Transportation headlines, Monday, Nov. 5

Here is a look at some of the transportation headlines gathered by us and the Metro Library. The full list of headlines is posted on the Library’s Headlines blog, which you can also access via email subscription or RSS feed.

Service resumed on all but one line of the Long Island Railroad this morning. Photo by New York MTA, via their Flickr page.

Transit in New York area still trying to recover from Sandy (New York Times)

Long Island Railroad and New Jersey Transit commuter trains literally had to turn away riders this morning due to overcrowding as all forms of transit struggle to recover from the super storm that battered the region last Monday night. The Times describes road traffic as somewhere between “bad and terrible” today, with delays of 60 to 90 minutes on the inbound Lincoln Tunnel into Manhattan from New Jersey.

This excellent chart runs down the status of all basic services in the New York area, including transit. The New York subway is mostly back, with only four lines still out. The PATH trains between New Jersey and Lower Manhattan are also still out of service.

As for the gasoline shortage, it continues and may take more time to ease. This Fortune blog post asks the question whether the shortage was preventable but more importantly fully explains the supply chain that gets gas from refineries to vehicles and how the storm tore that chain apart. Finally, here’s an excellent photo gallery from the New Yorker on the storm.

A line at a gas station in Brooklyn on Sunday morning. Photo by Karen Blumberg, via Flickr creative commons.

Pay lanes: a first for L.A. County will start Saturday (Daily News)

Metro officials say the ExpressLanes that open on the 110 this week and on the 10 early next year will help increase capacity on both roads by selling surplus space in the carpool lanes. Critics say people who have been helping all along by carpooling will be unfairly punished by having to get transponders.

What has President Obama done to improve American transportation policy? (Streetsblog Network)

The answer from Streetsblog writer Tanya Snyder: big ideas but not enough follow-through. Praise comes for installing Ray LaHood as U.S. Transportation Secretary, a push for more sustainable communities and swinging for the fences with high-speed rail, albeit that was a program mostly defeated. The criticism comes for not appeasing Republicans by finding revenue streams to pay for ambitious spending increases on the transpo front.

Measure J still worthwhile, despite possible fare hikes (L.A. Times)

The Times’ editorial page supports Measure J for a second time, this time in response to allegations by the Bus Riders Union that Measure J will automatically lead to higher fares.

The delusion about Measure J tells you a lot about L.A. (L.A. Observed)

Mark Lacter says lawmakers are too fixated on big transit projects that will takes years to build instead of making incremental changes that could ease traffic now.

Measure J will create jobs and help the environment (Huffington Post)

Occidental political professor Peter Dreier says J would help L.A. dig its way out of the recession and get more people out of cars and onto buses and trains.

Ron Kaye: Unraveling Measure J (Glendale News-Press)

The former Daily News editor is against Measure J, saying it’s premature. He gets the counterpoint from Glendale Council Member and Metro Board Member Ara Najarian.

 

13 replies

  1. I kept looking for a “Page 2” of the Mark Lacter article. Is that seriously all he can come up with? I don’t see a single suggestion for what these “incremental changes” would be. Additionally he seems to focus on traffic mitigation, which is NOT why we should be passing Measure J – what it does is provide alternatives to sitting on the freeway (take a look at NYC, London, DC, etc. – all terrible traffic and excellent transportation systems).

    And finishing it off, he adds a healthy dose of irony by complaining that Measure J only offers “long-term solutions” – when in fact the entire purpose of the measure is to turn the rail projects into short-term solutions that will be finished within our lifetimes!

    All in all, what has convinced me to vote for Measure J is not the “pro” articles, but the feeble attempts at formulating a “con” articles. They have all either come across as extremely out-of-touch (Lacter article, LA Weekly) or extremely selfish (anti-710 tunnel, Beverly Hills City Council, etc).

  2. Too often I heard that the LACMTA has the lowest transit fares among the large cities in US. Well, I couldn’t say it’s wrong since in the major cities, only San Antonio’s fares are cheaper than LA, but I think this statement does not provide a complete picture. While LACMTA has the lowest fares, it has the least favorable fare ratio between single ride and monthly pass. Here is brief list to show the problem,

    New York MTA
    Single ride: 2.25; Monthly pass: 104.00; Ratio: 1:46.22

    LACMTA
    Single ride: 1.50; Monthly pass: 75.00; Ratio: 1:50

    Chicago CTA
    Single ride: 2.25; Monthly pass: 86.00; Ratio: 1:38.22

    Houston METRO
    Single ride: 1.25; Monthly pass: doesn’t have?

    Philadelphia SEPTA
    Single ride: 2.00; Monthly pass: 83.00; Ratio: 1:41.5

    Phoenix Valley Metro
    Single ride: 1.75; Monthly pass: 55.00; Ratio: 1:31.43

    San Antonio VIA
    Single ride: 1.10; Monthly pass: 30.00; Ratio: 1:27.27

    San Diego MTS (bus)
    Single ride: 2.25; Monthly pass: 72.00; Ratio: 1:32

    Dallas DART
    Single ride: 1.75; Monthly pass: 65.00; Ratio: 1:37.14

    San Jose VTA
    Single ride: 2.00; Monthly pass: 70.00; Ratio: 1:35

    Also, if I remember correctly, ten years ago, LACMTA’s single ride fare is 1.35, now is 1.50, the increase is only around 10%; however, the monthly pass increases from 42.00 to 75.00, nearly doubled.

    I think LACMTA should adjust the ratio between single ride and monthly pass, so the passengers are more likely to use pass. It would save a lot of time on the bus lines.

    • Hi T.Z.;

      Thanks for the comment and compiling the numbers. Interesting, for sure, and I appreciate you taking the time to get the info.

      I think one additional point I would make is that of the very large transit systems listed (N.Y., Chicago and Philly), L.A. Metro has the least expensive monthly pass. Even if the ratio is higher than some would like, the total cost is still very competitive.

      Nonetheless, I think you raise an interesting point about the ratio. I don’t know if it’s a deterrent to sales, but it’s certainly fair/wise to ask the question.

      Steve Hymon
      Editor, The Source

  3. @Mmatasci

    I agree and there is some comedy to be read. Mark Lacter’s article suggests that incremental improvements should be made as if that will somehow make a difference. He states both “Long-term planning is easy – at least it’s easier than dealing with the extremely messy present.” and “Trouble is, the long view does nothing to help resolve the current traffic problems…”.

    Wow, and he calls Measure J delusional. He is essentially saying, Please no one make a plan to make any long term plans because they are too easy.

    What would he say if there wasn’t any planning and Metro could just pick a route and steam roll ahead to fix the messy present. Or perhaps he is a transportation Luddite.

    I suspect his general underlying philosophy is that tax increases are bad in any situation.

    I will have to agree that the Katz comment about fares was not very smart. His comment about Carmageddon is painful imagine living through that every day or every weekend.

  4. LA does have one of the lowest fares compared to other cities, but the cityscape of LA is also vastly different from other US cities that it’s really illogical to apply the same fare concepts as others.

    Most other cities in the US are built to “live in the suburbs, work in Downtown” scheme. LA however, is a very dense city with a wide range of residential and business areas spread throughout the LA Basin.

    We have people living in the SFV and working in DTLA, while at the same time we also have people living in Compton and working at Vernon. For the person traveling from the SFV onto the Orange Line and transferring to the Red Line into Downtown LA, paying a $75 monthly pass is a terrific deal. But for the person living in Compton and working close by at the factories in Vernon, the $75 monthly pass is a total rip-off.

    There has to be more fairness put into the system for the sake that LA is very different from other cities in the US.

  5. Most of the other agencies with high base fares are agencies that offer transfer. Metro has a $5 day pass, which is great if you are traveling all day as a tourist or have a lot of things to do, or are traveling from say Chatsworth to Long Beach, not so great if you just want to go 3 miles but happen to require two buses to make the trip.

    The pro-distance based fares people will likely chime in, but for a bus network this is horrible to manage. Imagine if you forgot to tap out and instead of getting charged $1.00 for your trip you got charged $8 because you got on at the start of the route. This is what happens on Golden Gate Transit if you forget to tap out. If you board in Sausalito and want to go to San Rafael and don’t tap out, that $1.80 trip just cost you $6.40. And don’t expect to get any sympathy from the card service center, either.

  6. what i’m afraid of is the valley being left out of any rail options for the next 60 years… again the valley gets thrown under. kinda messed up given the amount of traffic and potential for ridership out here…

  7. I want to use the ratio between single ride and monthly pass to show something. Here are some very general concepts. Each year we have 52 weeks, and each week we have five working days. Thus, we have 260 working days in a year in general (52×5=260). There are 12 months in a year, so we have 21.67 working days per month on average (260/12=21.67). Assuming a working person rides the public transportation to work without transfer, he or she will ride 43.34 times per month on average(21.67×2=43.34, one trip to work in the morning, one trip back to home in the evening). Thus, the best ratio between single ride fare and monthly pass fare should be below 1:43.34. If the fares are structured like this, a monthly pass would save money for anyone who works five days a week. This is more likely to encourage the use of pass over cash.

  8. “Imagine if you forgot to tap out and instead of getting charged $1.00 for your trip you got charged $8 because you got on at the start of the route.”

    I really don’t see this is a big deal. It’s not so hard to put up sticker signs that say “don’t forget to TAP-out” on or near the doors so people are reminded to do that as they get off the bus. Transit TV can finally be used for something important like running informative commercials like “Remember: TAP-in and don’t forget to TAP-out.”

    • Speaking from personal experience (living in Taipei and riding Taipei metro), if you forget to tap out and somehow manage to exit due to a gate malfunction – usually gates are closed, so you have to tap to exit – what happens the next time you try to tap in is that your card won’t work. You’ll get a loud beep, the gates stay closed, and you go to the nearby customer service center (there’s one by every entrance/exit) to find out why. They’ll tell you that you forgot to tap out and “tap” you out there, charging the minimum distance amount to your card (which was 25NTD when I lived there, about $.85?). Then you’re free to continue your trip. The entire process took about 2 minutes.

      Anna Chen
      The Source, Contributor

  9. And in Singapore, it’s pretty hard not to realize that one has to tap in when boarding the bus and tap out when getting off the bus as everyone else is doing it. You learn from how others are riding the bus. If you’re somehow inattentive to what others are doing as they get off the bus and completely forget to tap out, well consider the full fare deducted as an one-time education fee to learn from your mistake.

    If your card deducts the full $1.50 when you could’ve just gotten by with only $0.80 because you forgot to TAP out, the $0.70 is your “education fee” to not to do that again, unless you’re completely fine with wasting $0.70 each time you forget to TAP out. Most likely, people will learn rather quickly that TAP-out is important to save money each time they ride the bus for shorter rides.

  10. But there are not going to be discounts for short distances with no fare increase for longer distances. Rather there will be fare increases for longer distances. The Golden Gate Transit example (an example on bus, by the way, where there are no turnstiles or station agents to restrict flow) is somewhat exaggerated because this is for a bus that is traveling from San Francisco to Santa Rosa, 60 miles away, but Metro has long lines like the 761 from Sylmar to Westwood where I could easily see a $3 or $4 fare being charged for someone making the whole journey, in order to make up for people riding for two or three miles and paying only 75 cents. They have to make the money up from somewhere, the lowered fares don’t pay for themselves in terms of added riders.