Art of Transit:
Newsflash!: If you haven’t seen, here’s a Metro staff update on work to update the agency’s long-range plan and a potential ballot measure in Nov. 2016 to raise money for projects. In plain English: if you’re concerned about future projects that Metro may build, pay attention to this process.
In this editorial, Metro CEO Phil Washington is quoted frequently saying that the agency does not want to see some of its core customers displaced from neighborhoods around transit stations. Excerpt:
Washington said Friday that the agency would go even further with its Transit-Oriented Community Demonstration Program, in which Metro will work with cities to study development patterns and opportunities within two miles of stations. Staff will present 10 to 12 sites that could become pilot projects at the Metro board’s Oct. 22 meeting.
But many community advocates want Metro to do even more. During a Planning and Conservation League symposium on sustainable cities at UCLA on Saturday, attendees pressed Calvin Hollis, who oversees Metro’s real estate and development operation, on what more the agency could do to prevent displacement along transit lines. Could, for example, Metro require that cities build or zone for affordable housing if they receive transit funding? Hollis said Metro is focused on giving local officials tools and incentives — not mandates — to help deal with gentrification.
Metro does work with developers to build residential projects on land left over from construction of transit projects through the agency’s joint development program. The challenge is that such parcels are limited. Cities in Los Angeles County through their zoning codes say what type of buildings are allowed near stations. As the editorial notes, however, cities are often slow to update their codes and do what it takes to attract private developers or nonprofits that specialize in building affordable housing.
We’ll have a post later this week looking at transit-oriented development around the county. As you’ll see, many of the TODs do skew toward the luxury side. Speaking of….
Downtown L.A. becomes a popular place to build a condo (NPR)
DTLA is the focus of this piece about an interesting trend: new residents are moving to downtowns across the U.S. at seemingly a higher rate than new office-type jobs. Some interesting stats from this report: the resident population of 27,000 in DTLA in 2000 is expected to soon triple; about 20 percent of the office space in DTLA is vacant; one local academic says we have fewer people working in DTLA than in downtown Seattle, and; about 2.5 percent of the area’s workforce is in DTLA.
And one more stat, not in the above report but from a 2010 Census Bureau release: “Between the 2000 and 2010 censuses, metro areas with 5 million or more people experienced double-digit population growth rates within their downtown areas (within a two-mile radius of their largest city’s city hall), more than double the rate of these areas overall.” The large cities with the most growth were Chicago, New York, Philadelphia, San Francisco and Washington.
It’s hardly news that jobs and job centers are spread out in Los Angeles County. We’ve known that for a long time. But I think some perspective may also be handy: DTLA still has the densest job density in the county although there are some other areas that also boast a lot of jobs — with many of those on the Westside, which is not currently served by Metro Rail. That will change next year when the second phase of the Expo Line opens and in coming years as the Purple Line Extension is constructed in three phases to Westwood with stops in the Miracle Mile, Beverly Hills and Century City.
I think that’s huge. As a new DTLA resident notes in the NPR report, he lives in downtown but it takes him an hour to drive nine miles west each day to his tech job. Hopefully he will have a better transit alternative sooner rather than later 🙂
Why Earth’s future will depend on how we build our cities (Washington Post)
Misleading headline. The Earth likely has a future; humanity and our current idea of civilization, however, may change greatly if the planet continues to warm due to climate change.
That said, the post is pretty interesting. The gist of it: there’s only so much greenhouse gases we can emit and keep the planet from warming less than two degrees Celsius — the threshold for a lot of bad things happening. If we build cities as we have in the past — inefficient buildings and lots of driving — then we’re likely going over the emissions limit. If we build smarter, then maybe not.
As we’ve said before: generally speaking, switching from driving alone to taking transit is a way to lower the greenhouse gas emissions that you are responsible for.
Rail fare elasticities are not uniform, at least not in LA (Lisa Schweitzer)
The USC prof asked her students to consider the impact of the Sept. 2014 Metro fare increase on rail ridership. The findings: Blue Lineriders were the most sensitive to the fare increases — i.e. some stopped riding — whereas the new fares had no real impact on Gold Line ridership. Check out the chart with the post.
Lisa finishes the post with this:
I suspect that if we broke that bus figure out by a sample of bus lines, we’d have a similar situation, but it’s pretty clear: riders along the Blue Line, in south Los Angeles, are pretty price sensitive, and higher fares meant less travel.
This is not good news.
Also in the not-good-news department: the confounding thing is that metro ridership was declining even before the fare increase. (WHY IS THIS HAPPENING?? ARE WE NOT SPENDING BILLIONS ON TRAINS FOR YOU PEOPLE???).
She promises more soon on that last question. As we’ve written before ridership began to dip in April 2014, perhaps for a variety of reasons: maintenance and service delays, the economy picking up, fluctuations in gas prices, a crackdown on fare evasion and the fare increases. The latest ridership estimates for August show about 36.79 million boardings compared to 41.2 million boardings in 2013.
Here’s a staff report from March about ridership issues:
Recent How We Rolls:
Oct. 9: shade versus bus shelters in our region, pics of the community replaced by L.A. Union Station, a greenie looks at the issue of whether should we love or hate self-driving cars.
Oct. 8: more buzz on a potential ballot measure and potential transit projects, why guys lie about carburetors, a transit Armgeddon below the Hudson and Lex Luthor’s plans for the West Coast.
Oct. 7: ideas for Metro’s new Chief Innovation Officer, Paris sucker punches smog, Uber vs Lyft vs transit, an airplane seat arrangement scheme spawned by the Devil herself/himself.
Oct. 6: Gov. Brown signs bill allowing double-articulated buses, the ivory tower gives letter grades to Metro stations, thoughts on the non-war on driving, the cost of L.A.’s Olympic ambitions.
Oct. 1: all about cities — gentrification, TODs vs parking, the changing DTLA skyline, Show Me a Hero, cities and transit and diversity.
Categories: Transportation Headlines