Transportation headlines, Tuesday, July 7

Have a transportation-related article you think should be included in headlines? Drop me an email! And don’t forget, Metro is on TwitterFacebook and Instagram.

Upgraded Firestone Blue Line Station. Photo via Instagram @hour38

Upgraded Firestone Blue Line Station. Photo via Instagram @hour38

Bike-sharing as a bridge between commute gaps (L.A. Times)

The Metro Board approved the contractor for Metro’s downtown pilot bike-share program at last month’s board meeting. The 65-kiosk, 1,100-bicycle system is expected to be up and running by spring 2016. If all goes well, the program will be expanded to other locations around L.A. County.

This L.A. Times article gives a good perspective on what will be gained with a bike-share program, but also looks at some of the challenges it may face. On the former, the new system is poised to serve as an effective first/last mile solution to provide transit riders a faster way to connect from bus stops or train stations to their ultimate destinations.

One of the largest challenges facing the new program is coordination with other cities, like Santa Monica and Long Beach, with bike-share programs already on the way. This issue dominated the discussion at last month’s Board meeting, and a number of possibilities for coordination are being looked at. It will become a much larger issue when Metro’s bike program expands nearer to the borders of those cities (e.g. Venice).

The article also explores the potential fare structure for the new program. Excerpt:

Metro hasn’t set a pricing structure yet, but is weighing two options. Under a membership model, users would buy a 24-hour pass, or pay a flat annual fee for unlimited number of trips that are shorter than a half-hour. The other option would integrate bike-share into the existing Metro fare structure, meaning for $1.75 one-way fee, passengers would be able to transfer between buses, trains and bikes for up to two hours.

The second option seems to be carrying favor with our Twitter followers. What say you Source readers?

Hating your transit agency won’t make it better (Human Transit)

Transit planner Jarrett Walker explains why transit agencies often shoulder most, if not all, of the blame when things go wrong despite many problems being a result of the political environment in which they exist.

Walker’s article comes after Vancouver residents voted against a transit sales tax referendum last week. This result is believed to be in large part due to declining trust in TransLink, the region’s transit agency. Walker worked with TransLink in the past and knew it as a forward-thinking transit planning agency dealing with high-demand in a dense region, though not without its issues. Walker lists four reasons why it’s so easy to blame regional transit agencies when there usually are many issues at play and gives suggestions on what to do instead.

It’s a great read with many interesting points, so as to not focus on just one and leave out another, I’ll leave you to click the article for more.

Where the hot subway cars are (WNYC)

Nothing like the New York City Subway on a hot summer day. And I mean that in the worst and smelliest way. Even though all of New York’s subway cars have air conditioning, the units can occasionally break down, making those humid, summer days so much worse for the unsuspecting rider. Excerpt:

The worst month is July, when 15 hot cars are reported by riders each day. On really hot days, that number can triple. Like on July 19, 2013, when 54 cars were taken out of service due to air-conditioning repairs, according to the MTA data obtained by Stevens. The high temperature that day? 96 degrees Fahrenheit.

To help commuters avoid these situations, WNYC made a nice little field guide. If you’re without the field guide — so that would be apply to all L.A. Metro riders — the article suggests avoiding empty train cars when others are full, which is usually a sign that something is amiss. In my experience, I’ve found this to be practical for a variety of circumstances.

Streets experiments made this city engineer a celebrity bureaucrat (NextCity)

A spotlight on Seattle Department of Transportation engineer Dongho Chang who is gaining celebrity within the transit community for his openness to experiment with new ideas, and his responsiveness and passion on bike, pedestrian and transit projects. Excerpt:

“The data shows that on that corridor, buses are serving half of that traffic at peak hour,” he said. “People were diametrically opposed, viscerally angry and we showed them the data on why it was the right decision.”

That willingness to make people angry and not bow to the loudest dissenting voices is rare among bureaucrats trained to run from controversy and seek the path of least resistance with new projects. It’s especially uncommon to see public leadership like Chang’s coming not from a DOT commissioner like Gabe Klein of Washington D.C. and then Chicago, or Mike Bloomberg’s chief of streets, Janette Sadik Khan, but from a rank-and-file engineer.

I listen to Tom Waits (Zocalo Public Square)

Patrick Horne. Photo by Zocalo Public Square

Patrick Horne. Photo by Zocalo Public Square

The latest in the Zocalo Public Square Metro rider spotlight series.

You can follow Joe on Twitter at @joseph_lem

36 replies

  1. I very much prefer the second option, integrating bike-share into the existing Metro fare structure, meaning for $1.75 one-way fee, passengers would be able to transfer between buses, trains and bikes for up to two hours. Because my use of public transit is somewhat irregular, pay as you is less troublesome than having to purchase passes. I already ride my own bike to transit points much of the time, but I look forward to using the Metro bike rental on those days when I really don’t feel up to handling my bike on board trains or lifting it on and off the bike racks on buses… which is getting a bit more difficult at 67 years of age. The transfer plan is a real bonus, btw.

  2. “Hating your transit agency won’t make it better”

    Hmm…

    1. Raises fares
    2. Makes service cuts
    3. Huge maintenance delays
    4. Questions go unanswered
    5. Problems go unchecked and unsolved
    6. Ideas to make additional revenue to reduce taxpayer burden are brushed aside
    7. High fare evasion rates, took Metro close to 2 decades to figure out the honor system didn’t work and was losing billions in revenue
    8. $5.5 billion per year budget from taxpayers
    9. Does not complete work/tasks on schedule (taptogo.net website)
    10. Pat themselves on the back and gives themselves pay raises and increased benefits
    11. Has the audacity to ask for more tax hikes

    Sorry to say, I don’t think your whining and complaining is going to change the people’s attitudes toward Metro. Do your job on time, under budget, and figure out ways to become more independent from reliance on taxpayers, no one would complain. It’s simple as that.

    If you feel that the people are being unfair because of politics and such, nothing really is stopping you from privatizing. You’re free to privatize mass transit just like many other nations outside the US has done. Why is that not an option? Let me guess, it’s the job security that comes from government jobs, right?

    • Losing billions in revenue due to no fare gates??? Surely you are joking. While fare gates are a good thing, there is still evasion through people going through the handicap gates and the fare gates themselves cost a lot of money to install and maintain so very little net revenue has likely been gained. Even if no one ever paid a fare on the trains during a year, you would only be talking a few hundred million at most. Metro is probably netting a few million from fare gates at most. Most people in LA have some sort of discount and pay fares at only 70 cents a pop. That just doesn’t add up to much even if 30 or 40k a day are skipping out.

      • A different perspective is that there has never been both proof of how much money was lost in fare evasion or whether the vast majority of riders do get some sort of discounts.

        If anything, the bureaucracy itself is a complete mess that Metro is incapable of providing such data. One cannot figure out the fare evasion rate under an honor system; it’s not like you have fare enforcers 24/7 checking at all stations checking how many people has evaded fares. There has been comments previously that it takes over 2-3 months just to get student and senior passes due to the tremendous amount of backlog and recently, the mayor himself stated that discounted passes aren’t really selling that well.

      • Self-reported percentages about sensitive topics like fare discounts tend to be lower than their actual rate.

        But Metro’s semi-annual on-board survey across all Metro Bus/Rail lines (N of nearly 20,000) determined that 30% of riders received a discounted fare of some kind. (25% student (K-12), 20% College Student, 8% Low-Income, 36% Senior/Disabled/Medicare, 11% unreported)

        Matthew Kridler
        Metro Research

  3. Steve’s blog today asks readers to read articles about not blaming problems on Metro and praising a bureaucrat who doesn’t care what the opinions are of the noisy rabble of their constituents. A surprise that both articles refer to the Seattle region? Or that a spokesperson from Metro holds the company line, mostly.

    Not surprising is that there are rumours that Metro is planning a major overhaul of bus routes and the Blog won’t touch that at all.

  4. Asian transit agencies don’t need taxpayer support or government assistance to run, they are privatized and run for profit. The past argument that Asian cities are dense and more people use mass transit whereas the US is not, that’s why they are able to run it like that way doesn’t fly anymore either.

    To this date, no one has explained a rebuttal to the reason why Hong Kong (under privatization HKMTR Corp.), is able to keep fares stable under cheaply rated distance based fares without constant fare increases and run profitably with a farebox recovery ratio of over 180%, yet in contrast, the supposed best we have in the US in an equally dense and equally high number of mass transit usage city such as New York (government agency NYCMTA) cannot keep fares stable under flat rate fares and their fares keep going up almost every year and runs barely at 50% farebox recovery ratio.

    If the best mass transit we have in the US (NYC) still sucks compared to cities like Hong Kong, then why are the rest of the US, including LA Metro looking up to NYC for inspiration? What can be derived from this compare/contrast situation is that government agencies as its the norm here in the US simply have no clue how to run mass transit.

  5. Aren’t all of you who read the feedback on this blog tired of reading comments from a select few repeat offenders that fall into these 3 main categories?:

    1. “We should privatize public transit.” Yes, because we all know how well private companies like big banks, big grocery stores, etc. treat their customers and protect their privacy. If there were truly an economic model in the United States that supports building and providing public transportation by a private concern, don’t you think that this would have naturally happened already? Let’s get real…why do you think all of the private companies like Huntington’s are no longer in this business?
    2. “Public transportation in [insert name of country in Asia] works so much better and we could learn from them.” Boring, repetitive and tiresome.
    3. A mix combining both above.

    Give it a rest, guys. We get your point. Now let’s keep the comments germane to the subject at hand.

  6. “Japan’s gas prices are double what we pay, Hong Kong’s are triple those in the US.”

    Is this one of those “I believe that is the case but I fail to back up the claim that I mentioned without offering any facts or data” type of things?

    As of July 6, 2015, Japan’s gas price average was $1.16/liter which is about $4.39/gal
    http://www.globalpetrolprices.com/Japan/gasoline_prices/

    As of July 6, 2015, Hong Kong’s gas price average was $1.99/liter which is about $7.53/gal
    http://www.globalpetrolprices.com/Hong-Kong/gasoline_prices/

    As of July 8, 2016, the average price of gas in Los Angeles was $3.54/gal
    http://www.latimes.com/business/autos/la-fi-hy-gas-prices-standing-htmlstory.html

    Suffice to say, “double” of $3.54 does not equate to $4.39/gal, “triple” of $3.54 does not equate to $7.53/gal

    Japan’s $4.39/gal is only 25% more than LA County
    Hong Kong’s $7.53/gal is only 212% more than LA County

    http://www.politifake.org/image/political/1210/liberals-facts-mean-nothing-battaile-politics-1349732551.jpg

    • To Google fact checker:

      You almost held my interest until you ended with that idiotic meme castigating liberals, which has absolutely nothing to do with the subject of this thread. Such ridiculous diversionary personal attacks do not enhance your credibility.

      • But Bill, Bob, and Noam Chomsky are okay to chastise against the other side because they cannot give a good argument?

        When Noam Chomsky mentioned that Japan and Hong Kong gas prices was so high (but gave no proof or data to show that it was indeed so), it also held my interest, until Google fact checker bombed him with concrete facts and data.

        In the end, the one who provided links and concrete data wins over someone say “I think I heard this mentioned somewhere but I cannot give any proof that it was so, so I’m just going to make up my own words and use ‘double’ and ‘triple’ to prove my point.”

        And if someone gives proof that debunks that person’s comment that person just runs away never to be heard from again. Who do you think has the credibility?

      • @Former skeptic, believe it or not, some of us have jobs/hobbies, and can’t spend hours a day arguing on a public transit agency’s blog (e.g. posting insulting messages at 10:51pm).

        As for my “made-up data”, I merely googled “gas prices by nation” and found this
        http://www.statista.com/statistics/221368/gas-prices-around-the-world/

        Yes it is from November ’14, but historically, gas prices in Asian nations have been noticeably higher than ours, which is the point I was making. And like others have said, there are many measures in place (confounding variables you choose to ignore) that make public transportation more profitable in these cities/countries. In areas with centralized downtowns where people live/work, there is a lot more foot traffic which slows cars/taxis. There are extremely high parking costs. There are fees levied on those who drive into the downtown core. There are a multitude of variables that you conveniently overlook while spouting the same old tired nonsense.

      • Sorry Noam, but it seems to me that the other side already has won.

        It doesn’t take too much to Google stuff up and copy-paste a link so if you have a comment to make to make your point, back it up. People who post stuff without proof or data to back their story has less credibility that those that do take the additional 5-10 sec to do so. And once your side realizes that mistake and comes back with links and proof, the topic has already moved to somewhere else.

        You said, “double” or “triple” but gave no proof. The other side refuted with Google checks and now your side looks bad. Now you come back and say this is your proof. The damage has been done, you lost your chance the very first moment when you made a comment without giving any proof.

  7. Oh, I guess I left off my list one more thing from my list of typical comments here: Number 4: The usual right-wing screeds about how EVERYTHING government-run is inefficient and corruptly managed and filled with inherently lazy public employees suckling at the taxpayer trough. Enough already, please!

    This is a shibboleth and typical of the shallow thinking of people who post silly illustrations such as the one above. As I implied before, if private enterprise really felt that it could make a profit at running public transportation, public health and so forth, it would have done so already. The reason government is in these businesses is because no firms have a desire to do so because there is no opportunity for profit, yet they are the necessary services that a civilized society relies on to function without anarchy. Should we also privatize law enforcement, fire protection, the armed forces and so forth? I think not.

    • “Should we also privatize law enforcement, fire protection, the armed forces and so forth? I think not.”

      Ah yes, the usual argument that comes up when everything else fails. That along with “oh you must be a shareholder of so-and-so.” The liberal playbook is so easy to understand. You liberals who love their government masters who want to shove down nanny state idealism to everybody else’s throats have one thing in common:

      http://www.politifake.org/image/political/1301/stop-the-liberal-hate-battaile-politics-1359689165.jpg

      Has any country in the world privatized law enforcement, fire protection and armed services? I think not.
      Has any country in the world privatized mass transit? Yes indeed they have.

      There’s your difference with your strawman argument to try and change the subject because you cannot come up with a good rebuttal.

      How about the idea of privatizing airports?

      Guess what, you Europhiles who think everything that Europe does should be copied over here does exactly that. Our airports are municipally owned, their airports are run by corporations. So, please tell me why it’s okay for you Europhiles who constantly cite oh Berlin, Vienna, London, Stockholm, Oslo runs mass transit so much better, but when some cites Asian countries which they too have their own great mass transit system under privatization, those ideas are brushed aside? But everything European is okay, but not Asian? Is there an underlying tone of bigotry towards Asians here? That Europeans are better than Asians? Hmm, so much for liberal tolerance indeed.

    • Sorry Bob, but I have to disagree.

      I’ve been following The Source comments for quite some time now and the “other side” you’ve mentioned is the one that’s more effective in providing concrete data, facts, and logic. I’ve seen many arguments shot down with excellent rebuttals that conjures up more debate and in my view, they are far more knowledgeable than the old guard whose only rhetoric are emotions that aren’t backed by anything.

      I remember many years ago the hot topic here was whether we should be installing gates to fight fare evasion. One side was threatening that ridership numbers will decrease and that fare evasion wasn’t a big problem, and constantly used examples like how cities like Berlin or Oslo doesn’t use them (so citing European cities are okay but Asian cities are not? Isn’t that kinda racist?). The other side gave concrete data that fare evasion was rampant, some upwards of 20% (1 in 5 not paying!) and gave excellent examples that almost every other transit oriented city in the world does not use the honor system. Eventually, gates were installed, and guess what? Ridership didn’t decrease. People who threatened they’ll never ride Metro anymore still rode Metro. Their threats were just empty threats based on emotions and it clearly showed that all they care about was keeping the system easy for fare evaders to cheat the system, perhaps being fare evaders themselves. Instead, by installing and locking the gates, Metro gained more revenue and people started paying. That already opened up many eyes that people who claim they know about transit aren’t really knowledgeable about it at all, they’re just selfish people who just wanted to continue to game the system and that’s why they didn’t like that idea, gave so many emotionally based arguments, to blind us from the fact that there are indeed other ways to do things.

      Then came the idea of distance based fares. I admit, I too was on the skeptic side but now my views has changed. After giving much thought, the other side is correct that no city in the US that runs under a flat rate system is immune to constant fare hikes, to the point that it can cost as much as $2.00 or $3.00 or more just to ride the bus, disregarding that it’s going to cost $2.00 or $3.00 to the most vulnerable of society to do things like going to the neighborhood grocery or just to go to school, all the while people who can afford a home in the suburbs, own a car, takes advantage of free parking at station and can travel many miles for the same price. It opened up my eyes that this is a classic example of “rob from the poor, give to the rich.”

      Today, I agree that our fare system is illogical; that it doesn’t make sense that someone who has to go buy groceries has to dish out the same fare as someone travelling from Long Beach to Pasadena. It’s pretty obvious that someone who travels farther should pay more than someone who goes buy groceries in their neighborhood. And many on the other side have given great examples on how this can be accomplished by providing photos, videos, and statistical data. What have you guys done? All you did was repeat the same rhetoric over and over again without providing any concrete evidence that this is the better way to go. Just like the gating issue, the people who repeat the same rhetoric over and over again against the idea of distance based fares have their own motive: keeping the things the way they are so they can continue to live the life of living out in the suburbs, owning a car, getting free parking and letting all the poor who travels short trips subsidize their longer trips. That’s selfish in my view. If not, all you have to do is come up with concrete data and facts that flat rate fare systems work better than distance based fares and that keeping parking free is the way to go. But you know you can’t so you end up saying no and making emotionally based arguments over and over again.

      You cannot win against facts. The only way to win an argument based on facts is to provide facts on your own. That takes hard work, analysis, constant scrutiny and ultimately those are the data points that win over emotionally based arguments. Just because you can’t come up with a good rebuttal doesn’t mean you can go on with childish name calling and crying about how they are making you look bad. The lowest point your side fell to was when one person mentioned how the other side was being back by corporations. Really? That’s low, you can’t win against facts so you resort to name calling. Sad.

      If you don’t want to look bad, all you need to do is to show us your proof, your data, your analysis. Do you have college professors and university research papers to back up your claims? The other side has provided those data and that’s a far more scientific analysis and leads to higher credibility than your side does. I think we all can agree that there is climate change going on, but the reason why there is climate change is because the scientific facts and data are there. Then why do you dismiss academic research papers and decades of studies by renowned transit professors in this field who all say that distance based fares are the better way to go?

      Yes, I too wonder why if the reason why Asian transit agencies work better, more independently and can run without tax dollars, then why aren’t high density cities like New York and Boston doing any better? New York and Hong Kong are very similar in population, area size, population density, and mass transit usage. One runs as a government bureaucracy while the other runs as a private corporation. One has constant flat rate fare increases, the other hasn’t had any major fare hikes and fares remain fair and low with a distance based system. One barely squeaks by with 50% farebox recovery ratio, the other makes an astonishing 180% farebox recovery ratio. This is a question that has yet to be rebuttaled by anyone on your side to convince others like me why we should still stick with government running mass transit when the NYCMTA cannot run effectively while Hong Kong can under privatization.

      Running transit should be done the most efficient and effective way possible and it is a very well known fact that the vast majority of Metro riders do not like the way public transit is being run here in LA. It is true we have fare hikes, service cut backs, frequent maintenance delays, an extremely outdated TAP website, many unanswered questions, unsympathetic bureaucrats, and calls for more taxes despite year after year of promises that are unkept.

      Sorry for the long response, but I just wanted to get the word out that there are many people like me who have changed their views because of the rebuttals made by the other side and that you can’t simply brush these people off like their views don’t matter. You can’t pick and choose what you like, you can’t say Metro needs to learn from Europe but dismiss others who say Metro should look to Asia, you can’t say Metro should look at what NYC and San Francisco does but dismiss what Tokyo or Hong Kong does. And when you make the argument that Metro should look at NYC and San Francisco, you can’t say that LA isn’t high density like Tokyo or Hong Kong (but New York and San Francisco isn’t?)

      If that’s the attitude you end up taking, it only makes yourself in worse and fewer and fewer people will listen to you because people begin to see through that you can’t get your story and arguments straight, that you’re really in it because of selfish reasons, and that you only end up using emotionally based arguments for that sake.

  8. When I was in Tokyo, a one way taxi ride to the Airport from the center of the city cost about 25,000 yen or over $200 at rush hour. The trains had a virtual monopoly with that pricing. As far as getting around Tokyo or Hong Kong with your own car – forget it. There is no where to park and you’d go crazy trying or pay parking rates that would bankrupt you quickly. Singapore even slaps a huge fee for just taking a car into parts of the city. Compare that to Los Angeles which is basically a giant parking lot with a city sprinkled in and this debunks the whole if we just let a private company do it, it would be insanely profitable line. There is no comparison between the areas and simple arguments trying to correlate the two are pretty much meaningless without taking into account all of the structural differences

    • “When I was in Tokyo, a one way taxi ride to the Airport from the center of the city cost about 25,000 yen or over $200 at rush hour. The trains had a virtual monopoly with that pricing.”

      Of course, if one takes it into that context it can be misleading. Typical liberal play; skew the facts to prove ones point, while disregarding other facts.

      Which airport in Tokyo are you referring to? Tokyo-Haneda (in Tokyo) or Tokyo-Narita (which is actually in Chiba Prefecture)?

      To where in Tokyo from the airport (whichever you used) were you heading to? Shinjuku? Roppongi? Ueno? Shinagawa?

      Fares from the airport differ from one end of Tokyo to the other. A taxi ride from Narita to Ueno (over 50 miles) is going to be a lot more expensive than Haneda to Shinagawa (only 9 miles).

      Please explain. Which airport, to where? Most likely, you did Narita to Tokyo; if you thought it was wise to take a cab for a 50 mile trip alone, then I’m not going to feel sorry for you when you could’ve taken other inexpensive options or have taken the same cab ride with others heading the same direction to split the cab fare.

      Did you use the express train or the local trains? Express trains like the Keisei Skyliner and JR Narita Express has an express surcharge compared to local trains like the JR Narita Line or the Keisei Narita Line.

      Which train provider did you use? JR, Keisei, Keikyu or Tokyo Monorail? They’re all operated by different companies that have different pricing rates as they all compete with each other.

      Did you know about the Airport Limousine option?

      “Compare that to Los Angeles which is basically a giant parking lot with a city sprinkled in and this debunks the whole if we just let a private company do it, it would be insanely profitable line. There is no comparison between the areas and simple arguments trying to correlate the two are pretty much meaningless without taking into account all of the structural differences”

      Sure. But you can’t also dismiss the argument then why New York and Boston, which share similar characteristics as Hong Kong and Singapore (high parking fees, not a desirable place to own cars, high mass transit usage, high density) are unable to achieve the same level of profitability or farebox recovery ratios as they do.

      Doesn’t that say much about that even the best we have in the US, like NYC and Boston, sucks? That NYCMTA and Boston MBTA, both being government run cannot figure out how to run a profitable system compared to HKMTR or SMRT? And does the NYCMTA or the Boston MBTA have any intent to do so despite having the similar characteristics as Hong Kong or Singapore? No. Why is that?

      Then perhaps, shouldn’t LA Metro stop looking up to NYC and Boston and instead learn from HKMTR and SMRT instead?

      • No, Boston and New York are not exactly like Tokyo. For starters, Japan spent a great deal of government money building a train infrastructure including high speed rail of which Tokyo is at the center of, while the US has no high speed rail and has spent nearly all its money on auto infrastructure even on the East Coast. Japan has no oil and for the most part has no close allies that could provide them with oil at all times due to their history of military aggression and atrocities and felt they had to build these systems. Ironically, Japan is heavily in debt because of their infrastructure spending, some of which is related to rail and their extreme debt is part of the reason their economy has been a disaster over the last quarter century.

        For example, when one lands in New York either at Newark or the other airports, it is often fairly tough to even take a train, but not too crazy to take a taxi. Not the case in Tokyo. Taxis and driving cars is much cheaper in the US than Japan. It is a simple fact that cannot be refuted. Asian cities have almost nothing in common with their North American counterparts and in any case, this is a blog about Los Angeles transit not Japanese or Asian transit so the constant comments on Asia are really out of place.

      • “For starters, Japan spent a great deal of government money building a train infrastructure…”

        Not withstanding the idea that one needs to back their claims up with proof and links as noted by former skeptic above, I have to ask where exactly does this imagined theory stem from?

        See my post several posts above which refutes this argument as many private train operators has existed in Japan since the turn of the 19th/20th century who rail lines were developed without any help from government. Rail operators like Seibu, Tobu, Keisei, and Keikyu have been in operation since the 1890s-1900s even before WWII. And there are others who privately built rail post WWII also. None different from the Huntington era when P&E ran here without taxpayer assistance.

        “..including high speed rail of which Tokyo is at the center of, while the US has no high speed rail…”

        High speed rail is not just specific to Japan. There are other countries that have build HSR system, such as South Korea, Taiwan, China, Germany, France, Italy, Spain, etc. etc.

        “and has spent nearly all its money on auto infrastructure even on the East Coast…”

        The US doesn’t spend “all its money” on auto infrastructure. The largest budget use from our tax dollars go to our nation’s military. Transportation funding is mainly run by state and local authorities using state and local taxes. If so, it is in the best interest that state and local authorities find ways to use our tax dollars wisely and look to ways to improve the finances of their systems, not keep begging taxpayers for more money.

        “Japan has no oil…”
        Again, issue that is not special to Japan. As for poor natural resources, countries like Taiwan, Singapore, Hong Kong and South Korea also faces the same situation of “no oil” and is reliant mainly on imports. And even if it did, an oil rich country like Kuwait and UAE still builds better mass transit than we do so the US being “oil rich” isn’t a valid excuse as oil rich Kuwait and UAE is able to built good mass transit infrastructures too

        http://www.constructionweekonline.com/pictures/MEP/Infra%20projects/8_Kuwait%20Metro.jpg
        http://gulfnews.com/polopoly_fs/1.1227863!/image/2253886440.jpg

        “For example, when one lands in New York either at Newark or the other airports, it is often fairly tough to even take a train, but not too crazy to take a taxi. Not the case in Tokyo.”

        You seem to dodge around the question whether you landed in NRT or HND as noted above, which as former skeptic would say, leads to questionable credibility of your claims that you’ve actually visited Japan. I for one have travelled many times to Japan and find that it’s not that of a hassle to take a taxi from HND to where I’m going to Tokyo and it’s not much different from hailing a cab from JFK, LGD, or EWR. I don’t see it tough to take the E train into NYC either so I don’t get where you got the point that “it is often fairly tough to even take a train” out of JFK. And you seemingly have a narrow minded focus on disregarding Boston (which is accessible with the Silver Line BRT, taxis, even a water ferry) and Hong Kong (which are accessible by the MRT, HK buses, and taxis)

        “Taxis and driving cars is much cheaper in the US than Japan.”

        And taxis and driving cars is much cheaper in Bangkok, Delhi, Dubai than the US. I can also say that it’s cheaper to drive in Texas and Oklahoma than NY or CA. I fail to see the point you’re making.

        “Asian cities have almost nothing in common with their North American counterparts…”

        One can make the same argument that LA is not like NYC or San Francisco but that topic comes up often.
        One can make the same argument that LA is not like [insert any other European country] but that topic comes up often.
        So why single out on Asian countries?

        Also, how do you define “nothing in common with their NA counterparts?” What is the criteria? Population density? Area size? Number of transit riders? Stack up all the data of New York and Hong Kong, they match up pretty much the same. Stack up LA County and Tokyo Metro and London, they also are similar. We went through this before and every time the statistics was matched up, there was dead silence.

        ” this is a blog about Los Angeles transit not Japanese or Asian transit so the constant comments on Asia are really out of place.”

        Sorry, it doesn’t work that way. This is after all a public forum, paid with tax dollars. If you haven’t noticed, LA has a lot of Asian Americans who are taxpayers themselves and we do have the largest Asian American population in the US so you’re going to get a lot of comments about Asian transit whether you like it or not. Furthermore, if you’re going to the route to silence non-LA matters, then you must do the same about those who cite other US cities and Europe as well.

  9. Some people are unconsciously racist in nature. They would be all for openness and fairness for all, but only when it pertains to their white culture views. That’s why they would support European ideas or look to other cities in the US for inspiration because they’re the same white culture, but they have a hard time accepting that a non-white culture like Asians can also run transit on their own way too and can’t accept the reality that Koreans, Chinese, and Japanese have perfected a better way to run mass transit.

    Every Korean will tell you that Seoul is 100X better at running mass transit than LA.
    Every Chinese will tell you that Beijing, Hong Kong and Taipei is 100X better at running mass transit than LA.
    Every Japanese will tell you that Tokyo and Osaka is 100X better at running mass transit than LA.

    But when Asians speak up on what Metro should be doing, the white folks bring down the wall by saying LA isn’t like Asia and start to throw bunch of excuses one after another but conveniently disregard that LA isn’t like New York or Paris either and uses those examples like those are okay.

    That’s how they are, they only accept views that are the same as theirs. Every Asian American I know all feel this and sees through the white hypocrisy. Europe is good, Asia is not.

    Here’s a better compromise: Why can’t they just accept both parts that work?

    The US needs to learn to stop spending so much money on wars and put more money back into infrastructure, just like the Europeans.

    The US needs to invest heavily in mass transit just like Europe and Asia.

    The US needs to also learn a thing or two on how to run mass transit better, look for ways to reduce dependency on taxpayers, just like Asia.

    Incorporate ideas that work from BOTH Europe and Asia. Then you get the best of both worlds.

  10. Agreed.

    When people say LA Metro system needs to become more like New York, Chicago, Boston, San Francisco, and when that’s said many times, no one raises an issue about it because it’s somehow accepted, despite LA has way different characteristics with these cities.

    When people say LA Metro system needs to become more like London, Paris, Madrid, Rome, Berlin, Amsterdam, Copenhagen, and when that’s said many times, no one raises an issue about it because it’s somehow accepted, despite LA has way different characteristics than these cities.

    But when people say LA system needs to become more like Singapore, Hong Kong, Taipei, Tokyo, Seoul, then they get all upset, and they start saying LA is way different from these cities.

    New York and London can be used as an example, but not Seoul or Hong Kong. All of these cities have different characteristics than LA but New York and London is ok, but not Seoul or Hong Kong. Why? If other US cities and European cities that have different characteristics than LA are accepted, so should examples of Asian cities should also be equally accepted. They do have way better mass transit systems than we do, they do run them just as good or even better than other US cities or European ones, so why do people single out that Asian ideas don’t matter? White pride?

    • The reason why people don’t say LA is not comparable to London is because there are not 10 posters on every Source post going on and on about the London transit system like they do about Asia. Of course London is not anything like LA. They have much higher gas taxes, little parking, and a big toll for even driving into the city, but there aren’t a bunch of English expats hijacking the comments about how much better the Tube is over anything in the U.S.

      Every other post has someone going on and on about Asia in the comments even if the subject has nothing to do with Asia like this one. What I don’t get us why these people just complain and complain and even say many Americans are racist. If they are so miserable why not just go live in the promised land and be happy.

      • Here’s a different perspective:

        At least you’re not dealing with anti-mass transit Republicans. They’re idea is that we should scrap mass transit funding altogether, say no to everything, will not discuss the issue at hand at all, and they’re way of thinking is just continue to build more roads and freeways.

        If there is a positive in this is that both camps are pro-mass transit. The only difference is that one prefers the US/European method of being under government monopoly, while the other prefers the Asian method which is more libertarian through privatization and competition.

        Seeing that both sides are pro-mass transit, I think there is room for compromise here. After all, some of pro-Asian mass transit ideas do make logical sense.

        We can try ending free parking so Metro can recover more revenue instead of giving it away for free. It’s not like this isn’t being done today elsewhere in the US; BART stations up north requires BART riders to pay to park.

        We can try looking into expanding the uses of our stations to add in ATM machines, coffee stands, newstands, or increase private-public partnership to add in retail space to our highly underutilized stations. This is a concept that is used commonly in other US cities and over in Europe.

        We can look into distance based fares, at least for our Metro Rail system for starters. It is true that you can’t expect to keep the same fare to go from Koreatown to DTLA the same as going from Santa Monica to Azusa.

        And we can stand to loosen government restrictions toward transit startups so they can enter the market easier without going through confusing bureaucratic and regulatory hurdles. Competition is good so if private startups are able to get into the transit market in a level playing field to compete with public transit, then it will benefit us all with more options and eventually, lower fares.

      • Furthermore perspective:

        “If they are so miserable why not just go live in the promised land and be happy.”

        I doubt this kind of attitude is going to get us nowhere or makes you look in a positive light.

        One can simply say that argument to shut any further discussion to any person who is frustrated living in LA, not just Asians, who is frustrated with our car-crazed and gridlocked automobile centric lifestyle. Nothing more different as saying “if you don’t like the traffic jams, move to Phoenix, AZ or Boise, ID” and nothing different from saying “if you don’t like how LA isn’t like NYC, go live in NYC.”

        Besides, one can say that to end any type of discussion for any type of topic like “if you want same-sex marriage, why don’t you go move to Ireland!” or “if you want legalized marijuana, then move to Washington or Colorado!” It’s a tactic that is used all too often by both sides that only spreads the division of Americans instead of uniting us together through compromise and discussion.

        Each side must be willing to accept a compromise in this situation. There is some truth to the Asian ideas that we all need to accept. Free parking is costly to taxpayers and does not promote a transit oriented lifestyle. We cannot continue to run an ever increasing flat rate system that inevitably hurts the vast majority of the poor, many of them who do not travel far. We must look at other opportunities for Metro to gain more additional revenue, like adding in more retail opportunities at rail stations and using more of the walls and stairs as places to put artistic advertisements. We can stand to relax some regulations to promote the growth of new transit startups.

        If you say no to these fair and logical ideas, you’re not much different from the GOP who says no to everything. You’re pitting pro-mass transit against each other which is what the anti-mass transit GOP wants; weakening the mass transit movement and continued reliance on roads, freeways, and automobiles.

      • I agree. Matt, is Donald Trump your long lost cousin five times removed? And all that talk about being tolerant and not attacking others, it’s all okay when the you break it, I suppose.

        Trying to end the discussion by telling people that if they don’t like it, they can move back to where they came from is completely racist in itself and showcases that you are deep down, intolerant except for the views you agree with. Now I know why there’s all these tolerant liberal hypocrisy memes, because it’s true.

        This comment only shows the true nature that you consider Asians as second class citizens despite Asian-Americans are taxpayers just like everyone else who have all the right to voice their opinions and matters on public issues like transit. Only you and your white ideas matter; only US and Europe, white countries are right. Asians, Jews, blacks, Hispanics, everyone else are just second class citizens in your view who should just bow down to what you and what the white people say. And if the you don’t like non-white ideas, you want us to leave.

        It’s basically saying “I don’t want to hear your ideas, I don’t like Asians (or any other non-white race) invading our prestigious culture, so go back to your own country!”

        You hit a new low. You should be ashamed of yourself. How would you feel if someone said “if you don’t like LA, why don’t you go back to Europe where your ancestors came from?”

        The only people who have the right to say “go back where you came from” in the US are the Native American Indians. Everyone else is a guest in their land.

  11. LA should just sell Metro to Korea. They’ll get things running faster and better in one year than Metro can do in one decade. Just look at how backward the TAP website is. If Koreans were running Metro, they’ll get it fixed in less than a week!

  12. “The reason why people don’t say LA is not comparable to London is because there are not 10 posters on every Source post going on and on about the London transit system like they do about Asia. Of course London is not anything like LA. They have much higher gas taxes, little parking, and a big toll for even driving into the city, but there aren’t a bunch of English expats hijacking the comments about how much better the Tube is over anything in the U.S.”

    Yes there were; you just haven’t been paying attention.

    There have been many posts about how LA shouldn’t install fare gates because Berlin, Oslo and Vienna doesn’t do so, despite LA being very different from Berlin, Oslo, and Vienna.

    There have been many posts about how LA should become bicycle friendly because Stockholm and Amsterdam is that way, despite LA being very different from Stockholm and Amsterdam.

    There have been many posts about how LA should keep doing the flat rate system with transfers because that’s what every other city in the US does, despite LA isn’t like any other city in the US.

    We’re not New York, Boston, or San Francisco (densely populated over a small area), and we sure aren’t Houston, Atlanta or Chicago either (sparsely populate over a wide area). And we sure aren’t Berlin, Oslo, Vienna, Stockholm and Amsterdam either.

    What LA Metro has to cover as a county agency is a league on its own. No city or metropolitan area in the US or Europe has the issues LA Metro has to deal with. It needs to serve 10 million residents; the most largest populated county in the nation that’s densely populated over a wide area.

    See, unlike New York or San Francisco, LA isn’t a place where everyone lives in the suburbs and commutes into Downtown. People live all over LA and people work all over LA. You can’t apply New York, San Francisco, or Boston logic to LA transit planning.

    And unlike Berlin, Oslo, Stockholm, or Amsterdam, LA isn’t a small city. By LA standards these cities are small. We have 10 million people living here spread out over a wide area, and therefore, Berlin or Stockholm logic to LA transit planning cannot be applied either.

    So what other methods are there that people have overlooked?

    Has anyone given insight to what Asian cities does? Is there anything that they do that is worth taking a look? Well, places like Beijing, Taipei, Seoul, Busan, Tokyo and Osaka all share similar characteristics like LA where they are densely populated over a wide area. We also happen to be sister cities with some of them like Nagoya, Busan, and Taipei; LA shares similar characteristics as these places, that’s why we have sister city relations with them.

    Much as Metro has to serve 10 million residents from Thousand Oaks to Anaheim, from Lancaster/Palmdale to San Pedro, so does Seoul, Busan, Taipei, Nagoya, Osaka and Tokyo have to serve 3-4 times that amount every single day over a wide area. How are they able to accomplish their feat? It seems they know what they are doing, they run better transit than any US city does, they run them profitably, are there any ideas that we should incorporate some ideas from them, much as we have done with taking ideas from other US cities and European ones in the past?

    And hey, we just happen to have lots of Asian Americans living here in LA who understands these stuff and can provide valuable insight on how Asian mass transit operates.

    “If they are so miserable why not just go live in the promised land and be happy.”

    Right back at you, sir. If you don’t want to live in a place like Southern California where there’s so many Asian-Americans and don’t want to hear their ideas, you’re free to move to elsewhere.

  13. “If there is a positive in this is that both camps are pro-mass transit. The only difference is that one prefers the US/European method of being under government monopoly, while the other prefers the Asian method which is more libertarian through privatization and competition.”

    Completely agree.

    It’s ridiculous that they’re on the same side but one is risking losing a bloc of mass transit supporters over to the GOP just because they don’t agree with the libertarian views they hold on how mass transit should be run. If there are ways for Metro to start making additional revenue on its own to lower taxpayer burden, those ideas should be explored.

    What’s wrong with Metro finding ways to money on their own? The more Metro is able to find ways to increase revenue on its own the better for us all. I wouldn’t mind paying for parking at train stations. If people have a problem with this and want to skimp on parking, they’re still free to drive and deal with the traffic nightmares and the $30/day parking rates in DTLA. They’ll come back crawling to Metro because they’ll see that it’s still cheaper and less of a hassle to pay for parking and ride Metro than commute in congested freeways and pay for parking in DTLA.

    What’s wrong with the idea of distance based fares? We tried the honor system and that was a complete disaster (duh, who didn’t see that from a mile away). We’ve tried pay per boarding and that didn’t work. We tried jacking up fares by a quarter while providing free transfers yet that’s not producing the results as Metro hoped for either (ridership is actually declining). And their solution is that jacking up fares to $2.00, perhaps even $3.00 is going to help. Completely illogical and stupid if you ask me. The only thing left to try is distance based fares and technology allows us to do that today, but somehow, they don’t like that idea because now they’re going to end up paying more because they chose to live so far away from where they work.

    What’s wrong with the idea of reducing redtape and government regulations to help bring new venture capital startups get into the mass transit game? It’ll lead to competition, lower fares, public transit will be forced to compete directly with private enterprises, and will have to start doing things better to keep up with what the people demand. But, these people love socialism so much and hate capitalism (yet ironically, they’re likely to be the biggest buyers of Apple and Google products) that they’d rather keep things the way things are today. You know what we call people who want to maintain the status quo? Conservatives. Yes, these people are conservatives in their own way because they don’t want to change and continue to repeat the same old mistakes over and over again. They’re really not much different from the GOP.

    Yet, all these ideas are no, no and no, just because they are “too foreign.” Of course when they say “too foreign,” they’re completely okay with ideas like the honor system used in European countries.

    Keep it up, continue to say no to everything, sooner or later, these libertarian mass transit supporters will just go on and join up with Republicans who are completely against mass transit. Little by little, the pro mass transit group will become smaller and smaller, all because stubborn people don’t want to compromise with common sense solutions and ideas.