Things I’m thinking about transit

San Diego relocated their baseball stadium from the 'burbs to downtown. Photo by Mark Whitt, via Flickr.

This is one of our occasional posts in which I express actual opinions…

1. Loved CicLAvia last month but I didn’t see anyone from Metro in any of the booths selling TAP cards to the masses. The cards are very useful and convenient — and I think it’s fair to say that not everyone has a TAP card yet, at least from what I see on buses and trains and what anecdotal evidence has burped out of last month’s gate-locking experiment. Big events such as CicLAvia are a good chance to get the cards distributed!

2. The Dodgers should be playing in a downtown Los Angeles ballpark that is part of the city and is easily accessible to mass transit — not sitting on an isolated hill surrounded by mall-like parking lots. The upcoming sale of the team is a chance to make that happen before a new owner sinks a lot of money into the current ballpark and developing some of the surrounding parking lots. If a downtown football stadium would benefit L.A. (and I think it would), then a downtown baseball stadium with many more games each season would be even more profitable.

Yes, I know there is a lot of sentimental attachment to Dodger Stadium among the natives (I’m a transplant). It’s a nice ballpark. But it’s not Fenway or Wrigley — the two baseball stadiums that should be preserved because they’re actually part of real neighborhoods in Boston and Chicago, respectively. The new ballparks built in the past two decades across the U.S. suggest that something could be built here that honors the past and that brings L.A. into the modern age.

3. It’s kind of interesting that none of the announced candidates in the mayor’s race in L.A. have ever served on the Metro Board of Directors. Metro is one of the nation’s largest transportation agencies and the mayor of L.A. has an automatic seat on the Board as well as the right to appoint three others to the Board. In other words, overseeing Metro and planning transit across L.A. County is a huge part of the mayor’s job.

4. I think it makes sense to first bulk up service in the evening hours on Metro Rail before adding late-night service. The next few months will be a good chance to see if the demand for more rail service at night is there. I have to admit: I’m not a late-night bar/club-goer, so it’s hard for me to say if there’s a huge demand in L.A. at 2 a.m. for rail service or if it’s something that a vocal few really want. I also know many of you disagree with me on this one.

5. I feel like I should have a strong opinion about high-speed rail in California. But I don’t. I do think the p.r. efforts on behalf of the project the past couple of years have not been good — especially the repeated proclamations about cost that didn’t seem to have any basis in reality — with the cost having gone from $33 billion to $98.5 billion. I think it’s very hard to get excited about a project with a $80-billion-plus funding gap and thus far no firm solutions how to solve it. The most realistic way to pay for it, in my view, would involve some type of user fee or tax spread across the state, but I don’t see how that’s politically possible at this time. Or maybe ever.