Transportation headlines, special edition: LA Streetsblog’s post “You can’t fix traffic, you are the traffic” is a must read

Traffic on the 405. Photo by malingering, via Flickr creative commons.

Traffic on the 405. Photo by malingering, via Flickr creative commons.

If you have three minutes to spare, I highly recommend Damien Newton's post in response to an opinion piece in the Los Angeles Times griping about Westside traffic.

In the Times, editorial writer Carla Hall complained that Los Angeles City Council candidates for the Westside seat (11th district) didn't say much about fixing traffic at a recent Streetsblog forum. She's a longtime Brentwood resident and motorist and doesn't think transit and cycling improvements will help improve her commute to downtown Los Angeles.

I thought the article was intended to be more provocative than informative — it's hard to blame Westside motorists for venting/blowing their stack. Damien apparently thought likewise.

I think the issue that we both had was the notion that traffic can be fixed solely by focusing on traffic. Unfortunately, there's not a lot of evidence from around the world that traffic gets “fixed” — chokepoints can be smoothed, roads can be managed differently (i.e. the ExpressLanes) but it's pretty hard to make traffic go poof and vanish without without wrecking the economy or making it literally illegal or too expensive to drive.

Take it away, Damien:

But to your specific problem, living in Brentwood and commuting via car Downtown there are really only three solutions: move, get a new job, or get over it. That commute is a result of decisions you made and are making. Thanks to a wife that makes quite a bit more than I do, we could live in Brentwood if we wanted to, but we live in Mar Vista. Why? Because the Expo Line and Bike Path are coming. Brentwood may have a legendary private school system and some of the nicest real estate in L.A., but Mar Vista will have much better bike and transit options.It’s all part of the decisions we make. It’s the governments job to make it possible for you to live where you want and can afford and work where you want and can get a job. It’s not their job to make it as easy and smooth as possible. Your commute is part of the price you pay to live in Brentwood and work Downtown.And if you think there are too many cars on the street, remember that you are in one of them. You’re part of the problem, not part of the solution.

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Reader poll results: Expo Line opening was the big story of 2012!

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The results. Ignore the ‘country’ column — it’s the same as the overall results.

Thanks to everyone who took our poll on the biggest transportation stories in 2012. As the above chart demonstrates, the verdict was pretty clear: the opening of the first phase of the Expo Line was the big to-do in the minds of many readers.

My take on a few of the year’s big storylines:

•Perhaps the biggest overall story of 2012 was the unceasing expansion of transit in Los Angeles County. The first phase of the Expo Line opened, the Orange Line Extension opened, the new El Monte Station opened, the Crenshaw/LAX Line went out to bid, the pace of construction quickened on both the second phase of the Expo Line and the Gold Line Foothill Extension and the environmental studies were completed for the Regional Connector and Westside Subway Extension — with early utility work now underway for both.

Four years after the passage of Measure R, it’s pretty clear that L.A. County is serious about transforming itself and building a transit network to compliment its sprawling road network. It has been a long time coming — and it’s great to see.

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What was the biggest transportation story of 2012? Take our poll!


By any measure, 2012 was a busy year transportation-wise. Go ahead and pick three of the above — I’m curious what you see as the big story of the year.

And, of course, feel free to comment — particularly if you choose “other” and think some of the above choices are total bunk!

Legislative update: high-speed rail

 From Metro’s government relations staff this afternoon: 

California’s State Auditor, Elaine Howle, released a follow-up report today on her office’s findings on the California High Speed Rail Project. The report asserts that the project’s financing is “increasingly risky,” its ridership numbers are questionable and its contractor oversight is inadequate. Please click here to view a complete copy of this report.

Reminder: take our poll on Metro service over the holidays!


So far voting hasn’t exactly exploded — although we have more voters than those who voted for Herman Cain in the Iowa caucus!

Please take the time to vote and leave a comment if you would like. It’s a good way to provide feedback to the agency about the all-night rail and Orange Line service that Metro ran over the New Year’s weekend — as well as other Metro service over the holidays.

How was Metro's service over the holidays? Take our poll!

The Gold Line saw heavy crowds, as usual, for the Rose Parade and the Rose Bowl game. Photo by Fernando Andres Di Zitti/Metro


Over the past two weeks, Metro provided free service on its buses and trains on Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve. In addition, the agency also ran all night Metro Rail and Orange Line service on both New Year’s Eve and Sunday night and bulked up rail service for the Tournament of Roses parade and the Rose Bowl game.

So, what did you think? Did Metro help you get around better? Were our buses and trains a useful alternative to driving?

Please take the above poll and leave a comment if you have any specific compliments or criticisms. I’m sure we’ll also see some tweets to this effect later today in our weekly Twitter Tuesday post.

Here’s a short video showing the post-parade and pre-game crowds at the Gold Line’s Memorial Park station in Old Town Pasadena.

Some gentle suggestions for Metro and a poll: how do you feel about those rail and bus seats?

Good post on Brigham Yen’s blog today about a visitor from San Francisco getting his first taste of the Metro system.

Metro's sharp-looking seats -- in my view! Photo by Brigham Yen.

The visitor has mostly positive things to say, but was puzzled by the unlocked turnstiles (join the crowd!) and had mild complaints about lighting in the subway cars and the material used on subway seats.

Brigham echoes a few of those points. My one counterpoint: I like the materials used on seats on Metro’s buses and trains, which I think adds a nice splash of  color and makes the buses and trains more welcoming.

Brigham, of course, includes a photo of a big ol’ splotch of nasty used gum on one of the seats. Good eye! :)

Your thoughts? Take the poll!