Buzzer logo

TransLink news, commentary, and behind-the-scenes stories.

9 books to read about transit

9 books to read about transit

National Read A Book Day is observed annually on September 6th
National Read A Book Day is observed annually on September 6th.

Let’s be honest, books are man’s best friend. They don’t let us down, they allow us to immerse ourselves in them, they don’t judge, and, they last forever (if you take care of them)!

September 6th is National Read a Book Day and we thought we’d curate a list of books about transit. Fellow transit enthusiasts will give an enthusiastic shout, but this list isn’t just for us transit lovers. Some of them are far more than JUST transit. Some take on a philosophical look at life through the lens of transit – why? Because, people are always on the move, in transit. And this characteristic of us humans is what defines cities, and countries.

So, without further ado, we bring to you these top 9 books about transit.

1. Happy City

Award-winning Canadian (East Vancouver, to be precise) journalist Charles Montgomery finds answers to such questions at the intersection between urban design and the emerging science of happiness, during an exhilarating journey through some of the world’s most dynamic cities.

2. Straphanger

On a journey that takes him to New York, Moscow, Paris, Copenhagen, Tokyo, Bogotá, Phoenix, Portland, Vancouver, and Philadelphia, Vancouver-raised author Taras Grescoe gets the inside story on the world’s great transit systems. Who are straphangers, you might wonder? These are people who give up driving to take public transit. This book takes a look at the damage our cities have undergone thanks to car-centric planning. Fun tip: Read our interview with Taras for I Love Transit Week in 2012!

3. The Life and Death of Great American Cities

American-Canadian journalist and author Jane Jacobs’ 1961 book is probably one of the most influential books in the history of American city planning. Jacobs coined the terms “social capital”, and “mixed primary uses” which were later adopted in the field of urban design.

4. Walkable City

Jeff Speck is a city planner and urban designer who, through writing, lectures, and built work, advocates internationally for more walkable cities. This book takes a look at how walkability can save cities, and countries.

5. Human Transit

Author Jarrett Walker is a transit planner who helps design transit networks and policies. Walker lived in Vancouver for a bit, and this book looks argues how good public transit can turn even non-users into advocates.


6. Streetfight

Author Janette Sadik-Khan is New York City’s transportation commissioner and a leading voice on urban transportation policy. She is credited with transforming the city’s streets into a safe place for pedestrians and cyclists.


7. NACTO: Transit Street Design Guide

This isn’t just any transit book. This is a transit planner’s dream that tells us how important streets are to our cities. This book is a blueprint to make cities safer, walkable, dynamic, transit-friendly, and livable.

8. The High Cost of Free Parking

In his 2005 book, author Donald Shoup recommended that cities should (1) charge fair market prices for on-street parking, (2) spend the revenue to benefit the metered neighborhoods, and (3) remove off-street parking requirements.


9. Blackberry Subway Jam (Jonathan Cleaned Up…)

This book is about a little boy whose house got made into a subway station. Author Robert Munsch has written more than 25 books for children. In this gem, once the train stops at Jonathan’s house, thousands of commuters pour out. What did little Jonathan do? Read the book to find out!

What are your favourite books about transit? Tell us in the comments section, or follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram! If transit books aren’t your thing, here are some bookstores that are easily accessible by transit – you can read to your heart’s content.

With recommendations from Allen Tung, Derrick Swallow, and David Cooper.

Author: Tanushree Pillai


Sorry, your website browser is no longer supported.

Upgrade to one of these browsers to visit