Transportation headlines, Wednesday, Nov. 21

Here is a look at some of the transportation headlines gathered by us and the Metro Library. The full list of headlines is posted on the Library’s Headlines blog, which you can also access via email subscription or RSS feed.

Can we please stop pretending cars are greener than transit? (Atlantic Cities)

This is in response to the recent Freakanomics post that concluded transit isn't alway greener than cars when it comes to greenhouse gas emissions. That, of course, is true — the key word being 'always.' However, Atlantic Cities looks at the math and finds that buses and trains are often greener than cars with a solo occupant. And they throw in another good point: good transit often encourages smart land-use decisions that in turn promote more walking, cycling, transit and less solo driving. So there!

More local agencies dealing with TAP, but Metrolink remains elusive (L.A. Streetsblog)

Dana Gabbard has the latest on the ongoing saga — I can't think of a better word to describe it — involving how best to get Metrolink customers through locked turnstiles at Metro Rail stations. The gates won't be locked for at least several more months as work continues on the issue. The main challenge is finding a form of TAP ticket that can be dispensed by the type of ticket machine used by Metrolink — which, you guessed correctly, is different than the type of ticket machine used by Metro.

Gondolas may be the next great urban transit device (Wired)

Actually, they won't be due to their limited capacity, somethign any skier would know. This post notes that gondolas tend to be much cheaper than light rail on a per mile basis. Well, duh. A light rail line can carry several hundred people per train and do it every few minutes and do it while running 50 mph — something gondolas definitely can't do. There are some places around the globe where gondolas can definitely help — when there are rivers or hills involved, for example — but I don't think they're going to replace buses or trains anytime ever.



8 replies

  1. Brian I., if you took a close look at the composition of Metro’s Board you’d realize why a though process that “There has to be a point where Metro has to step its foot down …” isn’t rooted in reality.

  2. Brian,

    Actually, majority of transit agencies around the world are run by only one or few agencies or a private corporations.

    Take for instance JR. It’s a private company where it operates all the rail nationwide in Japan. It runs everything from running international high-speed ferries between the Port of Busan of South Korea and the Port of Fukuoka of Japan, they operate multiple high-speed rail Shinkansen lines criss-crossing the entire nation, they run commuter and suburban trains, and they aslo run intracity rail and bus services. One company does it all, therefore it can manage to implement a single standard and apply that across the board.

    In sharp contrast, look at LA. You have Amtrak, a federal agency running services between LA and San Diego on the Pacific Surfliner. Metrolink is a regional service run by a board of several So Cal counties. Metro primarily runs services within LA County, OCTA runs services within Orange County (though there are some overlaps into neighboring counties like Disneyland). Then you have smaller municipal lines like the Santa Monica Big Blue Bus, Culver City Bus, and Torrance Transit all run by their respective cities.

    A better way to say is this:
    Japan sees mass transit as a network model. There’s no differentiation between regional or intracity services. They see that a JR line that links the suburbs to Downtown can be used the same as a intracity service. They look at the big picture.

    In contrast, LA has its focus on differentiating regional and intracity services as separate entity. You’re only supposed to use Metrolink for one purpose: to go from Orange County to Union Station and nothing else. Nevermind that it has stations within LA County like Burbank or Chatsworth. If you want to get to Chatsworth to Downtown LA, they instead expect you to take the Orange Line and transfer to the Red Line. There’s nothing stopping you to take Metrolink from Chatsworth to Downtown LA of course, but they discourage you in doing so by charging ridiculously high fares for that.

    Being said that, implemeting a standard like Suica is relatively easy in Japan. One private company controls all. It sets a fair price per kilometer on a distance based model for everything. In contrast, implementing a standard like that in LA will take years, if not decades to get anything done because of so many players and agencies in the regional area who instead of seeing themselves as a network, sees themselves as a sole entity serving its own dedicated purpose.

  3. Dana,

    Regionality with surrounding counties is one thing, but looking at the best interest of the original county is a higher priority.

    There has to be a point to say enough is enough. We cannot wait forever to figure out this TAP implementation disaster just because of transfer agreements with other county and municipal lines.

    It’s like Agency A has agreements with Agency B, Agency B has another agreement with Agency C and since Agency C isn’t using TAP, we’re stuck with a poorly implemented TAP solution for Agency A.

    This is getting ridiculous. There has to be a point where Metro has to step its foot down and say “we’re going full TAP starting tomorrow, and that’s FINAL. Everybody else that’s not on TAP but has agreements, that’s your problem to solve on your own.”

  4. I’d like to know how did transit agencies around the world settle down their differences into one payment method? Surely we’re not the only one with multiple transit agencies within a region using different fare structures, payment technologies, transfers and passes, right?

  5. Does the first article take into account that Metro uses CNG busses. I’m assuming that the per passanger emissions will be lower.

  6. D. Christensen, Metrolink is a regional service and has transfer agreements with a multitude of providers — and those outside L.A. County lack TAP compatable fareboxes (as, at least at this time, do three prominent agencies in L.A. County — Long Beach Transit, Torrance Transit and Santa Monica’s Big Blue Bus)

    As I note in my commentary, Metrolink will be spending over a million to convert some of its ticket machines to be able to dispense TAP enabled limited use tickets. Given that kind of expense is it any wonder hoping OCTA et al will install TAP enabled fareboxes isn’t in the cards and as Steve Hymon reported in a post I pointed to the Metro Board (at least based on a recent Committee meeting) isn’t enthused at the idea of ending free transfers being included with Metrolink fare media.

    BTW, just after Proposition A went into effect ij the early 1980s one of the Board members of the Los Angeles County Transportation Commission (one of the agencies along with RTD that was merged to form Metro in 1993) tried to seek funding for a gondola system. Counsel ruled the ordinance mentioned rail and thus things hanging from a wire were ineligible.

  7. Robert Byrd should have gotten gondolas for West Virginia. There are systems where the load/unload of the gondola is done without stoping the cable.

  8. I’m probably going to repeat something that has been said by others over and over gain but, is it really that hard for Metrolink to just adopt TAP?

    Seriously, things like these take too long and too slow to be done. What has Metrolink been doing for the past years? Didn’t they foresee this would happen? Sheesh!