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!
A few weeks back I noticed an interesting chart on the America Public Transportation Association [APTA] website on how long people had been riding transit. The chart was compiled using data provided by local agencies across the U.S.
In particular, I was struck by their numbers showing that a lot of people — about 30 percent of people surveyed nationally — had been riding transit continuously for one year or less. That suggests that for whatever reason(s), people are willing to try transit.
I posted a similar poll on The Source. As of Thursday, there were 364 responses and the results are above. That’s not exactly overwhelming and certainly not scientific.
With those caveats, it’s still intriguing to compare our numbers to the numbers from APTA. In our poll, about 15 percent of those who responded said they had been riding transit continuously for a year or less and 70 percent had been riding continuously for two years or more.
It’s obvious from the commentaries that one reason this story has legs is that it’s a divisive topic that is tangled up with all sorts of other contentious issues. Gentrification, taxation, central planning vs. market forces and generational differences are all mixed up making a cocktail that you either love or hate.
Good points are brought up on both sides of the issue. Urban planning professor Robert Bruegmann notes that while Europe’s dense central cities may be implementing anti-car policies, more Europeans are actually moving to the suburbs and living in American style sprawl.
One of the most interesting takes on the issue comes from Laurie Volk and Todd Zimmerman – two researchers who look at housing market trends and demographics. They think that while most Americans currently flinch at the thought of curbing the car, a cultural change is coming with the Millennial generation.
Millennials, now the largest generation in the nation’s history, are the first generation raised in the auto utopia of the ’70s and ’80s. Many millennials have vowed to spare their offspring a similar auto-oriented childhood. We predict that millennials in much larger percentages than predecessor generations will remain in urban neighborhoods when they become parents, fighting for school excellence and robust transportation alternatives to the private automobile.
The overall feedback from readers? The majority (72%) agree that it’s worth inconveniencing the private car to encourage more alternatives.
A smaller percentage (26%) think that we should invest in more transportation alternatives – but not at the expense of cars. Of course, that begs the question: is it possible to make alternatives attractive when policy makes driving super convenient?
Only 2% feel that the U.S. way is the automobile, and it’s best to leave it that way.
Of course, our readership is biased – according to our Reader Survey, over 70% of our readers are regular transit riders. Opinions may vary on L.A. hot rod enthusiast blogs.
The poll is still open, so please feel free to add your two cents. And after the jump, a few highlighted comments from readers.
Please indulge me and participate in our most recent poll. I’d like to see more numbers because this is an issue that interests me: it says something about transit’s ability to attract new riders these days.
Thus far, the numbers collected in our poll are strikingly different than national numbers from the American Public Transit Assn.
I’ll keep the above poll open for voting, but the results thus far (posted below) seem pretty clear: readers approve of the Metro Board’s decision last week to immediately lift the ban on bikes on Metro Rail during peak hours.
Elizabeth Carey Smith recently gave birth and during the last four months of her pregnancy, she carefully tracked how often other passengers on the New York City subway volunteered to surrender their seat so that she could sit down.
A graphic designer by trade, Smith made the above poster to graphically show how often her fellow passengers showed a measure of graciousness. The good news: in 88 out of 108 subway rides, someone did offer to give up their seat — and men did it in equal numbers to women.
Here’s a good post about Smith’s project at the Wall Street Journal’s Metropolis blog, including an interview with Smith. And here’s Smith’s website with a digital copy of the poster available for download.
As for Metro, I just searched metro.net for the word “pregnant” and didn’t find anything about policies governing pregnant riders — although of course there are notices on buses and trains asking riders to volunteer their seats to elderly and disabled patrons. So let’s poll this one:
Commenter B. Kuo brought up an idea – something that some at Metro have been kicking around for a while – suggesting that Metro should have multiple service alert Twitter accounts so that riders can choose to follow only the lines that matter to them. It’s a good idea, especially if you’ve hooked your phone up to Twitter – you probably don’t care to be text messaged regarding a line you don’t ride.
A few transit agencies do this very thing – locally there’s Metrolink which has unique Twitter accounts for each of its seven commuter lines. On a larger scale there’s the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA). They have Twitter accounts for each rail line (eight in total) and one catch-all account for CTA buses. Metro would probably do something similar to this. Continue reading →
In our recent (unscientific) poll of Source readers, 83% report having some sort of smartphone. Android devices are the most popular, just beating out the iPhone. At the same time, over 10% of readers report having no mobile web access at all.
Of course, this poll only represents the Source readership, who are likely some of the more tech savvy of Metro customers. Still, it implies that smartphone apps are probably worth investing in and that Metro would be smart to study cross platform apps.