Transportation headlines, Monday, April 15

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.

ART OF TRANSIT: Here's a nice one for a drizzly morning, taken last week near the Expo Line's new bridge over Cloverfield Boulevard in Santa Monica. Photo by Expo Line Fan, via submission. Click above to visit his photostream of Expo Phase 2 construction photos.

ART OF TRANSIT: Here’s a nice one to distract you from a drizzly morning, taken last week near the Expo Line’s new bridge over Cloverfield Boulevard in Santa Monica. Photo by Expo Line Fan, via submission. Click above to visit Expo Line Fan’s Flickr page of Expo Phase 2 construction photos.

A one-man sanitation engineer for the busway (L.A. Times)

Nice Steve Lopez column about a 64-year-old man whose daily 5:30 a.m. walks have turned into a mission to pick up trash along the western portion of the Orange Line. Unfortunately, there’s no shortage of trash, nor is there an easy explanation for why some public trashcans along the busway are overflowing.

Traffic experts don’t like Garcetti’s traffic idea (LA Weekly)

In last week’s mayoral debate, Councilman Eric Garcetti tossed an idea out there as an example of outside-the-box thinking: what if the city raised $1 million in private funds and offered it as a reward to someone who could solve Los Angeles’ notorious traffic?

The Weekly picked up the phone and gave some well-known traffic academics around the area a jingle, asking them what they thought of Garcetti’s idea. Very little, it turns out. The academics say that there are plenty of good ideas out there — one-way streets, more congestion pricing, higher gas taxes, limits on who can drive on particular days, parking and development reforms — but the problem is that politicians don’t want to implement them because all reforms end up ticking someone off.

A missionary’s quest to remake the Motor City (N.Y. Times)

Check out the lede of this story, journalism fans:

The best way to experience all that is strange and a little otherworldly about downtown Detroit is to walk the streets around 5 p.m. on a weekday. At that hour, you’ll notice not just the peculiarity of what is around you — notably, the gorgeous, Art Deco skyscrapers alongside empty, decrepit buildings — but also what is missing. There is no traffic here. As the workday ends, cars trickle out of underground parking lots and speed off to nearby highways, but in a volume that doesn’t cause delays.

It is just one small sign of how far Detroit’s fortunes have fallen: the birthplace of the mass-produced automobile, the city that gave us the infuriating, bumper-to-bumper commute, is now so sparsely populated that it doesn’t have a rush hour.

The article is about Dan Gilbert, the founder and chairman of Quicken Loans, and his attempt to revive downtown Detroit, which like the rest of the city is in the doldrums these days due to a precipitous drop in population, employment and local government’s ability to pay for anything. My three cents: every time I read one of these Detroit stories, I just want to  watch “RoboCop” again. The original, btw, was made in 1987 and maybe it wasn’t just a dumb, fun action flick after all! 🙂

What if you could decide how your tax dollars were spent? (N.Y. Times)

As the story notes, Americans fail to see their taxes as money well-spent. Excerpt:

Why the hatred? One reason is that it’s not easy for people to see how taxes provide benefits. One survey that asked Americans whether they had used any government social programs found many saying they hadn’t — when in fact, a majority had taken advantage of tax deductions for mortgage interest or child care. Fifty-three percent had taken out student loans, and 40 percent had benefited from Medicare. Clearly, the government has a marketing problem.

And the solution: The co-authors propose allowing taxpayers to choose how some of their taxes should be spent — i.e. on anit-poverty programs, the military or even transportation!

The idea is that many people actually gain satisfaction from giving – they just want to know how their gift is being used. And how is your tax money being used now? Check out this nifty tool from the White House website.

One man’s journey from Los Angeles to Real Madrid’s good luck charm (Sports Illustrated)

Nice story about how a Metro used his vacation time to haul equipment for the Real Madrid soccer club and befriending team manager Jose Mourinho.

6 replies

  1. “nor is there an easy explanation for why some public trashcans along the busway are overflowing”

    Maybe because Metro doesn’t spend the money to have janitors take out the trash frequently?

    Who writes these articles? It’s common sense. You slack off in taking out the trash, it piles up! Duh.

    Is Homer Simpson running Metro?

  2. Metro doesn’t have the funds to hire an army of janitors. All of it has to come out of their annual budget. And their annual budget is fixed because it’s run solely on taxpayers’ money. The sorry state of their stations are good examples of the limitations of Metro.

    If Metro were to be run like a business and began to be serious about making profit, they can have the financial resources to hire more janitors to keep the place clean everyday instead of relying one old man to do the job.

    Make these stations earn income on their own. Start making money off of stations with ad space and adding in businesses and retail space so that they can directly operate there. Collect revenues and rent. Once the money starts flowing in, Metro can then hire janitors to keep the place neat and tidy on a more frequent basis. That’s how all businesses operate. Look at how other businesses that deal with lots of people throughout the day operate like the shopping mall or the airports. They make money on their own. In turn, they put a portion from those profits into hiring an army of janitors to keep the place neat every hour and every night.

    The answer is plain and simple, Metro should look into making profit on their own. Isn’t there anyone working at Metro who has had experience in the private sector?

  3. If I remember correctly, in “Robocop” they privatized the police force and ended up with more crime in the city. So if science fiction teaches us anything about urban planning, watch out for plans to privatize Metro!

  4. I don’t think Metro is responsible for trash along the Orange line. I believe it might be the City of Los Angeles or LADOT.

  5. The fear of Metro going for-profit is Hollywood action movies? Talk about a strawman statement!

    I see no problem in Metro going for-profit. But it doesn’t have to be privatized either. I agree Metro can stand to do much better in making their own money.

    “I don’t think Metro is responsible for trash along the Orange line. I believe it might be the City of Los Angeles or LADOT.”

    You need janitors to take the bulk of the trash to the dumpster first before waste management comes. Waste management don’t do that; people do.

  6. Irene- agreed – I should have paid closer attention to the context of the original comment. I was referring to the trash along the bike path area, which I recall from a previous article, is not maintained by Metro, but rather LADOT.

    You are absolutely right regarding trashcans.