Transportation headlines, Tuesday, April 16

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.

The Boston T's Park Street station. Photo by Dylan Pech, via Flickr creative commons.

The Boston T’s Park Street station in a photo taken last month. Photo by Dylan Pech, via Flickr creative commons.

Anxiety, heightened security on the ‘T’ (Boston Globe) 

The Globe’s story posted today about the city’s transit system on the day after the bombing of the Boston Marathon. Excerpt:

For many of the day’s commuters, the sight of Boston police officers, SWAT teams, National Guardsmen, and police dogs at MBTA stations around the city — and especially downtown and the Back Bay — brought a small measure of relief to a region trying to go about the business of downtown life the day after a tragedy.

At stations around the city, law enforcement officers paced up and down train platforms, rifles in hand. At Arlington Station, National Guardsmen asked commuters heading into the station to open their duffels and purses for a security check. “No guns, no bombs?” asked one as he pulled back the zipper of a backpack.

Joe Pesaturo, spokesman for the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority, said federal, state, and local law enforcement personnel were conducting random baggage checks throughout the subway system.

“Customers have been very cooperative, and we greatly appreciate their patience and understanding,” Pesaturo said this morning.

Thwart terrorism, experience CicLAvia (L.A. Streetsblog) 

From Streetsblog editor Damien Newton:

So when I look at yesterday’s tragedy and say that there’s a peaceful way Angelenos can fight back against whoever plotted and executed that attack and, it’s not something I say lightly. Think about it for a second. Terrorism is using force in some form to scare people and keep them apart. Keep people in their houses and behind closed doors. Keep people from meeting and understanding their neighbors. Keep people angry.

The idea of Livable Streets is the exact opposite.

Livable Streets is about breaking down barriers our society has accidentally (and not accidentally) created that keep people apart now. There’s no greater example of the power of Livable Streets than our own CicLAvia.

This Sunday, somewhere between 100,000 and 150,000 of your neighbors will take to the streets in Downtown and Mid-town Los Angeles and West Los Angeles. Tree Hugger might think that nobody in L.A. rides a bicycle, but we know better.

You won’t know many of the participants. But one of the many great things about CicLAvia, is you’ll probably know more of them by the end of the day. And that gives all of us a chance to make Sunday about more than a car-free trip to the beach.

Doubling efforts on Metro fare studies? (L.A. Streetsblog) 

Dana Gabbard posts a Metro staff PowerPoint given to the agency’s Citizen Advisory Committee last month on different fare scenarios. As Dana points out, Metro Board Vice Chair Diane DuBois has requested a staff report on fare structures — and that will be given as an oral report at the Metro Board’s full meeting on April 25. Just to emphasize: this report, written in February, looks at some different and obvious fare structures, including distance-based fares, time-based fares and fares based on type of payment.

I do want to emphasize that the report doesn’t propose any imminent changes to the current fare system, nor is there anything on the table at this time. Changing Metro’s fares is a long process that involves public hearings and ultimately a vote by the Metro Board of Directors.

15 replies

  1. Let’s not COMPLICATE any proposed fare structure. I favor the flat rate at all times with savings based on Day, Weekly, Monthly passes.

  2. Further, the legacy complaint from the poor who use Metro has been that they are not able to pay for monthly passes (can’t gather that much cash at one time or have to spend that wad of cash on something else, like FOOD for the family) as they live day to day and often pay the base fare each and every day. I often have seen this for my self. It is typical middle-class criticism from those who do have the wads of cash to say the base cash fare ought to be raised. This effort to keep base cash fare as low as possible goes back DECADES, before a lot of transplants ever considered arriving. The Metro Board is acting as the vast legions of bus riders have demanded, as Democracies are supposed to work. If that is termed “political,” so be it. Sorry, but most riders (not the affluent who often visit this site) see any rise in base fare as “unfair.”

  3. Sheesh. It’s like Metro makes up more excuses not to get things done.

    Here’s a good compromise solution: Why don’t we use a mix of both distance fares and passes?

    You charge a TAP card, you Tap-in, you Tap out as you make your way through the system. It deducts the proper fare based on distance traveled.

    When it reaches the current day pass rate ($5) it caps off there and it deducts no further for that day. When it reaches the monthly pass rate of ($75), it caps off there and it deducts no further for that entire month.

    This way, it brings the best of both worlds. People who travel less, only pay what they need. The people who travel more, will do the same but it caps off at the maximum day or monthly rate.

    I can come up with this idea. Why can’t Metro?

  4. Here are my rebuttals to Metro’s “disadvantages” argument against distance/zonal based fares:

    “Adds to complexity of transit use; requires tap-on/tap-off (with TAPcard) on bus and light rail”
    TAP-off isn’t hard. It takes less than a second to do. Millions of people do this everyday in London, Tokyo, Seoul, Taipei, Hong Kong and Singapore. Americans who visit there adapt to it very easily. If reminding people that TAP off is needed, just use what you already have: TransitTV to remind them that they need to TAP-off. And gates for subway and light rail stations shouldn’t turn or open if TAP-out isn’t done anyway. No brainer here.

    “Complicates enforcement (on light rail)”
    Turnstiles and fare gates that do not turn or open unless TAP-in or TAP-out. See above.

    “Complicates provision of passes: Offer separate set of passes for eachzone/price point? Offer single set of high-priced passes?”
    Capping the fares when certain price point is reached offers a similar deal as passes. 

    “Fare increase for many riders, none for others”
    Not necessarily. All you need is to introduce a price cap like stated above. London does this. When you reach a certain point, it caps off and deducts no further.

  5. Harry Kerry Jr.

    The problem is that flat rate fares is unsustainable and that inevitably, fare hikes are bound to happen. There’s no denying that it’s going to happen. How long do you think $1.50 single ride fares, $5 day passes and $75 monthly passes is going to stay that way? You can’t stick your head in the sand that this is going to remain that way forever.

    Fare hikes are bound to happen. And when that happens THE POOR ARE THE ONES THAT GET HURT THE MOST because they now have to PAY MORE for SHORTER TRIPS under a flat rate structure.

    The poor are more likely to have jobs nearby. They are the ones who live in the apartments within the inner city and have jobs at minimum wage earning jobs nearby. Are you saying you’re fine with making them PAY MORE for SHORTER RIDES? You said it yourself, the poor pays by boarding. If fares go up to $2.00, maybe $3.00, you’re fine the poor to be subjected to that?

    The most equitable way to go is make people pay by the distance. The poor who have to get to work to McDonalds a few blocks away will pay much less because they only need to pay for that few blocks of transit. That’s way better than subjecting them to be the most vulnerable with a flat rate across-the-board fare hike that affects them the most.

  6. I say we go with distance based fares. It seems to work perfectly fine in all the cities in Europe and Asia I’ve backpacked through and I had no problems with them.

    But looking at the presentation it seems Metro isn’t enthusiastic about the idea if not, with the lamest excuses they can think of.

    If the best excuse Metro has is “oh noes it adds complexity because people will have to TAP-out waaaah, run away, run away!!” like a bad Monty Python sketch, it’s not a convincing one.

    I’ve seen grade school kids in Singapore do this with no confusion at all. Does Metro think we’re dumber than Singaporean grade school kids? Many Americans visits and even live as expats in places where distance based or zone based transit systems are the norm. They adapt to it rather easily too.

    Even I, a local from LA figured out London’s zonal system and distance fares used in Delhi and Bangkok in a day, if not on the first try. You fill up your card with money, you tap-in, you tap-out. When it runs out, you fill it up again. Simple as that. It’s just like filling up a tank of gas. You fill up, you use it, near empty, you fill it up again. Does Metro think we’re too stupid to figure that out?

    If the extent of their worries about moving to distance based fares is making transit riders become accustomed to TAP-out, it clearly illustrates what a tax waste Metro is because they’re too lazy to come up with solutions for them. How about big stickers on Metro Bus exit doors reminding people to TAP out? Is that going to cost bazillions of dollars to do? Use Transit TV? What do we have those gates installed for? HELLO?

    Regular people in LA could do a better job in figuring these solutions than Metro employees. And Metro employees get paid how much with our tax dollars? C’mon, gimme a break.

  7. The architecture of the TAP card as designed is problematic at best. Metro staff are trying to make the best of a less than optimal situation that they inherited.

    I appreciate Mr. Hymon’s reassuring comment. Fares are in my observation the most difficult issue for governing boards to grapple with. And equity is in the eyes of the beholder.

  8. Dana,

    Can you explain what “the architecture of the TAP card as designed is problematic at best. Metro staff are trying to make the best of a less than optimal situation that they inherited” is?

    TAP was introduced in 2008. What problems does TAP have that other cities don’t?

  9. The whole TAP thing was a waste of tax dollars. They should’ve just waited a few years and wait until banks started issuing their own contactless cards.

    London is starting to use them for their buses and later this year, to their Underground. The London Underground uses a zonal system so it’s perfectly possible to do with bank cards.
    http://www.tfl.gov.uk/corporate/projectsandschemes/19976.aspx

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-2247521/Is-end-road-Oyster-card-London-buses-accept-pay-tap-credit-cards.html

    UTA is moving toward that too.
    http://busride.com/2012/10/distance-based-fares-change-the-game/

    So is Philadelphia and Chicago.
    http://planphilly.com/articles/2012/10/30/septa-builds-new-payment-technology-test-facility-prepares-contactless-system
    http://www.ventrachicago.com/

    More cities are thinking that dealing with proprietary contactless cards isn’t worth the hassle. Why is Metro always so late in figuring these things out? It’s like they purposely do a wait-and-see approach and by that time they realize that they messed everything up and wasted millions in tax dollars.

  10. “And equity is in the eyes of the beholder”

    Yeah, that’s what Jim Crow Laws said about separate but equal.

    Equal, in Metro’s view of the world is to make everyone pay the same price, see ain’t that fair? And we’ll make everyone pay the same price as we make more fare hikes! Mwahahahaha.

    Separate is accomplished by Metro by forcing the poor to get the worse deal than the rich white folks who live farther away. Go back to the car or pay up because we don’t need you folks.

    It’s “equal” in Metro eyes only. It’s not “equal” the way the public views it.

  11. Man, look at all these world class cities that the guy above me posted.

    Why can’t L.A. be PROACTIVE in MOVING AHEAD with NEW INNOVATING IDEAS like these?!!

  12. Because L.A. Metro is yet-another-bureaucratic-government-agency. Things move S-L-OOOOOOO-W as hell in the government world because everything has to be done with the budget they are given and no one invests money into them.

    In contrast, things move faster in the corporate world because investors pump money into them by buying shares of their company, allowing them to use the capital gains earned from stock sales to making things more efficient. In turn, shareholders that bought the stocks earn a lot of money because as profits rise, their prices of their shares rise and they may even get to earn dividends too.

    For example, when you compare Google to Metro, it’s a huge difference between night and day.

    Look at how fast Google has become part of our lives. Can you believe Google is only 15 years old? In fifteen years it went from startup by two Stanford students to becoming a multi-billion dollar multinational corporation. In fifteen years, Google has become part of everyone’s lives all over the world that the term “to google” is now a recognized verb in the Oxford English Dictionary. http://oxforddictionaries.com/definition/english/google

    What has Metro done in 15 years? Fare evasion was rampant for years and no one took action. And even then when finally they decide to stop it, it takes them eons to lock up the gates. And they can’t even get the basics of TAP right, total waste of tax dollars. They had their first wash of the subway in god knows how long. The stations are riddled with filth and urine. Criminal activity plagues the system with illegal vendors harassing people. The Blue Line is always having maintenance problems.

    And what does Metro think are important priorities? Naming stations after politicians like Wilshire/Western/Alfred-something-some-obscure-politician’s-name-no-cares-about Station. Installing “artwork” at stations which earns no additional money when they could be spending the money to add retail spaces to earn additional revenue into the system and making the stations are safer, livelier place and helping out our local economy.

    Metro needs to get their act together. They need to get their priorities straight.

    Look at Delhi, which is where I’m from. In the past, it was the same as Metro – a dumb government organization filled with so many red-tape that took forever to get even the simplest of things done. Now, it’s a government owned corporation, run for profit, called the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation. Things changed dramatically once they became a for-profit even though it’s still in government hands.

  13. See, look at how London does their system! So futuristic and way way more logical. Metro, get in with the times!!! You’re too slow to do anything!!