Edmonton Transit Systems’ latest to promote riding the bus:
•Idle Thoughts: There’s a nice new bar and restaurant in South Pasadena next to the Gold Line Station: Communal Food & Drink in the old Firefly building. It’s a nice addition to the neighborhood immediately around the train station, which also includes Mike & Annes, Crossings, Buster’s, Heirloom Cafe, Bistro de la Gare, Senor Fish, Mix-n-munch, Aro and Griffins. I’m probably forgetting one or two — and there are some other good places a short walk away on Fair Oaks (Gus’s Barbecue and the Fair Oaks Pharmacy, to name two).
The neighborhood near the train tracks has always been nice but I’ve seen a lot of businesses come and go since the Gold Line opened in 2003. It seems like things have stabilized. Perhaps it helps that the South Pas station is one of the busiest on the Gold line. Perhaps it also helps that a handful of new residential buildings have been added to the mix in recent years providing potential customers for the new restaurants and other businesses.
Fun Facts: In 2000, South Pas had 10,850 housing units, according to the Census Bureau. The latest Census Bureau numbers show South Pas had an estimated 10,983 housing units in 2013. That’s hardly a dramatic change — statistically it’s basically unchanged — although the city’s population has gone from 24,292 in 2000 to an estimated 26,156 today.
I don’t live in South Pas but it will be fascinating to see how the city keeps changing, especially near the Gold Line as the Metro Rail network grows. As with many cities in So Cal, there’s always going to be tension about growth and traffic and density — and I think there will certainly be more pressure for South Pas to grow. We’ll see how it plays out.
The advocacy group’s latest proposal for the potential Metro long-range plan update and potential ballot measure next year. They propose a half-cent sales tax increase for 45 years (Measure R was a half-cent sales tax for 30 years and expires in mid-2039) with 35 percent of the funds going to rail transit and 25 percent of revenues being returned to cities on a per capita basis for their own projects. That’s a notable departure from Measure R, which returns 15 percent to local cities.
As for transit projects, the group backs extending the Crenshaw/LAX Line to the Red Line in Hollywood, a Sepulveda Pass train, light rail on Van Nuys Boulevard to Sylmar, Orange Line upgrades (but not to rail), extending the Eastside Gold Line to both South El Monte and Whittier, extending the Gold Line to Claremont and extending the Green Line to Torrance. Some of these are projects with some Measure R funding.
POINT OF EMPHASIS: Metro is in the midst of looking at long-range plan update and ballot measure. The agency may decide to pursue them. It may not. But the agency hasn’t released an expenditure plan with particular projects and that won’t happen until next year. If it does, the Metro plan may or may not bear resemblance to what MoveLA proposes. The obvious public policy question raised here is whether the MoveLA plan — or any plan, for that matter — is financially sound and will build what it says it will build.
Op-Ed: Can our transit system get any worse? (New York Times)
Transit in New York metro area is sky-high. But delays are common and New York Metro is seeking more than 26 billion for an array of fixes and upgrades. What went wrong? Thomas K. Wright argues that too much political intrusion hasn’t helped.
And these graphs, which should send some of our anonymous commenters into unbridled joy that may even cause them to get up from their computers and break into song and dance:
We can learn from others. London and Stockholm have “congestion pricing” that generates revenue for mass transit while limiting the flow of cars in their central business districts. Hong Kong’s transit agency, the MTR, is a for-profit company in which the government holds a majority stake. Because it is publicly traded, it can avoid patronage hiring. By purchasing real estate and leasing property, it acquires revenue while keeping fares low.
Those examples — superior to any American model — recognize that it is appropriate for a transit system to have diverse sources for funds. Their decision-making structures are responsive to constituents, yet insulated from politicians. They allow long-term planning.
Metro’s ExpressLanes does send money back to the agency — enough, for example, to add Dodger Stadium Express service from Harbor Gateway. It remains to be seen whether more congestion pricing lanes will be added in our county — and how much money they can raise.
As for a transit agency completely changing its structure to be more like Hong Kong…that’s a heavy lift and I don’t see it happening quite yet in the U.S. If it does happen, I think it’s more likely to happen in a smaller metro area that is more willing to take risks and more willing to experiment with something that seemingly makes government a lot bigger and more powerful. And that metro area is where?
Highlights from Metro CEO speaking at Zocalo (Streetsblog LA)
Joe Linton listened carefully and notes three things in particular: that Phil Washington didn’t make it sound like another round fare increases were imminent; that Washington was somewhat skeptical about the need for further gating at stations, and; that Washington doesn’t want Metro judged simply on its ability to get cars off the road — i.e., ‘fix traffic.’
Places where I don’t want to sit (Strong Towns)
Smart post about cities and/or businesses putting public benches in all the wrong places.
L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti talks #BikeLA with Ryan Seacrest (KIIS)
Deejay Ryan Seacrest is an avid biker and discusses some recent bike lane developments with Garcetti, who is also a member of the Metro Board of Directors.
Op-Ed: Mr. Mayor, L.A. is not Stockholm (L.A. Times)
Santa Monica business owner Bruce Feldman writes that reducing car lanes to accommodate more bus and bike lanes will simply create more traffic because the L.A. region doesn’t have enough transit yet to provide an alternative to driving. He also argues that L.A. should not strive to be more like European cities that do have popular central business districts bustling with transit and residential properties.
Bruce’s idea: get rid of street parking, use the former parking lanes for things like bus and bike lanes, build more small parking lots to make up for lost street parking and run extremely frequent bus service on major corridors — with buses arriving every three to seven minutes.
As I’ve written many times before, there’s a reason that we don’t have more bus lanes around the region — losing a traffic lane is a very tough sell and I don’t think that’s going to change. That said, I think Bruce’s ideas are actually pretty compatible with some of the things that the city of L.A. is trying to do with its new mobility plan and I personally believe there are higher, better uses for many parking lanes. But let’s be real: losing a parking lane is also a really tough sell, with merchants often the first to complain.
Finally, as I mentioned earlier this week, Metro is looking at revamping its bus system to add more frequent service on some busy corridors while reducing service on low ridership lines. More about that soon.
Wait….a real final thought: I don’t like it when people say L.A. can’t be this or that, and that we’re forever fated to be a sprawling collection of single-family bungalows connected by cars. Folks, L.A. can be whatever it wants to be. Sure, the region’s past is important and constrains some decisions. But the region’s future, in my view (perhaps dim), is an open book to be written by you, the voters and taxpayers.
Categories: Transportation Headlines