Today’s profile of a Metro rider by Zocalo Public Square: I come from a transit friendly and I live to ride, La Brea Avenue to Hoover Street
A preview of Metro’s upcoming $5.6 billion fiscal year budget (Streetsblog LA)
Joe Linton combs through some of the budget materials already released and includes some informed speculation on the big picture and what it means. In his view, what it means could be problems ahead. Excerpt:
The agency’s fiscal balance is precarious in the longer time horizon. Massive construction sucks the air out of the room for all other agency functions. Heavy capital expenditures put agency finances into a “structural deficit” which former CEO Art Leahy and others have asserted means fare increases will be needed as early as mid-2016.
It gets even worse when sales tax revenue does not keep pace with projections; this occurs when the economy slows down. When agency expenditures outpace agency revenues, riders suffer from service cuts and fare increases. This results in an overall spiral of declining ridership, declining fare income, and further fare increases and service cuts. These chickens do not appear to be coming home to roost imminently, but, over time, they may.
Metro budget officials say there are no overall bus service hour cuts in the upcoming budgets although the public can certainly comment on how they would like to see the service hours used. In other words, service hours can be moved around. There are also no fare increases proposed in the coming year’s budget, but there certainly could be in future budgets. As for challenges ahead? Certainly, as always.
An article in defense of groups posting overtly political and/or provocative ads on buses along the East Coast. In particular, the article looks at the track record of the “American Freedom Defense Initiative, a nonprofit organization,” that has seen some of its ads rejected by transit agencies — rejections that it was able to overturn via litigation.
The last time I checked, buses are not purely marketing vehicles. But every transit authority has its own advertising policy, and how the First Amendment applies to those ads depends on the jurisdiction. In New York, MTA advertising space is a “designated public forum.” This means that the sides of MTA buses are opened by the government for use by the public for expressive activity.
Because the government has chosen to allow political and expressive speech in this forum, content-based restrictions on that speech—which, intuitively, regulate speech based on what it says—are subject to exacting scrutiny by the courts. But not every jurisdiction recognizes transit advertising as a public forum, so the standard of review is less strict in other locations. As a result, the group hasn’t been uniformly successful, although its track record is pretty impressive.
I don’t believe the public forum standard holds true with Metro. Here are the agency’s advertising standards, which restrict advertising to commercial purposes, government entities or nonprofits partnering with government agencies.
Walking New York (New York Times Magazine)
Great interactive feature with short text blocks highlighting different walks around Manhattan and the boroughs of San Francisco East. The special edition of the magazine also includes a good article headlined “How do we protect pedestrians,” about the city’s attempt to re-engineer intersections to better protect those not in cars.
Excerpt that just as easily be written about the transportation department in most big non-Gothamized cities:
For much of the 20th century, when the engineers running urban transit authorities thought about traffic, they thought less about the pedestrian experience and more about saving money, by saving time, by speeding movement, by enabling cars. They analyzed traffic flow, the backup of cars, stoplight times and right- and left-hand turns, all in an effort to keep vehicles moving freely and quickly through the city. They ran the data through a program that would spit out a rating (A to F) for the “level of service.” An A meant that a street was congestion-free, which gave cars the potential to speed; an F meant that it was too congested to be functional. The grade considered ideal for most streets in New York was a C.
The value of speed, for car commuters, was an easy equation for engineers. “The assumption is that all travel time is a waste of time,” says Zhan Guo, a professor of urban planning and transportation at New York University’s Wagner School of Public Service. “But that rationale doesn’t apply to pedestrians.” The worth of the pedestrian experience, so pokey, so subjective, was scarcely considered, partly because it was hard to quantify.
Super good transit read that is pretty pertinent: those of you who read while riding transit will shortly be converted to being pedestrians upon exiting your transit vehicles.
Trends from the APA 2015 conference (Planetizen)
Analysis of the thousands of tweets tweeted during the recent American Planning Assn.’s convention in Seattle. The two tweets that got the most traction? One was the map below showing the diminishing range that children are allowed to walk from home and other was a RT of a quote by UCLA’s Donald Shoup, saying it makes no sense to give free housing to cars and expensive housing to people.
Categories: Transportation Headlines