Transportation headlines, Tuesday, April 28

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Areatny Barrios, photo by Zocalo Public Square.

Areatny Barrios, photo by Zocalo Public Square.

Today’s profile of a Metro rider by Zocalo Public Square: the doughnut shop looked really good, Marlton Avenue to Vermont Avenue

Obviously a long night in Baltimore, where there are subway stations closed and bus diversions underway.

After long fight, Orange County officials agree to toll lanes on the 405 (KPCC)

Two lanes will be added for the 14-mile stretch between Long Beach and Costa Mesa. One will be a regular lane, the other a toll lane — and the existing HOV lane will also be converted to a toll lane. Cars with at least two people will be allowed to use the toll lanes for free for at least three years under the decision reached by the OCTA Board.

This graph near the bottom caught my eye:

By the year 2040, the expansion is estimated to shrink commute times in the free lanes between the two areas from 57 minutes to 29 minutes, according to a staff report.

“Giving everyone a half hour back on their lives is incredible,” said Lalloway said during Monday’s board meeting.

It would be awesomeballs if a Source reader could brainmail me in 2040 to tell me if the 29 minutes actually came to pass.

My other thought is that this will create an interesting situation for those northbounders using the toll lanes when they get to the L.A. County line and the two toll lanes shrink to one non-tolled HOV lane.

Keys to the highway of the future: smart cars, smarter networks (Wall Street Journal)

Not a lot of detail but a lot of bliss about how swell things will be in 2050 when highways are designed different, there are more assisted driving vehicles, highway construction is done more efficiently, taxes are levied by distance and time of use and so on.

Perhaps true but…it’s 2015 and we already have technology that can do many of these things. We just choose not to do them because of the tricky politics involved.

Struggling student a victim of high fines and misdemeanors (L.A. Times) 

Columnist Steve Lopez looks at the increasing number of tickets being given to pedestrians in downtown L.A. for doing things such as crossing streets while the ‘don’t walk’ warning is flashing. In this case, he looks at a young man who was rushing (via Metro Rail and Metro buses) to get from LAX to Glendale Community College to be at his class on time and who gets a ticket for trying to make a bus.

“I was in shock,” said Lopez, who wondered again why the officer couldn’t have given him a warning instead of a ticket that’s nearly one-third of his family’s monthly rent, which he contributes to. “I didn’t know how I was going to pay for it or what I was going to do.”

Ticket prices have shot up in California and elsewhere, and as we’ve seen in national headlines, fanatical enforcement is often a means of filling budget gaps. But $197 for what Lopez did is ridiculously punitive, and entirely out of proportion to the infraction.

This is a little story about a ticket with a big backstory — and one, Steve writes, that says a lot about some of the basic inequalities some folks face every day. Good column, good transit read.

N.Y. MTA official warns Board that fare and toll increases may be needed (New York Times) 

If New York State doesn’t come through with needed funding, the New York MTA will need to raise fares to keep pace with spending on its capital program, says the official. Subway fares increased four percent earlier this year as part of a regularly scheduled increase. The base fare for the New York subway is now $2.75 although those who add more than $5.50 to their fare cards get an additional 11 percent added.

Taking mass transit should be L.A.’s next workout fad (LA Magazine) 

Funny column with some fun advice — like sprinting up the stairs at the Wilshire/Vermont Station. And this one:

The Metro Chatter Chin Reducer: This is the only exercise of the bunch that can be done before and after a commute. To see your double chin slowly disappear, explain to friends, coworkers, and total strangers over and over again that, no, you don’t have a car and, yes, you do take the Metro and, duh, we do have a great mass transit system in Los Angeles. Who needs a plastic surgeon when talking about public transportation can keep a jaw so taut?

On the road with America’s sightseers (High Country News)

Great photo album of visitors at Western destinations — mostly around 1980 and mostly featuring some winceworthy clothes.

Dennis Hopper’s drugstore camera photos (New York Times Lens blog) 

If you’re riding today and don’t feel like reading, nice gallery of some of Dennis Hopper’s more casual film pics, taken between 1970 and ’72 in and around Taos, New Mexico. Hopper, as I’m sure you know, also lived many years in Venice and well before it was cool/hip to do so.

Art of Transit — Union Station East Portal at lunchtime today.

IMG_1055

17 replies

  1. “After fighting toll lanes for years”?!?!!

    Orange County is the HOME of “TheTollRoads.com,” and its four outright toll roads (that were, as I recall, constructed with the intent that they would wear out about the same time the toll contract expires). And what of that bit of legislative barratry that, if memory serves correctly, prohibits CalTrans from adding free lanes to the 91 if they would compete with the toll lanes?

    Toll roads and toll lanes create a two-tiered transportation system, in which those who can afford to pay the tolls get a faster ride than those who can’t or won’t. And they just prolong our dependency on fossil fuels.

    I LIVE in Orange County, and I KNOW I’m surrounded by pro-toll, anti-rail elitists, and only a handful of genuine populists fighting against tolls.

  2. “Subway fares increased four percent earlier this year as part of a regularly scheduled increase. The base fare for the New York subway is now $2.75”

    Constant fare increases are the perils of flat rate fares and such can be seen in NYCMTA and that is the future of LA Metro if they don’t anything about fixing their fare structure. Who’s going to ride the buses and subway at $3.00? Most people are not going to pay that much to do frequent, short distances and that’s what most people use mass transit for. At $3.00 fare, the only reasonable trip is traveling long distances end from end, not use it frequently like daily needs such as going to their neighborhood supermarket.

    Compare that to a more logical distance based fare system where fares start off low as $0.60 up to a max of $3.00 depending on distance as used in other countries outside the US. At $2.75 per ride today, that’s more expensive than what the fares in Japan start off. Tokyo fares start off at 120 yen (about $1.00) and they haven’t had a fare increase in years.

    So tell me why is NYCMTA (flat rate) constantly raising their fares, despite high ridership and has the densities to support mass transit usage, yet cannot make any money, all the while countries in Asia (distance based) has stabilized fares, all the while maintaining high ridership and similar densities as NYC and is capable of posting 100%+ farebox recovery ratio?

    The evidence points to that the flat rate fare system does not work. Why continue to rely upon a broken, illogical system?

    “taxes are levied by distance and time of use and so on….we already have technology that can do many of these things. We just choose not to do them because of the tricky politics involved.”

    OTOH, the private sector does this perfectly. Taxi cabs, Uber, and Lyft fares are charged by the distance using technology. Most privatized mass transit companies in Asia incorporate tap-in/tap-out charge by the distance fare pricing on their mass transit.

    Something to think about.

  3. “Who’s going to ride the buses and subway at $3.00?” PLENTY of people will. In most major cities across the country, even ones without extensive rail networks, the fares are well above $2, and hundreds of thousands of people ride them every day. And with inflation, $3 is nothing to wince at – New York will reach $3 within a couple years, guaranteed. Keep dreaming if you think ANYONE is going to transport you more than a mile or two for $3 or less – unless it is subsidized somehow. Distance-based fares are logical, but you’re dreaming if you think they’re going to lead to fares of 50 cents like you’ve touted before for short trips. The likelier outcome is that very long distance trips will be priced much higher – e.g. Azusa to Santa Monica for $4 versus shorter trips being less than $1, which is pretty much nothing and does nothing for the entity providing that service (again, there HAS to be a subsidy). And if you think LA can compare to very dense Asian mega-cities that charge upwards of $5 for many urban transit trips, you haven’t taken a good look at an aerial map of LA County or anywhere in the U.S. (outside a few small dense centers like Manhattan and Chicago’s Loop). It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that low-density sprawl will never lead to profitable mass transit. There are simply way too many separate origins and destinations to serve by a handful of rail lines – something that can be done in places like Hong Kong, where EVERYONE is packed into small areas of small islands, where sprawl and land development patterns are dictated even further by geographical limitations (water and mountains).

    • I agree. I can envision a scenario one day — and still a ways off — when longer rides may cost more. But I don’t see shorter rides costing less given the amount that rides are already subsidized (74 percent).

      Steve Hymon
      Editor, The Source

    • Again, tell me why places like Hong Kong, Taipei and Singapore can do exactly that, fares starting off as low as 50 cents for shorter trips while longer trips costing more, maintain a profit, all the while stabilizing fares, while NYC cannot.

      What is the difference between NYC and Hong Kong then? They’re both densely populated cities. One charges fares that keep going up, up and up. The other has stabilized fares where fares start off low as 4.2 HKD (approx 54 cents) and increases the farther you go.

      You say LA doesn’t have the density. NYC does. Yet it also fails to stabilize fares and fare prices keep going up and it barely makes 50% farebox recovery ratio. Compare that to Hong Kong which uses distance based fares, cheaply rated, without any fare increase and is capable to make an astonishing 180% farebox recovery ratio.

      • “You say LA doesn’t have the density. NYC does. Yet it also fails to stabilize fares and fare prices keep going up and it barely makes 50% farebox recovery ratio. Compare that to Hong Kong which uses distance based fares, cheaply rated, without any fare increase and is capable to make an astonishing 180% farebox recovery ratio.”

        This is a correct and valid assessment worthy of an analysis. From data gathered from the following sources on Wikipedia:

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hong_Kong
        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/New_York_City
        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Farebox_recovery_ratio

        Hong Kong’s population density is 17,024/sq mi
        NYC’s population density is 27,857.9/sq mi

        Hong Kong’s area size is 426 square miles
        NYC’s area size is 468.9 square miles

        Hong Kong’s population is 7.2 million
        NYC’s population is 8.5 million

        HKMTR’s farebox recovery ratio is 186%
        NYCMTA’s farebox recovery ratio is 51.2%
        *The 186% farebox recovery ratio of HKMTR is apart from its real estate business (http://www.theatlantic.com/china/archive/2013/09/the-unique-genius-of-hong-kongs-public-transportation-system/279528/)

        HKMTR’s uses a distance based system that starts off at 3.5 HKD (45 cents) and increases the farther you go.
        NYMTA uses a flat rate system that costs $2.75 per ride, likely increasing to $3.00 or more regardless of travel distance.

        HKMTR is a privatized corporation
        NYCMTA is a municipally owned taxpayer dependent transit agency

        They are both cities with high mass transit usage, with comparable area size, population, and densities. It is an interesting question that no one who has faith in the flat rate fare system has yet to provide a good answer why Hong Kong’s mass transit system is self-sustainable, while NYC cannot. From these data points, it points to:

        1. Failure of the taxpayer subsidized model of mass transit as it is the norm in the US
        2. Failure of the flat rate system over cheaply rated distance based fares
        3. Something else

        What that “something else” cannot be explained by the flat rate fare advocacy group.

    • ““Who’s going to ride the buses and subway at $3.00?” PLENTY of people will. In most major cities across the country, even ones without extensive rail networks, the fares are well above $2, and hundreds of thousands of people ride them every day.”

      It’s hard to quantify how many people have to suck up $2.00 or $3.00 for the bus because there is no other choice. And every fare increase is very unpopular. LA Metro just had a fare increase to $1.75 and even that was met with huge uproar by the BRU. NYers are increasingly getting upset at constant fare increases.

      People do not want fares to keep going up, the real thing people want is fare stability. This is more true in LA where 80-85% of Metro riders are far below the poverty line and every fare increase hurts them more for what little money they make. In addition, the average Metro bus rider only travels three miles. These were statements made, on public record, by former Metro CEO Art Leahy himself in the March 25, 2015 Metro Board Meeting so you can’t argue that you know more than the former head of Metro.
      http://la.streetsblog.org/2015/03/30/apta-metro-review-raise-fares-consolidate-service-charge-for-parking/

      Three miles at $1.75 today, $2.00 tomorrow, $3.00, $5.00, where does it stop? When will fare hikes end? There’s a limit to how much people are going to deal with paying transit fares for and usually the final factor becomes “is it worth it to pay so-and-so for the trip I am making.”

      “The likelier outcome is that very long distance trips will be priced much higher – e.g. Azusa to Santa Monica for $4 versus shorter trips being less than $1, which is pretty much nothing and does nothing for the entity providing that service”

      I doubt anyone cares if Azusa to Santa Monica costs $4.00 or $5.00. It is highly unlikely that a lot of people will do end to end trips for such a long distance anyway on a frequent basis. The average Metro Rail trip is 12 miles, so raise fares to $4.00 to $5.00 if Metro has to. But don’t let that same price apply for trips to the neighborhood grocery store or trips to your neighborhood dentist. No one is going to pay $4.00 one way to go buy a gallon of milk at Ralphs.

      I’m more than willing to let fares be a range somewhere between $1.00 for the shortest trip and $5.00 for the longest trip, with fares halved to a range of $0.50 to $2.50 for youth, elderly, and the disabled. That would be a reasonable fare pricing.

      Because of ridiculous flat rate pricing, Metro will ultimately lose riders at that point if it hasn’t done so already with the recent fare hike.
      http://www.lasentinel.net/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=14757:study-to-examine-decline-in-metro-ridership&catid=74&Itemid=164

      “The Metro board ordered a study last Friday to look into ways to reverse the decline in Metro bus and rail ridership. Over the last eight months the number of boardings has decreased by 5 percent and ridership has been on the decline since April 2014, a trend described as “troubling” in a motion approved by the board.”

      I also agree to the assessment made by Theo above. If you state that LA is different than Hong Kong, fine. But you cannot dismiss how New York and Hong Kong is similar in terms of mass transit usage, small area size and population density, but cannot explain why New York fares keep rising to $3.00 or more with their own problems of declining ridership, while Hong Kong is able to maintain stability in fares all the while running a transit system whose fares start off around $0.50, something that you state is “impossible.”

  4. “The likelier outcome is that very long distance trips will be priced much higher – e.g. Azusa to Santa Monica for $4 versus shorter trips being less than $1”

    I am more than acceptable that Azusa to Santa Monica should be priced at $4.00 and short trips should be a little less than $1.00. That is the exact type of distance based fare structure that I am stating. Fares should be a range, not a fixed per ride cost.

    “Keep dreaming if you think ANYONE is going to transport you more than a mile or two for $3 or less ”

    Dollar Vans: Inside NYC’s Huge, Hidden Transit Network
    http://mashable.com/2014/04/10/dollar-vans-new-york/

    • “Keep dreaming if you think ANYONE is going to transport you more than a mile or two for $3 or less ”

      Dollar Vans: Inside NYC’s Huge, Hidden Transit Network
      http://mashable.com/2014/04/10/dollar-vans-new-york/

      OUCH! Pour ice on that BUUUUUUUURNN!! LOL

      It starting to become who really knows transit more. And the people who make false arguments without backing them up with facts are starting to be whipped immediately by those who know things far more than they do.

      Yeah Transit Rider 2, what about Dollar Vans in NYC? How do you explain that? Or do they not qualify? If they don’t qualify, then be specific what you mean by transport in your terms? LOL

  5. “Asian mega-cities that charge upwards of $5 for many urban transit trips”

    Any Korean living here in LA who has ridden on Seoul Metro would laugh at your statement.

    You obviously have not traveled to Asia nor have experienced mass transit in Asia. Anyone who has visited Asia will tell you that five dollar fares are not the case all the time because fares change depending on how far one travels.

    • I can attest to this. I have traveled to Seoul on multiple occasions and I have found their superb subway system very easy to navigate and their fares very reasonable. A trip up to 10 km only cost 1050 won ($1), incrementally going up by 100 won ($0.10) every 5 km thereafter. So whatever this person stated that trips in Asian cities costs $5.00 is seriously feeding misinformation. Perhaps he has a hidden agenda?

      Travelling by transit in Seoul felt like I was travelling in a first world country. Their stations were clean, signs were everywhere, barriers to prevent falls onto the tracks, spic-and-span clean trains, loading up the T-Money Card system and tapping in and out of the system, being able to use the same card to buy drinks at the vending machines and buying lunch at Family Mart convenience stores.

      And once back in LA, I was back in a third world country. Can’t even use my TAP card to buy things at the convenience store, so sad. We’re falling way behind the rest of the world when in comes to mass transit.

  6. LA is quite dense if you analyze the facts available on the internet and that we are encroaching London levels in terms of population density.

    The subject matter was discussed just recently in this comments section:
    http://thesource.metro.net/2015/04/24/gold-line-service-this-morning-2/#comments

    LA County’s total land area is 4751 sq. miles. Subtract 693 sq. miles from that as that is the area taken up by water between the mainland and Catalina Island. Subtract another 1000 sq. miles for the land space taken up by Angeles National Forest. Give or take another 500 square miles for other undevelopable land such as the Santa Monica Mountains and other wildlife areas, whether by means of steepness or nature conservancy groups:

    LA’s “practical” land space is around 2500 square miles and most of it has been already developed.

    Considering that land space in LA County is now fixed @ 2500 square miles with no more room for further expansion, and that population of LA County currently stands at 10 million, with more growth to come.

    10 million / 2500 square miles of “practical” land space equals to a density of over 4,000 persons per square mile.

    London’s Metropolitan density stands at 4207 / sq. mi. We’re already reaching London levels of density.

    According to Mr. Steve Hymon’s own chart, LA has the potential to go to 15 million in population
    http://www.newgeography.com/content/002808-world-urban-areas-population-and-density-a-2012-update

    At 15 million at a “practical” land space of only 2500 sq. miles, the density of LA County has the potential to get to 6,100 persons per square mile. That’s denser than NY-NJ-CT, surpasses London, and is now to the levels of Nagoya, Japan (which interestingly, is Los Angeles’ sister city)

  7. Transit Rider 2,

    “Keep dreaming if you think ANYONE is going to transport you more than a mile or two for $3 or less – unless it is subsidized somehow”

    I can up the ante to your challenge by providing Exhibit A:

    New Jersey’s Jitneys (private bus companies); note fares is a range between $1.50~$5.00 depending on travel distance; it’s actually cheaper to take jitneys than to take NYCMTA for certain distances:
    http://www.jerseyjitneys.info/
    http://www.jerseyjitneys.info/wp-content/uploads/2014/01/2015-01-02-09.32.49.jpg
    http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/2/2a/Atlantic_City_Jitney.jpg

    Of course, once government sees private enterprise becoming a threat to their own ridership numbers, they try to shut them down through whatever bogus reasons such as “not having the correct license” or whatever in order to maintain their monopoly and prevent competition to take shape:
    http://www.businessinsider.com/officials-crack-down-on-jersey-jitneys-that-clog-midtown-manhattan-2014-7
    http://www.nj.com/news/index.ssf/2014/07/nypd_is_cracking_down_on_jitney_buses_carrying_passengers_from_nyc_to_new_jersey_report_says.html

    Good luck, government hasn’t had much success with trying to shutdown Uber and Lyft either.
    http://triblive.com/news/allegheny/6260482-74/puc-uber-drivers#axzz3YePFRbaH

    As a person who believes in free enterprise being the core of American success and skeptical of government interference with private companies, against the Communist leaning idealism of state-owned government monopolies and a supporter of competition between companies driving down costs for the consumer, I applaud Uber, Lyft, and private jitneys of NJ to fight back against bogus government regulations.

    BTW, if Metro or LA tries to pull off a similar stunt against private transit companies like SF, NJ or NY has done, you’d bet I will be against any more tax measures to support Metro, let alone I may even start voting Republican (the party of free enterprise and smaller government).

  8. “My other thought is that this will create an interesting situation for those northbounders using the toll lanes when they get to the L.A. County line and the two toll lanes shrink to one non-tolled HOV lane.’

    Yes, this is the problem with giving each county it’s own transit authority. You get a hodge-podge of systems that don’t work together. It was better when we had one homogenous system under Caltrans.

  9. Facts and logic do not work. It’s all about the “feel good” factor only.

    http://i.imgur.com/BehIme6.jpg

    It’s absurd that the same people believe in climate change and global warming due to facts, data, and studies, yet the same rules don’t apply when it comes to running mass transit that’s supposed to do that.

    “Global warming is happening, we need to reduce greenhouse gases!”
    “But I still want to drive to the parking lot and they should be free!”

    “Down with capitalism! Socialism rules!”
    Owns Apple products.

    Liberal logic.

  10. It’s bad habit by many here who make assumptions based on what they perceive LA to be like (low density, sprawl), while facts, data, and analysis show a much different result that land space is extremely limited here. We already are approaching high density levels comparable to London. If population growth continues, we will overtake New York in density (if we consider all of LA County to be one city, we have indeed already surpassed NYC), we will surpass London, and we will be approaching the levels of Nagoya, Japan.

    There is no escaping higher population and higher densities in LA. The population growth trend is up. There has never been significant drop in LA County population. It hard to predict the future, but realistic trends says our population will continue to grow. The population of LA County encroaching upon 15-20 million population in LA County is very realistic. You need to accept that reality.
    http://www.doctorhousingbubble.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/05/total-los-angeles-population.png

    LA County’s area size is much smaller than everyone thinks it is. You cannot argue against the practical realities that we cannot develop over water. There goes 693 square miles of LA County total area for human population.

    It is true that we cannot tear down Angeles National Forest, the Santa Monica Mountains, and other areas that are impractical to develop. You may say otherwise, but we cannot just dynamite mountains with sticks of dynamite like the Chinese do, and it will be a nasty political debate with nature conservancy groups. That scratches off additional 1500 square miles.

    What you are left with is a practical land use of only 2500 square miles. And we’ve almost used them up all. That’s the practical land space everyone in LA County has to live in.

    People do need to accept that the LA of today is far different from the LA in the 1950s. LA County in 1950 had only 4 million. At 2500 sq. miles of practical land space, the density back then was 1600 / sq. miles.

    LA County has surpassed 10 million in population. We added 6 million to our population in six decades. But practical land space is still fixed at 2500 sq. miles. We are not at 4000 / sq. miles.

    You need to acknowledge the facts and data that LA County is not getting any bigger, it’s land space is limited, and population will continue to grow. We are going to be living in a higher density society whether you like it or not.