Christof Spieler

Author - "Trains, Buses, People" & Vice President and Director of Planning at Huitt-Zollars

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. Along with an amazing team that includes Mandi Chapa, David Copeland Loredo, Ashley Whitesides, and Madeleine Pelzel, I’ve done land use and transportation plans in a variety of settings, including a bus network redesign in Fort Worth, advising on bus transformation at MBTA in Boston, planning work at SEPTA, a rail station in Austin, the City of Houston/Harris County/METRO repose to a major highway project in Houston, 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, transit planning in St. Paul, 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 increased 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 started a new BRT line that opened in 2020.

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, an advisory board member at Young Professionals in Transportation, and a board member at TransitCenter in New York.

This book reflects my views only, and not those of my employer. I have served on the board of one of the agencies in the book (Houston METRO) and done consulting work for several (MBTA, Trinity Metro, Sound Transit, METRO) but I have done my best to treat those systems no differently than any others.

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

Christof Spieler