How We Roll, Nov. 16: L.A. vs S.F transit-wise, a cartoon vs cars

Art of Transit: 

Photo by Fabio Benni, via Flickr creative commons.

Photo by Fabio Benni, via Flickr creative commons.

From the RATP's Facebook page. Click above to visit.

From the RATP’s Facebook page. Click above to visit.

Newsflash!: Agendas and staff reports for this month’s round of Board of Director meetings have been posted. Here is the staff report on cost increases and potential delays for the Regional Connector project that the LAT wrote about last week.

Adam ruins cars (Adam Ruins Everything)

In less than two minutes, this video neatly explains problems associated with sprawl and parking. Plus there’s a cameo from an animated Donald Shoup, the UCLA parking guru. From a longer episode on the show “Adam Ruins Everything” on TruTV (looks like you need a cable subscription to watch; I’m a cord cutter so phooey).

Los Angeles vs San Francisco — the race to solve mobility issues (Smart Cities Insider)

And You Don't Know What You Want

A San Francisco streetcar: one of many ways to get around a city smaller than L.A. Photo by Thomas Hawk, via Flickr creative commons.

Really insightful interview with transit planner Timothy Papandreou, who currently works for San Francisco Muni and formerly worked at Metro here in L.A. Be sure to read to page 2 on the post — where Timothy is asked to rate Muni vs Metro on several fronts.

He has kind words for both and points out several times that comparisons are difficult because San Francisco is small at 47 square miles and L.A. is sprawling at 469 square miles. He neatly sums up the challenge here:

There are 12 downtowns in Los Angeles County. For them to really grow and be successful, you really need to connect them all with fixed guideway transit. Whether  express bus, rail or subway, it doesn’t really matter as long as the connections between them are reliable and protected from traffic. Then we need to build transit oriented development with more housing and jobs around the stations.

Well said. 👏

Uber and Lyft will be the subjects of an environmental impact study (The Verge)

#uber targets #lyft

Reducing cars on the road by driving a mobile billboard around town. Hmm. Photo by Steve Rhodes, via Flickr creative commons.

The ‘ride-hailing’ companies are teaming up with the Natural Resources Defense Council and UC Berkeley to try to get a handle on the impacts of their services on traffic and the environment. One big question to be resolved: is there any truth to claims by Uber and Lyft that they help reduce car ownership? Stay tuned.

My wild guess: probably a statistically insignificant reduction in car ownership and no great increase in overall miles driven in cities, if that can even me accurately measured. One reason behind my thinking: surge pricing.

Autonomous vehicles and the VMT problem (Human Transit) 

On the subject of vehicles mile traveled, the chief of transit in Eugene, Oregon, argues we will need ‘high quality transit’ in an autonomous car world. People aren’t going to quit driving and good transit will be necessary to get people out of their self-driving cars, help reduce congestion and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

How do public transportation maps fight climate change? (PRI)

By getting people excited enough to use transit and stop driving alone, argues one book author. I’d argue that a nice map is, well, nice and that nice, fast, frequent transit probably is much more significant.

Parking at Village at Westfield Topanga a problem for merchants and visitors (Daily News)

Actually the headlines should read “paid parking” as that is what has stirred the unhappiness. Despite the grumbling from merchants and shoppers, Westfield says it is sticking with paid parking to deter nearby workers from parking for free at the mall.

If you don’t like paying for parking and sitting in line in parking lots, you can try taking transit. Several bus lines stop nearby including the Orange Line, the 150/240, the 164 and the 244/245.

Things to read whilst transiting: a great critique and appreciation of the Rocky movies in the New Yorker — and one that understand the awesomeness of “Rocky Balboa,” the sixth film in the series. I’m looking forward to “Creed” — not quite as much as “Star Wars — but a little uneasy because the last film ended so perfectly. For those of you reading and riding who haven’t seen the original “Rocky,” it’s available on Netflix and it remains one of the greatest movies ever made. The ad men using the Rocky music to peddle their wares — embraced the dark side, they have.

Recent HWRs: 

Nov. 13: Readers recommend books to read while in transit, bike sharing debuts in SaMo, induced demand and Caltrans.

Nov. 12: Regional Connector cost increases and potential delays, suspect in bus slaying arrested, bike share and bike infrastructure, Missy Elliot in the subway.

Nov. 10: crime stats and Metro, the fare structure for Metro’s bike share program, a suggestion for future Metro transit projects.

Nov. 9: Expo Line traffic signal testing in SaMo, the human cost of failing infrastructure.

Nov. 6: the future of the Orange Line and lowering your carbon footprint.

I’m also on Twitter and have a photography blog. Metro-related questions? Email me.


10 replies

  1. Re: Maps

    The San Francisco MUNI has something I’ve never seen from any other transit agency, in all of my travels:
    A transit map that also happens to be the best city street map available anywhere at any price.

    Unlike a lot of transit maps, it does cost you a few bucks to buy your own MUNI Map, but it’s worth every penny, because it covers every street in town (including the streets that are staircases!), has an enlarged downtown section, and shows not only MUNI routes, but BART and Caltrain, as well as the AC Transit, SamTrans, and Golden Gate Transit routes entering the city. And if you don’t want to buy your own, no problem: public copies are posted at almost every bus and trolley stop that’s big enough to rate a passenger shelter, all the subway stations, and at least five major cable car stops.

  2. “San Francisco is small at 47 square miles and L.A. is sprawling at 469 square miles. He neatly sums up the challenge here: There are 12 downtowns in Los Angeles County….”

    What exactly are we comparing here, city or county?

    San Francisco is a consolidated city-county so using the 47 sq. mi figure for land space is correct. But why are you using City of Los Angeles’ area size (469 sq. mi. for land space) here when the next paragraph says Los Angeles COUNTY? Furthermore, LA Metro is a county-wide agency so the correct area size you should be stating is 4,058 sq. mi. of land space (,_California) if you’re to state the difference between counties and the area space that the main transit agencies of San Francisco and Los Angeles has to cover.

    Or is this one of those “who cares about numbers” thing because facts don’t matter?

    • There is a point that a government owned and taxpayer funded transit news site should point out analysis correctly.

      There is a big difference between comparing City and County of San Francisco (47 square miles) to City of Los Angeles (469 square miles) to County of Los Angeles (4058 square miles) and there is a difference to the area size that SF MUNI and LA County Metro does cover, and there is truth to that LA County Metro is a county wide agency that covers from Thousand Oaks (in Ventura County) to Disneyland (in Orange County) and from Sylmar to San Pedro with multiple cities within LA County in between them.

      There is this big misconception going around that Metro just serves City of LA, when it serves many cities within LA County, and that is why the Metro Board has members from other cities such as Duarte, Lakewood, Glendale, Inglewood, as well as represented by all five of the LA County Board of Supervisors.

      • Well said. Metro is a LA County agency and reporters for The Source really needs to be more specific about that when comparing with other transit agenciea in the US which are run at the city level.

        How can people trust government when government reports them wrong? People expect a certain level of professionalism in the government they pay taxes to, not the shoddy journalism that is prevelant in the media these days.

        • As per usual, I provided the link to the original story and, I believe, correctly summarized it.

          Steve Hymon
          Editor, The Source

  3. “Then we need to build transit oriented development with more housing and jobs around the stations.”

    Right back at you, Metro. Tell me again how Metro is leading by example by developing surrounding Metro owned properties such as the Culver City station and North Hollywood station with lots of free parking spaces instead of residential buildings then, hmm?

  4. If you don’t live close to a station and Metro does not offer any convenient and easy way to get there and you want to ride the Red Line, parking is good and easy to understand why it is both wanted and needed.

    I am not looking for a fight over the TOD, housing etc.

    • The flaw of this reasoning is that the vast majority of LA is not developed transit friendly and will mean that every Metro Rail station throughout LA will need large parking lots in order to accommodate riders. It goes against the logic of TOD and solving first and last mile problems.

      Land is scarce in LA today, population of LA isn’t getting any smaller, and therefore, using it for parking lots is the worst long term investments Metro can make. Land space use has to become smarter in LA and in the best interest of Metro earning extra revenue, Metro owned property has better use in residential or commercial property development or at the very least, converting said parking lots into paid lots.

      Furthermore, as more people take on ride-share services or the dawn of autonomous vehicles are already on the horizon (you can Google check that several automakers are going to be selling them next year and likely more by 2020), the reality is that people won’t even need parking lots in the future is becoming more and more realistic. Why waste valuable land space when people won’t be needing parking lots in the future and they’ll just be dropped off at a Metro station?

      It doesn’t take a genius to figure out the biggest companies interested in autonomous and self driving vehicles are going to be Uber and Lyft; get rid of the human driver, they don’t have to deal with bad Uber drivers or having them unionize for better pays.

  5. “If you don’t live close to a station…”

    Who says you can’t move there once it’s built?

    You can wait for Metro to build rail closer to where you live which can take forever to do or you can let Metro develop the properties near or at the existing stations themselves and you can move there once it’s built. The latter is a more rational idea that is more easily doable and built faster and has been the developmental model in Asia where transit service and real estate developments go together.

    Say Metro develops a 40 story condo right next to a Metro rail station. They can advertise at all the Metro lines that there is this new condo being developed and that people can live there, right near within walking distance to the Metro North Hollywood station. Everyone riding Metro will see this ad and will thing “hmm, what if I lived there, I wouldn’t need to drive to North Hollywood anymore and I can just walk to the train station. Sweet.” Metro can do that for all of their train stations whose surroundings are highly underutilized.

    As the market shifts toward higher density residences and commercial structures near rail stations, the housing market will stabilize as eventually you’ll have those homes no where near transit becoming less sought after. Then that’ll be the perfect timing for Metro to buy out those properties and redevelop them with more transit and development.