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!


Poll results: is transit attracting enough new riders?

Results of The Source's poll of transit riders.

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.

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Curb the car? The debate continues on European style transportation policy

The front page story from Monday’s N.Y. Times about Europe’s transportation policies that push the car to the perimeter is still sparking discussion.

Yesterday the Times invited nine experts to debate the issue: should the historically car crazy U.S. adopt a similar policy?

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.

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Readers think Europe has it right: make transit better even if it makes driving harder

NY Times Article Poll Results

Yesterday’s New York Times article on Europe’s efforts to shore up transportation alternatives at the expense of driving stirred up a lot of conversation around the net – including right here on The Source. Our informal poll asking readers whether the agree with European transportation policy racked up over 170 votes since it was posted.

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.

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Please tell us how long you have been riding transit!

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.

Readers approve of decision to allow bikes on Metro Rail during peak hours

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.

Would you give up your seat for a pregnant woman?

Click above to see a larger image.

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: