’s permanent transport network that includes not just rapid transport services (like BRT or light rail) but also productive, frequent local bus routes. He has developed policies relating to this concept with many agencies, including those in Brisbane, Canberra, Vancouver, Portland, Seattle, Minneapolis and San Francisco. He has also helped refine and implement Frequent Service brands for networks in San Francisco, San Antonio and Vancouver (BC).

Bus-Rail Integration

Jarrett was a lead planner on bus-rail integration issues in Seattle, Salt Lake City, and Sacramento, and handled bus-rail integration issues for many of the studies listed above.  He was also a planner on studies comparing rail and bus options for corridors in San Francisco, Portland, and Oakland-Berkeley.  He was responsible for bus-rail integration planning in the station area redesign plans for TransLink in Vancouver in 2005-2006.

Teaching and Training

Jarrett taught humanities courses while pursuing his PhD, and also taught the graduate-level course in Public Transportation Systems at the University of California, Berkeley, in 2002.

He now provides a wide range of training services, mostly in the form of his Interactive Short Course in Public Transport Network Design. This two-day course is an interactive workshop in which students design networks for a range of situations, and discover for themselves the trade-offs that transport requires them to think about. Jarrett has offered this course more than 20 times, including sessions in New York City, Washington DC, Toronto, Vancouver, Portland, Seattle, Sydney, Melbourne, Auckland and Canberra.  He has also conducted staff training for the World Bank.

Public Speaking

Jarrett has done major keynotes or plenary speeches at countless conferences, including:

  • Congress for the New Urbanism (US)
  • American Public Transportation Association
  • UITP Australia/New Zealand
  • New Zealand Planning Institute
  • Transport Research Annual Conference (Dublin)
  • CEDEUS (Chile)
  • RailVolution (US)
  • Shared Use Mobility Summit (US)
  • State/province public transport conferences in California, Oregon, Washington, Minnesota, and British Columbia.

He is a frequent speaker for local economic development organizations and transport initiatives.  He has led numerous webinars and is has been interviewed on transport issues in many major media, including the BBC, RTÉ, Fox Business, US National Public Radio, Australian Broadcasting Corporation, and countless local media outlets in all the countries in which he has worked.