Transportation headlines, Monday, December 9

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ART OF TRANSIT: From our Instagram feed.

Taking the train to LAX — it’s a connection we can’t afford to miss: Eric Garcetti and Mike Bonin (Daily News)

In this op-ed, Los Angeles Mayor Garcetti and Councilman Bonin — both members of the Metro Board of Directors — reiterate what both have been saying publicly in recent months. Excerpt:

On the local front, Metro and LAX have been working together. In October, we met with U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx in Washington, D.C. He and other key transportation officials understand and agree that connecting LAX to our rail system must happen.

They are watching us. They are eager to help. And that’s the reason we can’t squander the opportunity to act now.

One of the myths that we both despise about Los Angeles is that we are beholden to traffic and that we can’t build big things. Or that we can’t do them right, symbolized by the Green Line veering south of the airport.

This project is a chance to shatter that myth, move Los Angeles into the future, and to build a transit system that connects our region to the rest of the world.

As the op-ed states, Metro is currently studying six options to connect LAX to the Crenshaw/LAX Line via either light rail, a people mover or a combination of the two. Garcetti and Bonin also say that one promising alternative involves building a rail spur from the Crenshaw/LAX Line to a new transportation facility where passengers could check into flights and transfer to the people mover.

The Airport Metro Connector project has some Measure R funding but will need more to build any of the more expensive options. In related news, the Metro Board last week approved a Memorandum of Understanding between Metro and Los Angeles World Airports for changes to the Crenshaw/LAX Line’s Aviation/Century project that could help improve connections to future airport facilities such as a consolidated rental car facility or a people mover:

screen-shot-2013-12-05-at-10-18-44-am

 

And here is the project homepage on metro.net.

Whoa! A sea change in Metro’s TAP system (CityWatch LA)

I should have posted this in late November when it was first published. The article by Matthew Hetz is a follow-up to an earlier piece in which he was critical of the TAP system — in particular the taptogo website and difficulties he encountered both purchasing a new card and adding stored value to an existing one.

But things have started to change, Matthew writes. Excerpt:

After that article was published I was very surprised that the article remained in transit cyberspace terra firma, and was read by an expanding readership. I was even more surprised when David Sutton, Deputy Executive Officer, TAP, Metro, contacted me with a list of changes he implemented on the TAP system, and he invited me, and other transit writers and bloggers, for a meeting at Metro Headquarters to discuss TAP. This was a sea change in Metro’s relationship to its riders. However, until the meetings, I was very skeptical Metro would listen or accomplish any meaningful changes.

Since then I have attended three meetings with David Sutton, and other Metro executives and managers who have been gracious and understanding in the frustrations I and others face with the current TAP system. These frustrations are shared by Metro itself. The current management, from what I understand, did not implement the TAP system, but are left is the collateral damage. Their frustrations seem evident and true. They want a system which assists transit riders, and makes their jobs less stressful in dealing with the frustrations of transit riders.

[snip]

Sutton and the managers in the meetings at Metro headquarters presented their prototypes for changes to the TAP vending machines and their ideas for a modern, functioning website. As is the case with governmental agencies, things move slowly. Metro must wait for the contract to expire before moving forward with a new website, and they must follow governmental rules and regulations in calling for bids, the submitting bids, the reviews, and then awarding the new contract. This is time consuming.

While pleased with some of the changes, Matthew says Metro is not yet completely out of the woods when it comes to TAP cards and taptogo.net. Fair enough. He also says he will be writing about some other issues he has with the system and how it could be more user-friendly. Also fair enough. Easier = Better = More Riders.

Is TriMet trying to boost revenue by pushing low-income Portland riders away from unintended round trips? (Oregonian) 

With fare restructuring on the horizon for Metro, this is an important — albeit wonky — read. The issue: the debate over whether Portland TriMet’s current fare system allows round-trips or not on a single fare.

Portland currently charges a fare of $2.50 that allows riders to use their bus and light rail system for two hours. Some people have been using that time to make round trips, but lately the agency has been saying the fare only allows transfers on a trip to a single destination. That means riders trying to make round-trips have to instead buy a $5 day pass.

The TriMet Board is about to consider a change in policy that would extend fares to cover transfers beyond two hours. It sounds like there’s resistance, given budget problems. Over at the Human Transit blog, Jarrett Walker says that extending the time would be a bad idea because it would benefit only some riders and deny the system the revenue it needs to restore good service for everyone.

My year without a car (Salon) 

 

Wayne Scott made a New Year’s resolution coming into 2013: to retire his car and bike everywhere. And despite an ambivalence about biking, he has thus far held true to his resolution. Yes, it helps that he lives and works in Portland, one of the nation’s largest bike-friendly cities. But there’s also the little matter of conquering six months of often cold rain and a job that requires a fair amount of public speaking in dry clothes.

12 replies

  1. The Tri-Met problem outlines the flaws of a time-based system.

    Many who use public transit for their daily needs do not have a need to travel that far. Majority of their trips are short, like using the bus to go from their apartment to the closest supermarket and back. Realistically, the distance range is very close.

    This is ever more apparent by logging onto Google and checking your own Google location history. If you use Google, use an Android phone, Google tracks your move on Google location history.

    Check it out yourself:
    https://maps.google.com/locationhistory

    Who is going to spend a flat rate fare of $2.50 each way just to go buy a gallon of milk from a supermarket less than five miles away? You’re spending $5.00 ($2.50 each way) just to go to the supermarket to buy a $4.00 gallon of milk. The total cost to buy that gallon of milk is $9.00 now.

    What do you expect transit riders are going to do. They’re not going to spend $2.50 each way; they’re going to maximize their ride by going to the closest place they need to do to get their daily needs done, get their needs done before the two hours is up, and make it back before the $2.50 is up.

    This is why time based fares are a bad idea. This is why every city that gets transit right runs on a distance based scheme.

  2. Regarding transit to LAX, while I fully support the idea and that it should’ve been done ages ago, I have my doubts it’ll be done in a timely manner or in within their budget.

    One of the LAX/Metro projects involves creating an offsite transit facility on the northeast corner of Aviation and Century.

    But when you pull up Google Maps, you see apartment complexes, homes, hotels (Travelodge, La Quinta Inn and a Holiday Inn), food outlets (Denny’s, Taco Bell, McDonald’s) and even a school (Bright Star Secondary Academy) that lies within that box between Aviation, Century, Arbor Vitae, and La Cienega.

    http://goo.gl/maps/5MjFa

    What is Metro or LAWA going to do? Buy all those homes and apartment complexes out? Throw out all the apartment residents into the street? Shut down another school? Good luck in making La Quinta and Holiday Inn sell their landspace where it’s a prime hotel area for LAX travelers. Good luck letting Denny’s, Taco Bell, and McDonald’s move away from a lucrative business area where they cater to lots of hotel stayers using their fast food restaurants.

    Mind you, it’s going to be really, really expensive to move all these people out, expect lawsuits, then comes demolition costs, even before a single shovel is put to ground to create this transit facility.

    Metro and LAWA can talk as much as they want, but they need a serious discussion on how the difficulty of doing eminent domain for their offsite transportation project when this city is already built with pre-existing structures and are owned/rented by many Angelenos and businesses.

  3. Garcetti and Bonin also say that one promising alternative involves building a rail spur from the Crenshaw/LAX Line to a new transportation facility where passengers could check into flights and transfer to the people mover.”
    Would this delay the construction of the Crenshaw/LAX Line and will the Green Line be extented to the airport?
    If this plan is approved, would it delay the Crenshaw/LAX Line construction? Also, what about the Green Line? Would the Green Lin

    • Hi Warren;

      There are no plans to delay the Crenshaw/LAX Line. Please see this earlier post that includes maps that help explain the project better.

      Steve Hymon
      Editor, The Source

  4. Building the train to LAX had to become Metro’s number one priority. I just came back from Japan a few days ago and they have direct airport links to both Haneda and Narita. Coming back to LA aand seeing all those cars out fof departures at LAX made me feel like I arrived in a third world country.

  5. The Portland article should be, but probably won’t be, unfortunately, a reminder to all of those that wish to change the current fare structure that despite their own personal favorite fare, any changes that Metro makes will have unintended consequences and despite being good for you personally, it could and probably will, make it worse for other people. I predict most people will rationalize their favorite fare in some way and won’t care what other people think.

  6. Dear Metro, I really don’t get it. Why is it so hard to include the freeway zone fare charts on the 400- and 500-series bus routes timetables themselves? By reading the existing AND the preview Dec 15 timetables, all they say is call (323)GoMetro. Meanwhile, those zone fare charts that were once hidden somewhere on the Metro website have ALSO been magically taken down!

    Yes, perhaps the passengers can simply ask the bus drivers when they board the bus, but if Metro can print that “please call (323)GoMetro” thing on the timetables, how about just print the zone fare chart there? If Metro can do that for Silver Line timetable, how was that impossible for the 400- and 500-series bus routes? I mean, come on!

  7. LAX is an absolute embarrassment. Of course the Green Line should have extended directly into LAX. Now, many years later, the possibility of a ‘Transit Center’ at Aviation and Century? Slow, old thinking running amok, once again, at Metro.

  8. “As is the case with governmental agencies, things move slowly.”

    You got that right. Just like Obamacare, government can’t even update a website properly.

    Metro said earlier this year that the taptogo.net website will be fixed “soon.” Well, we’re almost at the end of 2013 so how “soon” is “soon” in government agency’s timescale terms? A decade?

  9. Oh, please. Let’s not get into a government agency vs.private company argument here. Just one look at the disasters brought on by ExxonMobil, BP, the private banking industry, health insurance companies, etc. etc. demonstrate that the private sector can’t claim any high ground.

    It’s about management and accountability. When WE THE PEOPLE become engaged with OUR government agencies, we can make things run right. When we take on a “screw the politicians,” “the hell with taxes,” “get them off my back” mentality, then we lose.

    The safety of the car you drive, the roads (including an amazing interstate highway system) on which you dirve, the planes on which you fly, the safety of the food you eat and the water you drink – all are the result of effective government agencies. And then there’s your police department, your fire department, your military – also government agencies. .

  10. Bruce,

    The same thing can be said with governments. There’s the City of Bell scandal where politicians reaped millions of dollars for their own benefit. Cities like Vernon, Mayfair, Cudahy are also riddled with corruption. The City of LA was tacking on illegal sanitation surcharges charges and LADWP employees gaming the system to receive massive vacation pays. We have greedy public employee unions asking for massive pension benefits that is a huge strain on this city’s budget. Corrupted cops are everywhere and can viewed Youtube doing illegal searches, claiming that photography/videography is illegal with police brutality ranging from “don’t taze me bro” to Hawthorne PD shooting the poor dog. The roads are in miserable shape all over LA and even though we pay one of the highest sales tax in the nation with the highest gas tax as well, nothing is being done to fix the condition of our roads because all of our tax dollars gets squandered away to fulfill the needs of their public employee unions, not the public benefit as it’s supposed to.

    If you hate America and think that living under a big government where they control everyone’s lives is a better way to go, I suggest you move to North Korea. I hear it’s a communist utopia where everyone is happy.

    • We can go on and on about government screw-ups and we can go on and on about private industry screw-ups. My point was and remains, that neither entity can claim the high ground in this tit-for-tat. My point is also that it’s OUR government and therefore it’s OUR responsibility to fix it and see that it operates as efficiently and as effectively as possible.

      It’s absurd to point to governmental failures and then make the assertion that anyone who questions private industry failures is somehow in favor of “big government where they control everyone’s lives.” Actually, anyone who is against working to make OUR government more effective and efficient should consider moving elsewhere. For me, I’d like to stay and work within the system to make it better. And please, get off this “hate America” crap. Your post is far more hateful and deconstructive than anything I’ve said.