Transportation headlines, Thursday, June 12

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The future of Leimert Park (KCET)

Great video hosted by Nic Cha Kim on the future of Los Angeles’ well-known African American neighborhoods. The segment hits a significant issue head on: what will Crenshaw/LAX Line and/or gentrification mean for the African American population in the neighborhood? The visuals are great, too — and really give a sense of the community.

As for the Crenshaw/LAX Line, major construction is underway. The project is scheduled to open in 2019 and will allow trains to run from the Green Line’s current Redondo Beach station to the intersection of Exposition and Crenshaw, where passengers can transfer to the east-west Expo Line.

Those interested in the issue of transit and gentrification should read these two posts that appeared recently at The Atlantic Cities:

Does new transit always have to mean rising rents?

It’s not always a bad thing for rents to rise with transit growth

Pedaling toward segregated bikeways (redqueeninla)

Excellent essay about the proliferation of bikes on our local roads — a good thing — and the inherent challenges of forcing cyclists and motorists together on the same patch of asphalt. Excerpt:

Bicycles need more segregated space on our roadways, dedicated to them. This is imperative for the safety of cyclist and motorist alike, but as well for the sake of the soul of our city. It is not appropriate to marginalize this mode of transportation which has grown so popular. And in attending to the safety we all need better addressed, this will open up a floodgate of participation among the wary. If segregated, secure bicycle roadways were as common in Los Angeles as across Europe and elsewhere in North America, cycling commutes and bicycled errands in Los Angeles would become viable for the more cautious among us.

Redqueeninla concludes by predicting that building more protected bikeways will lead to even more people riding. Completely agree.

Boston’s new “smart transit” gets you to work faster–for a price (Gizmodo)

Good post on a new startup that plans to run private buses across the Boston area in which the routes are, in part, determined by riders and the data they generate. The idea is that the routes are more flexible than that of a public transit agency, meaning riders willing to pay steeper fares can help customize their transit. Excerpt:

Privatized transit—the kind that’s not funded or maintained by the city’s transportation agency—has become a touchy issue for cities over the last few years, if only because of one specific example: The tech buses in San Francisco. As you’ll remember, protesters believe that the buses cause gentrification because the easy access to these corporate shuttles cause wealthier people to move into certain areas of San Francisco where they wouldn’t normally live, displacing longtime residents. While there isn’t really any kind of direct correlation that can prove that—desirable areas of San Francisco are getting more expensive, period—the city has responded (a little) by charging the shuttles to use its bus stops.

While it seems on the outset like Bridj is kind of the same thing—these are fancy buses targeted to tech workers, too—the biggest difference is that this is a service which is open to the public. It’s privatized transit, but not a closed system. It’s another option for getting to work, and it’s more like a high-tech carpool than an alternative transit system. And as the branding clearly states—and I’m not saying I agree with it—this is for people who don’t like touching other humans or getting sweaty on the subway.

Privately-run transit systems don’t exist in many parts of the country for a variety of reasons — including unwanted competition to public transit — although private firms contract with agencies (including Metro) to provide service on their routes. It will be interesting to see how this changes over time. I’m sure transit agencies don’t want private firms to cherry-pick the more profitable routes, leaving agencies to heavily subsidize the rest. On the other hand, if a private firm can better serve a particular route, shouldn’t the free market be allowed to prevail? We’ll see.

CTA bans e-cigarettes on all buses, trains (Chicago Tribune) 

The agency that runs the bus and train system across the Windy City follows in Metro’s footsteps and prohibits the use of e-cigarettes. Similar issue as here: the agency believe that a rule already on the books forbidding smoking on agency property likely covered e-cigarettes but decided to make the ban more explicit.

2 replies

  1. I don’t see anything wrong with privatization. We are after all, a capitalist democracy and not a totalitarian socialist country. If private enterprise has an idea to run transit better, they should be encouraged to do so. If you look at Asia, the only place in the world where mass transit is actually profitable, they run transit as a profit making corporation.

    Besides, the entrepreneurial spirit and Fortune 500 companies are the engine of the US economy that help creates jobs here. And unlike manufacturing jobs, you can’t “off-shore” bus drivers and maintenance mechanics to other countries.

    The less things are run with taxes, the better for everyone. If mass transit were less tax dependent, then that means the taxes that used to go to transit could go elsewhere like more funding for education, law enforcement and firefighters.

  2. Concerning private transit and getting commuters out of their auto’s. When I first worked for the RTD in 1980 they had special services offered to large employers. The one remember was Blue Cross. It was discontinued shortly after I started so there is little I know about the operation. What was the criteria of where passengers were picked up I can no longer remember but I do remember only two series of buses were accepted. They were the 1000 series and I believe the 7500’s. They both had nicer seating including the bus operator and they ran like a bat out of hell. They only ran in the AM and PM and conformed to the companies work hours. Why the service was discontinued is a mystery to me but it seems if it can be economical the MTA should resurrected the program. I’m sure Art Leyhe (sp) is well aware of the program since he was in a high management position at that time.