How We Roll, Oct. 30: is the force with mass transit?

Oh dear. Laura’s story on naming the tunneling machine to be used on the Crenshaw/LAX Line.

Art of Transit:

And this….

Things to read while sitting/standing/waiting/stuck on transit: ‘Star Wars doesn’t belong to George Lucas, it belongs to all of us,’ in today’s NYT. As someone who saw Star Wars on its opening weekend in May 1977 (and again the following weekend), I deeply concur.

Is the force with mass transit? According to Wookiepedia:

The light side of the Force, also commonly known as the Ashla by ancient Force-sensitives on Tython, or simply the Force, was the side of the Force aligned with honesty, compassion, mercy, self-sacrifice, and other positive emotions. For the most part, the Jedi simply referred to this as the Force.

Well, transit helps those get around who may have no other way to get from Point A to Point B. That seems compassionate. And for those who do have other options, there is certainly an element of self-sacrifice when taking transit — as you may not always get a seat (unlike in your car) and you may have to take extra time or effort to ride the bus or train.

Area mobility advocate, exhausted by bus, makes decision to buy car (Streetsblog LA)

The 12-mile commute between Boyle Heights and somewhere in South L.A. involved a couple of buses, a train and walking (the article doesn’t offer specifics) and assorted transit-related hassles that frequent riders experience. It was hassle enough to cause the advocate, Erick Huerta, to buy a car to use some of the time, causing Erick to feel as if he’s joined the Dark Side (he hasn’t).

The sentence by Sahra Sulaiman that most caught my eye:

Our transit system, in other words, fails to adequately meet the needs of those who rely on it the most while catering its messaging to attract those that have the greatest number of options at their disposal.

Obviously it’s hard to sum up the experience of all riders. I suspect the above sentence holds very true for some transit dependent riders and not as much for others. To some degree, it really does depend on where you’re traveling to and from and when you’re riding. While DTLA remains the region’s job center, it’s also true that the vast majority of jobs and residences are spread far and wide in Los Angeles County, meaning transit remains a difficult proposition for many, including the transit dependent.

As for the messaging, there’s no doubt Metro is seeking new riders and a healthy slice of the messaging falls along those lines — or is about new projects aiming to get new riders.

I liked this article and I encourage you to read it. I think it efficiently offers a snapshot of the experiences of some of those who depend heavily on buses. And it raises questions about the appropriate levels of service, rail versus bus and other issues that impact commutes such as the environment around bus stops.

Analyzing Metro’s draft framework for potential 2016 ballot measure (Investing in Place) 

Jessica Meaney looks at the recent staff report on the long-range plan update and potential sales tax ballot measure to raise funds for projects. Her verdict:

As we reviewed it and listened to staff presentations we found it came up short on articulating a vision of what would a user focused measure could be. We found it came up short in sharing a narrative for the outcomes desired for mobility and accessibility for the region, but more focused on simply project lists without efforts to develop regional prioritization goals based on data and need.

For those new to this issue, Metro is looking at asking voters to raise the county sales tax by a half-cent for 40 years while extending the existing Measure R sales tax another 18 years. That would raise an estimated $120 billion between 2017 and 2057, according to Metro. More in this earlier Source post.

The Metro Board asked the agency for a “bottoms up” approach that involved going to local cities and asking for their wish list of projects. That’s pretty much where the process is at the moment. Metro has draft wish lists and needs to work with cities to refine those while staff also analyzes them to determine which may actually be effective. This document shows how projects will be analyzed before Metro draws up an expenditure list for the ballot measure.

In terms of developing a narrative, this Metro staff report discusses the education campaign behind the long-range plan update and the potential ballot measure.

Tax breaks for NYC commuters in 2016 (NY Daily News)

Businesses in San Francisco East (i.e. New York) with more than 20 employees will be required next year to offer a program that makes taking transit cheaper — for some workers by $400 a year. Here’s a pretty good explanation on the BART website.

This is the same discount that USC just dropped for its employees. Yes, the same USC with three Expo Line stations adjacent to its campus.

New Metro express bus to link NoHo and Pasadena (Pasadena Star News)

A good summary of the Pasadena-North Hollywood express bus that will launch on March 5, the same day that the Gold Line begins running to Azusa. One new detail: Metro and Caltrans are exploring whether buses could use the freeway shoulder on the 134 to get around traffic snarls. The buses will also be using the HOV lane.

Source post about the new bus line is here.


Things to read on transit: Baseball-minded riders may enjoy this article on the Five Thirty Eight blog that explains why the Royals are leading the Mets in the World Series. The short answer: The Royals don’t strike out much compared to other teams and place an emphasis on making contact and putting the ball in play.

Things to read 2: with Halloween in mind, another fun piece (okay maybe the topic isn’t super fun) on Five Thirty Eight about trying to calculate how many humans have died since we became our own species.

Recent How We Rolls:

Oct. 29: McDonald’s and the driving habits of Americans, to convert or not convert the Orange Line to rail and a great podcast on what keeps bridges from not falling down.

Oct. 28: bullet train officials say the project is on budget and on time, why transit is a tough sell in smaller cities, a really smart new bike.

Oct. 27: melting ice and record heat, Metro weighs Metrolink station relocation, 710 opposition at Board meeting, Chewbacca arrested in Ukraine.

Oct. 26: Can American reinvent its infrastructure? It has before.

Oct. 23: Social media reaction to announcement of Foothill Gold Line opening, Denver’s rail line to airport set to open in April, funny things to listen to while riding transit.



4 replies

  1. If I had to go from Boyle Heights to South LA everyday to commute, I wouldn’t be using a car or Metro, I’d be riding my motorcycle instead. The person is right, it’s too dangerous to ride a bicycle on those streets, it takes too long to travel 12 miles on Metro, but I wouldn’t have made the major leap to a car either.

    I wonder why more people don’t consider the motorcycle as a viable option? It’s like they only see black and white, it’s either the car (tremendous gas waster, biggest contributor to LA street traffic) or the Metro (too slow and too expensive for short trips).

    It’s not like they’ve never seen a motorcyclist in LA before. Is it because they don’t know how to get a class M2 license in CA (never heard of Google, perhaps)? Perhaps they think it’s too dangerous (as opposed to riding a bicycle in LA)?

    The streets of LA are already bad with traffic, that a motorcycle makes the best choice as more than likely, you’re the only one moving via the joys of lanesplitting while everyone else is stuck in traffic! LOL

  2. Also; i wish a toll carpool lane was included for the 101 to help fund an alternative either in the area or along ventura blvd. this could also ultimatly pay for both repairs on the 101 as well as the eventual conversion if the orange line to light rail in a few decades. Heavy rail along ventura blvd would also be a great option. I keep saying that sherman way is right in the middle of the valley and would be a great candidate for both development and an elevated line

  3. Isn’t it wonderful where we have authoritarian governments in San Francisco and New York butting their noses into telling businesses what to do, that they have to hand out subsidies for their commuters for the sake of their agencies’ ineptness in not keeping fares under control and all the while providing more benefits and pay raises to their union members?

    Oddly enough, other cities around the world who have excellent transit systems don’t have to resort to such measures or deal with fares that go up every two years. If fares keeping going up in New York and San Francisco, wouldn’t logic dictate that their flat rate fare system is the one that’s wrong (hint, hint, Metro)?