Next stop, Culver City: Some good news this week with Expo Line test trains running all the way to the end of phase 1 of the project in Culver City. No opening date to Culver City has yet been announced, but the start of testing is a good sign.
A couple thoughts:
•As readers pointed out, having a giant parking lot next to the Venice/Robertson station may not be the highest ideal when it comes to urban planning. But it’s a very short walk to both downtown Culver City and the Helms Bakery complex and I think it’s overall good for the project to have some parking near Expo stations for those who don’t live near the line. I’d rather have someone drive to transit than not take transit at all.
•The Helms complex is home to Father’s Office, which in my view remains home of the best burger in the Southland. They also have an outstanding beer menu. Good burgers + good beer + good transit = win.
In 2008, the political debate over Measure R largely concerned which transit and road projects would get funding. In 2012, the current proposal seeks to limit that debate. Will it? Stay tuned.
Heads up to extremely cool event: The eighth and final stage of the Amgen Tour of California bike race is Sunday, May 20. The 42.6-mile stage begins in downtown Beverly Hills, travels through Hollywood and ends with five laps of a five-mile circuit in downtown Los Angeles with the finish line at L.A. Live.
In addition, from 8 a.m. to 9:30 a.m. that morning, cyclists are free to ride the downtown L.A. part of the circuit. All abilities are welcome — more details here.
With many street closures for the race, it will be a good day to either ride your bike downtown or take Metro Rail there. Take your pick: the Expo Line, Gold Line, Blue Line, Red/Purple Line subway, Metrolink and Amtrak all serve downtown.
Revising Metro fares: For many moons now, some Source readers have been clamoring for Metro to revise its fares and charge riders based on the distance they travel. Some readers even suggest that by lowering fares for short trips, Metro will pick up many new riders who currently shun riding, resulting in greater revenues for the agency.
Sorry, but I don’t see it happening here in Los Angeles County or any other major metro area. As far as I know, there isn’t a major transit agency in the U.S. that in recent times — which is synonomous with hard economic times — that has dropped its base fare to lure more short haul riders.
Why not? Probably because it doesn’t pencil out very well: Metro would have to gain an awful lot of new riders to offset the loss of revenue that, with a 28 percent fare recovery ratio, it can’t afford to do.
That’s not to say that distance-based fares will never happen. As the rail system expands, it’s likely that Metro staff and the Board will look at the economics of the current system because in a few years it will be possible (under current operating plans) to ride a single train from Santa Monica to East L.A. or the same train from Long Beach to Azusa.
In the meantime, the best solution for Metro riders who make many frequent short trips is to purchase a monthly pass for $75. If you take 20 short single bus or train rides each week, that breaks down to less than a dollar per ride.