How We Roll, Sept. 9: does anyone have the faintest idea what the future will be like?

From the Dept. of Bidenjam: 

Other things from Twitter/Instagram: 

Why hello there. #weloveLA

A photo posted by Metro (@metrolosangeles) on

The report comes a transportation fellow who has been working with the city of Los Angeles’ Department of Transportation. Alissa’s write-up at Curbed provides an excellent overview of the report, which lays out a vision for making roads safer, reducing parking and using a fleet of small self-driving buses to get people around efficiently and quickly.

The idea, of course, is to reduce the need for everyone to feel like they must own a car to get around. I can actually see it happening in parts of some large cities where there is already density, high-capacity transit (read: trains) and little room for cars. I think outside the cities, things get a lot tougher, especially politically.

And thus my tweet above. I think there’s a community of people who really feel the need for the way personal transportation in the U.S. works — and they have a ton of good points about the benefits of changing things up. But I also think there’s an equally large or larger community of people who like many things about our current way of getting around, even with the problems it creates.

So who knows what the future holds (warning: mild adultish language). As the guy says on ESPN, that’s why they play the game.

Things to read whilst transiting: Chicago Cubs fans will likely pay at least $2,300 for a ticket to see their beloved losers play a World Series game, should the team get that far. As we noted yesterday, the Cubs will have to vanquish two of the following teams also likely to qualify for the playoffs: the Dodgers (quadruple jinx!), Giants, Nationals, Mets or Cardinals.

Things to listen to whilst transiting: Joe Lemon and I have issued our Super Bowl 51 predictions via podcast: I’ve got the Vikings playing the Bengals and Joe goes with the Patriots and Cardinals — who happen to play this Sunday night on NBC. The Broncos certainly looked good last night and, yes, I’m only saying that because my boss is crazy for the Broncos. 😇 Quasi-related: looks to me like the Cowboys are on Sunday Night Football about three too many times. Blech.

Gov. Brown signs sweeping climate change legislation (LAT)

The gist of it: “The legislation, SB 32, requires the state to slash greenhouse gas emissions to 40% below 1990 levels by 2030, a much more ambitious target than the previous goal of hitting 1990 levels by 2020.”

Later in the article: “Perhaps the biggest challenge is getting more clean cars on the roads, a key issue in a sprawling state where residents can face long commutes to work.”

And this — the bill doesn’t directly address the state’s cap-and-trade program, which is used to fund transportation and transit projects. The state’s bullet train project is relying on cap-trade money, for example, in order to build the initial stretch between the Central Valley and the Bay Area.

Obviously targets shouldn’t be mistaken for action. But it’s impressive that California is striving to make significant cuts to greenhouse gas emissions. I’ll add a couple things: generally speaking, taking transit instead of driving alone is one way to reduce your greenhouse gas emissions. And, second, I think more high-quality transit projects that give people an alternative to driving alone would be very helpful.

Obama on climate change: the trends are terrifying (NYT)

This is part of an series of articles looking at Obama’s two terms as President. The reporters take a critical look at Barack Obama’s policies on climate change, giving him credit for signing laws that will cut greenhouse gas from across the U.S. economy but also suggesting he could have done more — in particular by better working with Republicans on a federal cap-trade program.

Related: the American pika — a very cute lagomorph found at high elevations — is having trouble coping with warming temperatures in three mountain ranges in the West.


Will the Cincinnati Streetcar raise property values? (Cincy Enquirer)

Cincinnati Streetcar

After 10 years of talk and planning and construction and controversy, my hometown is finally opening their 3.6-mile downtown streetcar this weekend. As with most streetcar projects, this one was sold partially on its ability to attract development along its route.

The Enquirer, however, looked at real estate values along the route and has found that overall they’re not much different than in 2008. That said, the gentrification of the area continues although it’s anyone’s guess whether the streetcar was the impetus or it was something more organic that came about.

I’m curious to see the thing in action during my next visit, but I don’t think it does much for what ails the Cincy metro area — rampant, car-centric suburban growth. That has resulted in many communities in which driving is the only option, resulting in horrible, horrible traffic.

Ford buys bus shuttle Chariot (recode) 

More proof that everyone wants to be in the personal mobility game. Chariot is a privately- run system of vans that run in San Francisco, mostly on fixed routes. It’s typically $3 to $5 for a ride or $119 for a monthly pass. A monthly pass for SF Muni buses and light along with BART is $86.

It sounds like Chariot wants to eventually get to be an on-demand system in which routes are determined by where people are going. But they’re not there yet. Public transit, as we all know, is hardly an exercise in making profits and it will be if the private sector can change that. I am skeptical given the costs involved: vehicles, mechanics, drivers and technology. Then again, maybe there’s a ton of people willing to pay more not to ride a public bus or train.

11 replies

    • Pretty good month for rail but overall mostly the same as previous months. I think the Blue Line numbers are still a little soft due to maintenance etc. — and the Blue Line is a driver for ridership on the Red/Purple Line. Nice bump on bus side from July to August, almost certainly due to schools starting. August is a bit of an oddball month as a lot of people tend to take vacations while schools are returning mid-month. September should be interesting with most schools in session for the entire month and most people back from summer vacation. Your thoughts?

      Steve Hymon
      Editor, The Source

      Steve Hymon
      Editor, The Source

    • I’m glad you asked. Mostly I’m surprised that the ridership numbers for Expo haven’t jumped since they finally managed to provide consistent 3-car service as of the middle of August. Of course it’s difficult to take monthly Metro Rail estimates seriously since they’re based on a 6-month rolling average. Ask me again in December.

      • Pretty decent numbers (not much change year over year for old lines and decent increases year over year for Expo and Gold) though as ExpoRider said, a bit surprising not to see an Expo Line bump month over month–maybe we’ll see a delayed one in September? With a lot of west side USC students using the line and the start of USC and Rams football, I’m hoping for an uptick next month. Will also be interesting to see what happens in December with the 6 minute headways–that could be a real game changer.

        • I think there’s usually a bump in Sept and Oct when all schools are in session and vacation season is over for most folks.

          Steve Hymon
          Editor, The Source

  1. California’s long-term goal is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 80% or more below 1990 levels by 2050, in line with the scale of reduction that is necessary (globally speaking) to get climate change under control. SB 32’s target of getting 40% below 1990 levels by 2030 is just an intermediate step towards that larger goal. California politically is in a place where it can sustain increasingly strong policies to fight global warming over time.

    In light of this, Metro needs to seriously consider switching over to battery electric buses or electric trolleybuses. Even if Measure M passes, most of Metro’s transit system will still be based on buses that are powered by natural gas, a fossil fuel which contributes to global warming. Foothill transit has an all-electric bus line (Line 291, Garey Avenue) and has plans to use 100% battery electric buses by 2030. That’s the future we need to be building, in conjunction with the rail system, yet I haven’t heard much of anything from Metro about planning for that transition. It would have huge environmental benefits and make buses less noisy.

  2. Electric buses are just another eco-luddite ‘feel good’ measure that does not address the real problem – we need serious investment to invent new grid connected, 24×7, and of course cleaner ‘base load’ energy sources. Solar and other alternative sources aren’t coming close to meeting our needs, and ever increasing electric rates will not encourage businesses to start and to stay in the state. And No, batteries aren’t the solution either despite what Elon Musk trumpets.

    The huge issue still not being attacked aggressively is increasing energy (and other resource) consumption. If our state is so progressive (in the old school, more centrist meaning) we must strongly discourage large families, wasteful 3000+ sq ft McMansions, etc that are driving this consumption curve upward. Beat up on your legislative critters, folks!

    And Plant More Trees – many more!

    • I disagree with your point about renewables. Solar and wind can meet 100% of our electricity needs as long as we deploy existing tech to store energy and smooth out intermittency. Picture warehouses filled with batteries or a compressed air energy storage system tied to the grid.

      The only alternatives to that are the unsustainable fossil-fueled status quo and nuclear, which poses severe proliferation and nuclear waste storage problems.