Photo by Jacki Schaefer, http://www.wateroakstudio.com

Photo by Jacki Schaefer, http://www.wateroakstudio.com

I love cities, and I believe that effective transit is part of what makes great cities work. I live in Downtown Houston and rely on transit and walking for most of my daily trips.

I'm an engineer who works with architects doing planning, I'm a Vice President and Director of Planning at Huitt-Zollars, a consulting firm with offices across the United States. I've done land use and transportation plans in a variety of settings, including a mixed-use district plan in Downtown Houston, citywide land use policy in Sugar Land, TX, a multimodal medical center access plan in El Paso, a transit-oriented development master plan in Seattle, a Livable Centers Plan in Rosenberg, a new bike plan for Houston, and transit planning in St. Paul. My recent work includes park planning for the Houston Parks Board and the Buffalo Bayou Partnership and project management of a consortium of researchers addressing flooding in Houston.

I'm also a Senior Lecturer at Rice University, where I teach transportation in both the architecture and engineering schools. I'm a past editorial committee chair for Cite Magazine, where I wrote about transportation and urban planning.

From 2010 to 2018, I was a member of the board of directors of Houston's Metropolitan Transit Authority of Harris County (METRO), which operates local bus, commuter bus, and light rail. I pushed for, and then oversaw, the Transit System Reimagining process, a blank sheet re-design of the entire bus system. As a result of that, Houston is increasing transit ridership as most cities -- even transit-oriented cities like New York --  are losing riders. We've also opened three new light rail lines and we have a new BRT line under construction.

I'm also a member of the American Public Transit Association's Sustainability and Urban Design Working Group, which drafts national standards on transit and urban design, a contributor to NACTO's Transit Street Design Guide, a member of the Central Houston Transportation Committee, and a board member at TransitCenter in New York.

In writing this book, I've photographed every rail transit systems in the 50 United States, and talked to transit agency staff, elected officials, and transit advocates around the country.

-Christof Spieler