Transportation headlines, Tuesday, June 9

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In Metro – Arts District dispute, everyone will lose something (Downtown News) 

This editorial looks at a neighborhood dispute involving Metro’s rail yards for the Red/Purple Line. Metro needs to build a new building in order to reconfigure the yard, some neighborhood residents want that land for a new park near the western end of the existing and new 6th Street Viaduct.

Excerpt with the DN’s views on how the peace pipe might be achieved:

The community should recognize that it is probably too late to find another site for the maintenance facility. That said, we think Metro can do more to satisfy local stakeholders and Huizar’s office. The Metro official said the agency has agreed to move the building 28 feet back from the property line and will work with neighbors on designs for the façade facing the bridge.

That should be a starting point, not an end of discussion. Metro has some smart people on board and a new CEO in Phil Washington. They should get the project built, but they must bend on designs, sight lines and more. They must recognize that community members feel they were misled or ignored. It is in Metro’s interest to get the neighbors on board.

One bit of compromise might involve horse-trading. Former Metro CEO Art Leahy directed agency staff to look at creating a light rail spur into the Arts District, with one or two stations. If a large maintenance facility is to rise, then how about fast-tracking a project that would ease travel and potentially reduce auto congestion in this suddenly very hot neighborhood?

I encourage you to read the entire piece, which has some good context. My three cents: I agree that Metro’s community outreach for the subway project was very robust. That said, it’s also accurate to say that the Arts District has changed since the subway planning process kicked off in 2007.

Metrolink to offer fare, pass discounts to boost ridership and revenue (L.A. Times) 

Hoping to attract riders, Metrolink is set to begin a pilot program that will cut fares on the Antelope Valley Line by 25 percent, with some discounts also on the Ventura County Line. One transit advocate praises the program but says that adding more trains and more convenient schedules may be another way to get more riders. Metrolink’s ridership has slipped from 12.68 million in FY 2007-08 to 11.75 million in FY 2013-14.

Drought hastens decline of the Joshua tree, California’s desert symbol (L.A. Times) 

Photo: Steve Hymon.

Photo: Steve Hymon.

The most immediate problem is lack of rain. The more long-term potential problem is a rise in temperatures coupled with lack of moisture, which computer models say could shrink the Joshua’s Tree range within Joshua Tree National Park by 90 percent or more by the end of this century. Trying to reduce your carbon footprint? Taking transit instead of driving alone in most vehicles is a good way to do so.

The average L.A. driver pays $3,640 a year getting to and from work (LA Weekly) 

The number comes from a survey by Citi, the banking firm. I’d be more interested in the total cost of owning and operating a car — and have seen a variety of numbers over the years. If the $3,640 number is accurate, keep in mind that it’s an average, meaning there are certainly people who spend a lot more (I know folks who routinely pay $300 and more per month for car payments or leases).

By way of comparison, a monthly Metro pass would run you $1,200 per year. If you don’t need a pass and spend $3.50 per day traveling round-trip on Metro, it’s $910 per year assuming you work five days a week, 52 weeks per year. If you (like me) both own a car but often use transit to get to work, transit is almost always cheaper when the cost of gas, parking, depreciation and maintenance is factored in. Taking transit, I think, is also a good way to extend the life of your car.

It’s easier to meditate on the train than the bus (Zocalo Public Square) 

Elizabeth Lefevbre. Photo by Zocalo Public Square.

Elizabeth Lefevbre. Photo by Zocalo Public Square.

The latest Metro rider profile.

Protestors decry bullet train route in the SFV (L.A. Times)

The LAT estimates that about 300 people, mostly from the northeast Valley and Santa Clarita, came out to protest any bullet train route between Palmdale and Burbank that is not mostly underground. Below are the four alternatives — the one that follows the 14 freeway is the one that’s mostly ground level. Of course, the challenge here is financial and technical: tunnels cost money and usually take a long time to build.

Map: California High-Speed Rail Authority.

Map: California High-Speed Rail Authority.

California Senate scraps late night ride service (Sacramento Bee)

Key excerpt:

Two part-time employees were hired to offer round-the-clock rides to senators, the Bee reported last week, an amenity that came after multiple lawmakers had been stopped for suspected drunk driving in recent years. Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de León, D-Los Angeles, announced in a Friday email he was halting the program.

Quasi-related: Sacramento’s light rail trains run from about 5 a.m. to midnight for those who need a ride!

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7 replies

  1. I have to wonder if estimates on these “average driver spends X amount of gas” statistics ever include motorcyclists and scooterists or just looking at cagers (car drivers) only.

    Cars and public transit aren’t the only options out there to get around you know? A motorized two wheel vehicle are perfectly good fuel efficient means to get around, sometime could also be cheaper than Metro itself, especially in the congested streets of LA.

  2. “Metro has some smart people on board”

    The threshold for “smart” by Metro standards must be very, very low then!

  3. To me, the fact that monthly passes are now 1/3 more expensive annually than buying single fares for commuters is really poor planning on metro’s part.

    You have effectively eliminated the possibility of capturing that portion of the ridership in a monthly pass. Monthly passes are too expensive and the only people who would consider buying them are those without a choice. Last time I checked, Metrorail is not suffering from overcrowding, so I don’t see why we need to increase the cost to the heaviest users of the metro system (known to be predominantly low-income) to the extent of being punitive relative to other users.

    Prior to the fare hike, I was a regular purchaser of the monthly pass. Now, since I am fairly sure that I will not make 60 metro trips in distinct two hour windows, I just add value. Metro is losing money (self-evidently bad) and ridership (increasing number of car trips, undoubtedly) from riders in similar situations to me.

    • Also by raising the monthly pass to $100/month and raising the flat rate fares to $1.75, it’s also making it a lot better in the long run to buy a scooter like this instead:

      http://www.scooterdynasty.com/125cclancesympch.aspx

      It’s one of the reasons why you see a lot more scooterists and motorcyclists from the Millennials these days – in the long run, it’s more cheaper than getting around with Metro and unlike Metro, people can just hop-on-and-go that wait for the bus.