Zocalo Public Square’s daily Metro rider profile: 7th Street to Wardlow Road
An interesting article from Laura Nelson of the L.A. Times that highlights the difficulty of figuring out why people are and are not riding transit. After talking with planning experts, Laura concludes that while ridership may be affected by high gas prices, the reverse may not be true, particularly in Los Angeles, and that the biggest factor affecting ridership is the economy.
The biggest influence on transit ridership is the health of the economy, experts say. During the Great Recession, as income levels dropped and household budgets tightened, transit ridership hit record highs across the United States. Some of the strongest ridership months in 2008 and 2009 corresponded with low fuel prices.
A graph released by the FTA a few years ago seems to indicate that ridership correlates with employment with a possible correlation with gas prices:
All things considered, I think it’s safe to say that there are many variables that may influencing ridership — including gas prices, the economy, rider demographics, traffic congestion (perceived or actual) and more. For Metro specifically, as Laura points out, other factors such as newly locked turnstiles and a fare increase in September have likely impacted recent ridership.
Beginning March 1, low-income and middle-income seniors and the disabled will be able to ride San Francisco Muni buses and light rail for free. According to the Muni report, the estimated cost of the pilot program is $6 million. Interestingly, the transit agency is looking for help from the private industry to help fund the new program after their free rides for youth program received a funding boost in the form of a $6.8-million donation from Google:
Hoping for a repeat performance, Lee announced Tuesday what some are calling the “tech sector Bat-signal.”
“Today, I call upon the private sector to partner with us, once again, and help fund this vital service that supports our City’s most vulnerable,” Lee wrote in a statement.
City Hall insiders expected billionaire tech investor and Lee ally Ron Conway to show up in a cape and tights, but no sightings have yet been verified.
To qualify for free rides, seniors must be over 65 and make no more than $67,950 annually (single), $77,700 (couple) or $97,100 (family of four). Until now, only Philadelphia’s SEPTA offered free rides for seniors. All offer seniors and disabled some sort of reduced fare. More info on Metro’s reduced fare senior program can be found here.
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo is proposing a $450-million elevated line to connect public transit to the traffic-bogged La Guardia Airport in Queens. The other major airports in the region JFK and Newark already offer transit links while La Guardia — which mostly serves domestic flights — has usually required a taxi, car service or bus ride. The new elevated line would connect the airport and the New York Subway’s 7 Line that runs between Queens and Midtown Manhattan.
The La Guardia proposal at this time appears to raise a lot more questions than answers, especially regarding funding, trip time and project length.
The estimated cost of $450 million for the project is much lower than other rail projects of similar length as well as previous ideas for a La Guardia connection. The possible reason for this is explained in the article. Excerpt:
By comparison, Mr. Cuomo’s proposal is cheaper and less intrusive to residents, according to Elliot G. Sander, chairman of the Regional Plan Association, a group that advises on infrastructure planning in the New York area.
“It is relatively simple, relatively inexpensive and has minimal impact on the surrounding community,” said Mr. Sander, a lifelong resident of Queens. “You’re not doing underground tunneling. It’s a simple, short connection.”
Meanwhile in Los Angeles, the Metro Board last year approved the addition of the 96th/Aviation Station along the Crenshaw/LAX line as the best option for connecting riders to a future people mover to be built by Los Angeles International Airport. Airport officials last month approved a $4-billion dollar plan that included an automated people mover connection to the station; the people mover will include three stations to serve airport terminals as well as stations at a new Intermodal Transportation Facility and new Consolidated Rental Car Center.
How Americans get to work (Flowing Data)
A fun and informative interactive map that shows commuting habits across the United States using data from the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2013 American Community Survey. The map makes it easy to visually see where various commuting methods are more popular by allowing you to select color layers for each mode. By default the map shows the “drive alone” layer in aqua green, which unsurprisingly blankets the country as the most common commuting form in places other than New York City and remote areas of Alaska.
The image below shows the “drive alone” layer turned off, indicating that carpooling (purple) is the next most popular way of commuting, with a few other other areas where more people work from home (green). You can also scroll over a county for the specific breakdown between modes, making it easy to compare counties.
Unfortunately, the article that goes along with the map mischaracterizes Los Angeles as a place where you can only “drive or take horribly inefficient public transit.” Having lived in L.A. car-free for the past three years, this is not true in my experience and seems to be a statement based on L.A.’s car-culture stigma. It’s hard to imagine the same being said of Denver or Minneapolis, even though both have the same percentage of public transit commuters as L.A. County, and a slightly higher percentage of commuters driving alone.
Mayor won’t block Boston 2024 Olympics referendum effort (Boston Globe)
Earlier this month, the U.S. Olympic Committee selected Boston as the U.S. candidate for hosting the 2024 Summer Olympics. However, there is an outspoken contingent in Boston that opposes hosting the Games that may seek a ballot initiative to put the issue to voters.
The city’s mayor, Martin J. Walsh, said yesterday he would not block a ballot referendum should anti-Games organizers get the nearly 65,000 signatures needed to get it on the ballot. If — and it’s a big if — a referendum is passed, the U.S. Olympic Committee will presumably reconsider the three other cities that were vying for selection: San Francisco, Los Angeles and Washington D.C. It’s a long shot, but worth keeping an eye on. The International Olympic Committee is scheduled to pick a host for the 2024 Summer Olympics in 2017.
Some photos of retired New York City subway cars meeting their fate: the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean.
Go Metro to see this year’s Oscar nominated films: the Oscar nominees were announced last week and it’s now become my mission to see as many nominated movies as I can. Of those that I’ve seen so far, my guess for best film is The Grand Budapest Hotel. I’m no expert, but I did
randomly guess predict last year’s winner so I feel pretty confident. Your thoughts?
As a reminder, there are a handful of movie theaters near Metro Rail, including Arclight Hollywood (Hollywood/Vine – Red Line), Arclight Pasadena (Memorial Park – Gold Line), Laemmle NoHo 7 (North Hollywood – Red Line) and Regal L.A. Live (Pico – Expo/Blue Line). Any others I might be missing, feel free to leave in the comments.
Categories: Transportation Headlines