‘Why You Ride (or Don’t Ride)‘ is a series where you, our faithful readers, share your transportation routines in L.A. and your thoughts on how to make things better – read more about the concept here.
Who You Are:
Name: Thomas B.
Occupation: Financial Consultant
Your Transportation Routine:
How often do you drive and for what purpose?
I drive four or five days a week to downtown Los Angeles for work, typically arriving by 7am and leaving at about 4pm. Sometimes I run an errand after work; however, only about once a week. An example is to pick-up dry-cleaning on the way home. I reserve my weekends for grocery shopping or for trips to places like Home Depot or Best Buy.
Where are you typically traveling from and going to?
Typically, my driving is to work, from the east side of Pasadena to downtown Los Angeles near 4th & Figueroa.
How many vehicles do you or your family have?
Two vehicles, a four-door sedan and a hybrid SUV.
How long does your commute typically take?
The earlier I leave the better. If I leave from home at 6am, I can get to my office desk in 25-30 minutes. After 7am, I give myself no less than 40-45 minutes to do the same.
Briefly, how would you describe your typical driving experience? Love it, deal with it, or hate it?
I deal with it.
On average, what do you spend each month on transportation?
$300 – $500
Do you use any forms of alternative transportation?
Yes. Friday’s are the best days to take the Gold Line into downtown Los Angeles, and then transfer to the Red Line at Union Station. The trains have fewer riders and I avoid the congestion on the way home heading to Las Vegas.
Why do you drive?
Relative to my work commute, I drive because I got tired of being on crowded Gold line trains for a 30 minute ride from Union Station to the Sierra Madre station on the way home.
Why can’t/don’t you take transit?
Up until early this year I was a regular rider on the Gold Line. I had a short walk to the Sierra Madre station and an even shorter one to my office building. But, I gave up on the trains for the trip home.
Beforehand, I tolerated the occasional panhandler, smaller seats and the bikes, but when Spring arrived, the trains seemed to be carrying more riders and even more bikes. That is great for transit and being ‘green’ and all, but I was not able to get a seat as often as I liked and a lot of times I ended up standing amongst those same bikes.
Have you tried to use transit before? What was your experience?
I have been a solid transit user for 27 years. It started in grade school, then really hit stride once I began college, and then for work. I have had many good experiences and very few bad ones. All-in-all, my daily routine had less stress. My favorite experiences are just arriving at a bus stop or train station and seeing the bus or train approach. Then, being able to read a good newspaper or magazine article.
What could local transit agencies do to encourage you to take transit more often?
Bigger seats on the trains and somehow provide more capacity. I have seen the Gold line with longer trains. Running more trains would help a lot too.
Keeping bikes off the trains is an option, but realistically, I understand that that is not being ‘green’ and probably would only provide a marginal amount of space for actual people. On another hand, space should cost money and people taking up space with a bike should probably pay a higher fare.
How do you feel about buses?
I probably wouldn’t ride a bus.
How do you feel about rail?
I’d ride rail if it there was a route that served my needs.
Given limited funds, how would you address L.A.’s transportation issues?
As a financial consultant, I understand the limits of the region to provide new services and maintain the ones we already have.
Bottom-line, penalize driving and secure more funding.
Local governments should 1) replace minimum parking requirements for new developments WITH caps on the amount of parking that should be provided. Providing space for cars creates the false argument that there is enough roadway capacity to serve them. There isn’t! 2) On-street parking fees should be increased at rush hour times to provide a dis-incentive driving; however, not for revenue generation.
Regionally, some type of transportation management fee that is collected at the gas pump should be implemented too, such as a $1 fee for every time someone puts a gas pump into their car. The fees should go toward maintaining the roadways, but also for managing congestion and supporting congestion relieving strategies, such as providing alternatives to driving with additional rail projects, more trains, and paying for their operation.
I feel an additional sales tax measure has the un-intended consequence of affecting lower income persons too much. Further, lower income persons do not have the flexibility to take advantage of other non-taxed purchasing options, such as via online shopping.