Transportation headlines, Tuesday, January 7

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The sunrise in Chicago this morning. It's current -2 degrees there, according to the National Weather Service. Photo by Sarah Ji, via Flickr creative commons.

The sunrise in Chicago this morning. It’s current -2 degrees there courtesy of the Polar Vortex, according to the National Weather Service. Photo by Sarah Ji, via Flickr creative commons.

Loosely related to transpo news: First, I hope everyone who used the Gold Line to reach Pasadena for the parade and two football games in the past week had a good experience.

Second, how the heck do the officials miss the horse collar tackle on the Florida State player toward the end of last night’s national title game? If Auburn is penalized 15 yards, perhaps the Seminoles would have scored sooner, perhaps giving the Tigers a little more time to get in the range of a potential game-tying field goal as the clock wound down. Bad, bad non-call in an otherwise excellent football game. I hope players and fans from both teams are proud of their efforts and that student-athletes return heartily to their books, as most of them — as skilled as they are — will never play in the National Football League.

Jerry Brown eyes cap-and-trade money for high-speed rail (Sacramento Bee)

California’s governor has been a proponent of the state bullet train project and knows it will need billions of dollars to connect Los Angeles and San Francisco. As a result, his budget — due for release Friday — may propose using millions of dollars from the state’s new carbon tax to help pay for the train, which is seen by some as a way to reduce greenhouse gas emissions because the trains may be less polluting than cars (it depends largely on type of fuels both use and, if electricity, how that power is created).

In a follow-up column to the news story, Dan Walters challenges the emissions question, pointing out that pollution from construction of the project may make it less than green for many decades. For what it’s worth, one recent UCLA study found that Metro’s Gold and Orange lines would result in lower greenhouse gas emissions even with construction factored in. Important caveat: the Gold and Orange lines were much, much smaller projects than the bullet train, which involves extensive tunneling and the building of elevated structures to completely separate the train from roads.

How to be a better Californian (Zocalo Public Square)

Great column by Joe Mathews with some suggestions on ways to improve your civic profile in 2014. Among them: using public transit and biking from time to time! As an aside, Joe also suggests everyone visits where their water comes from — a superb idea! If you live in L.A. County that’s perfect reason to visit the Sierra Nevada, which sends water into either the California Aqueduct or Los Angeles Aqueduct.

Some of the snow on Taboose Pass in the Eastern Sierra will melt and end up in the L.A. Aqueduct. Zocalo Public Square writer Joe Mathews says it's our duty to visit our water resources. If you insist! :) Photo by Steve Hymon.

Some of the snow on Taboose Pass in the Eastern Sierra will melt and end up in the L.A. Aqueduct. Zocalo Public Square writer Joe Mathews says it’s our duty to visit our water resources. If you insist! Photo by Steve Hymon.

Amtrak passengers from California trapped in Polar Vortex in Illinois (L.A. Times) 

Ice and snow from the ongoing cold snap stopped three trains, including one that originated in Los Angeles and another from San Francisco. After a night aboard the trains, passengers were rescued by buses this morning. The accompanying photo inexplicably shows a train going through the snowy Sierra near Donner Pass — 2,000 miles from the actual news. Plus, the Sierra is basically wanting for snow this year; the Southern Sierra has 27 percent of the normal amount of snow for this date, according to the California Department of Water Resources.

Why getting rid of bus stops can improve bus service (Governing)

Ah, the Ivory Tower hard at work. A study by George Mason University has found that getting rid of 43 percent of the bus stops near a college campus would result in 23 percent improvement in travel times. Shocker! The study also found that losing the stops wouldn’t result in lower ridership because students are healthy and vigorous enough to walk the extra distance to the bus stops that remain.

I’m not sure the world is a smarter place as a result of the study, but it raises the age-old question for transit agencies: what is the optimal number of bus stops? Hey, maybe that’s not even the big question anymore. Perhaps we should be asking what’s the best way to speed up boarding and get buses moving on streets with frequent (and uncooperative) traffic signals.  

5 replies

  1. From what I have observed newer MTA bus operators seem to dwell at stops after the last passenger boards instead of closing the doors and continuing in service. Dash bus drivers have always been slow.

  2. If you want to speed up bus boardings, why don’t you guys provide an incentive for people to pay with TAP instead of wrinkly old bills and pennies?

    Many cities, for example like Boston, does that. Pay by TAP gives the rider a discount over pay by cash. TAP is faster and cheaper than cash. Cash is costly because you have to count all the money and wastes time. Make TAP payers get a discount, like if you board a bus with TAP with cash value loaded, it deducts only $1.00 while cash users have to pay $1.50.

    Do that and you’ll see immediate changes to way people ride the bus because no one wants to fork over an extra 50 cents when they can get by with $1.00 via TAP.

  3. Prior to Tap Cards, electronic fare boxes, buses were equipped with manual fare boxes where the bus operator would quickly view the fare, clear the inspection plate and receive the next fare. These new electronic fare boxes require the bus operator to key in each type of fare when paid and also insure the TAP Card is scanned correctly. But of course bus operators had to know how to count and add different denominations quickly. That’s why it was part of the written exam when they applied for a bus operators job. And believe it or not some failed the simple exam.

  4. I totally agree with the idea about incentive for paying by TAP. If this comes true, probably we no longer need day pass, maybe we can even get rid of the week pass. The fare structure will become simpler.
    Also LA Metro should locate most of stops to the further corner of the intersection, this will shorten the time that the buses spend waiting in front of the traffic signals.
    As for the distance between stops, I think the best distance is 1/4 miles. Usually people can walk three miles in an hour, so 1/4 miles only takes you five minutes to walk.

  5. T.Zang
    Concerning locating bus stops farside. The safety department found that farside stops were safer than nearside stops because of the illegal right turn in front of buses often resulted in accidents. Not only the fact that nearside stops also hold up traffic the vehicles legally lining up behind the bus to make a right hand turn after the bus departs add to the problem.