Transportation headlines, Tuesday, April 23

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.

Los Angeles mayoral candidates talk transportation at last night’s debate (NBC4)

Councilman Eric Garcetti and Controller Wendy Greuel were asked about public transportation and accelerating Measure R projects at last night’s debate at USC.

In this first video excerpt, the candidates were asked what they would do to increase use of public transportation while working with Metro (sorry about the commercials):

In this second excerpt, the candidates were asked if they would support sacrificing traffic lanes and street parking for dedicated bus lanes:

The questions were good but I’m not sure asking the candidates to squeeze what could be a much longer conversation about transit and transportation into just a couple of minutes is very fair to the audience.

Video interviews: the mayoral candidates (L.A. Times) 

The opinion section of the Times posts 30-minute interviews with both Garcetti and Greuel, including questions about pedestrian safety and transit. The interviews are also posted in segments so viewers can watch the parts that most interest them.

Letters: give the 110 toll lanes more time (L.A. Times) 

Readers opine on the recent story in the Times about the ExpressLanes project on the 110 freeway. Among the letters is one from a USC professor urging residents to give the ExpressLanes more time to change driver behavior (i.e. not use the 110 at its busiest times) and another reader urging Metro to adjust the tolls so that more motorists in the general lanes will want to use the ExpressLanes.

This date in history: April 22, 1964 (Primary Resources) 

It was 40 years ago that a plan was released explaining how the proposed Beverly Hills Freeway would be a tunnel while traveling under Beverly Hills with no exits or entrances, by the way. For those keeping score at home, the freeway lost. Check out the report in the post — fascinating read on the east-west freeway that never came to be.

13 replies

  1. I think in the end, it all comes down to choice. Metro’s ExpressLanes hopes are that people will switch from cars to public transit than deal with the traffic jams. Of course, that’s their business. Their business model is to convince more people to get onto public transit over the automobile.

    OTOH, like Cruisin’ on the 110 said, some people choose a different choice which was “not in the way Metro intended” by taking the motorcycle approach. For some, they may not have public transit options or even see them as a cost and time efficient way to get around town.

  2. Developing countries aren’t the only ones who use motorcycles as a cost efficient means of transportation. Developed countries in Europe and Asia also use them to get around town too. Ever been to Germany, France, Italy, Taiwan and Japan? That’s why they have companies like BMW, Peugeot, Piaggio, Vespa, Kymco, Honda, Suzuki, Yamaha making scooters and motorbikes – they do it because there’s demand within their countries as well as for export.

    There’s also a small but gaining trend going on in West LA with the youngsters moving away from cars to motorbikes and scooters as the hip, zippy, and urban way to get around. Motorcycle shops in West LA like Route 66 and Honda of Santa Monica saw record sales last year with their Buddys, Vespas, Hondas, Yamahas, Suzukis, and Kymco scooters and motorbikes. Some entrepreneurs have taken notice in this and motorcycle shops are starting to pop up in other parts of LA too.

    In a way, it makes sense. The traffic is bad in LA that they see that a car is more of a hassle to get around. The car is just too expensive to buy, too expensive to maintain, takes too much space on the roads and gas mileage isn’t all that great.

    The bus is just too inefficient and not really a good deal to get around within a small area like the Santa Monica-West LA-Culver City-Marina del Rey. Everything is nearby so there’s real need to travel far to live, work, and shop. Hence, there’s no big savings of paying $75 a month for public transit.

    Rather than spending two years’ worth of monthly passes that totals to $1,800, people, especially the young urban hipsters, see that they could just buy a decent 50-250 cc motorbike or scooter that gets excellent MPGs for under $2,000 which costs pennies to run per mile. For them, these are a cheaper, faster, and less space taking alternative to the car and public transit.

    I myself am considering getting one too. I’m tired of sitting in gridlock at the traffic lights when the hip urban kids are riding motorcycles and scooters just snakes between the cars and goes straight ahead of the pack. When the light turns green, they just zip away while I still stay stuck several cars behind. And they get around for pennies per mile while I pay quarters per mile in gas.

  3. Rather thankful that the political forces in Beverly Hills at the time managed to quash the freeway tunnel. But not for Beverly Hill’s sake. The tunnel would’ve been better than the daily quagmire that Santa Monica Blvd. has become. Rather, I’m thankful that the (non-tunneled) freeway connection (the Red route) didn’t happen. A Hollywood with a gash of a freeway running just north of Melrose is something I hate to even imagine!

    • Hi George;

      Agree. That was the weird thing about the plan. It was okay to cleave the city of L.A. by a new freeway, but not okay to do it to B.H. Hardly equitable.

      Steve Hymon
      Editor, The Source

  4. Developing countries are already well into motorcycles as a cost-efficient form of transportation. In Indonesia, for example, motorcycle sales outnumber car sales by about 10 to 1. Not Harley’s but low-powered motorcycles that sell for about USD1000. With no public transport subsidies, bus services have
    declined substantially in the last 20 years, and everyone has to have a motorcycle, even high school students. Those who have cars also have motorcycles, because they are much easier to park, and there are no minimum parking requirements to ensure businesses provide parking. Parking at home is simple – a corner of lounge room. Travel speeds are typically 20-30 mph.
    But they are more dangerous. My sister-in-law lost an unborn baby just after a motorcycle accident. These low-powered motorcycles are not an option for LA in mixed traffic with larger vehicles, but larger motorcycles certainly are.

    • Hi Malcolm;

      Excellent point. I like motorcycles and scooters. But think safety remains an issue — mostly because there are too much things outside the control of those who ride. If something goes wrong, it can go very, very wrong.

      Steve Hymon
      Editor, The Source

  5. And think of it this way: even though $230 sounds like big money to get your license, you’ll end up saving more money in the long run by saving tons of gas money because motorcycles get better gas mileage than your car. And when you trade in your car for a bike, you’ll end up with profit anyway like I did.

    It’s like pay more now to save a lot more money down the road in the future. If you’re going to waste $230 in filling up gas into your car, why not learn a skill that lasts you a LIFETIME and saves you gas money for years to come?

  6. Lorenzo,

    It’s really easy.

    You sign up for the State of CA approved motorcycle safety course on the webpage I linked. It’s done in cooperations with the California Highway Patrol and the Motorcycle Safety Foundation so you know it’s legit.

    The course cost about $200 for about two or three days weekend course, but they teach you everything from the basics, watch videos, learn common sense motorcycle safety skills, basic maneuvers and even your first ride. They provide you with helmets, gloves, and even a bike to ride in the course.

    It’s pretty much like learning how to drive a car for the first time at a driving school. Remember that? LOL

    When you pass that, you get a DMV certificate mailed to you that says you took the motorcycle safety course. That exempts you from the driving test at the DMV. Take that to the DMV, take the written test, pay $30 something dollars and you have your motorcycle license. Your new drivers license will say CM1 which means you can drive a car AND a motorcycle.

    Taking the first step is the hard part. But once you do, you wonder why you didn’t do it sooner.

  7. @Cruisin’ … awesome post. I’m glad riding works for you. Stay safe!
    That BH freeway study is mind blowing. It makes the current 710 underground freeway study seem trivial.

  8. Crusin’ on the 110 has a point. I’ve thought about switching to a motorbike because it’s just practical. It’s cheaper than a car all around and it would take some getting used to but if it can bypass traffic, I’d take it. I just want to know how to get all the training and stuff.

  9. Does anyone know what happened to the Yaroslavsky motion to get rid of the minimum usage requirement fees for the Express Lanes transponders?

    Zev filed it last December and nothing has been said about that since.

    The taxpayers demand answers.

  10. That is exactly what the express lanes should do; make you think, changes behaviors, and make it easier on yourself, which in turn makes it easier for everyone. Thank you for buying a bike (hog?), and being “one less car”.

  11. The 110 ExpressLanes did actually make me change behaviors, but probably not in the way Metro intended.

    What I did was ditching the car for a motorcycle. I took the motorcycle safety course by signing up here.

    Then I sold my car and bought a used Harley Davidson off of Craigslist.

    My car sold for $8,000, the Harley was bought for $6,000, so the $2,000 profit I made paid for all the motorcycle safety course, motorcycle endorsement, helmets and what not with plenty of cash still remaining.

    Now I save a lot on gas because the Harley gets as great gas mileage as a hybrid ($6,000 for a 40 MPG, make a Prius beat that price!) and I get to my destination a lot faster because I get to use the ExpressLanes for free with no stupid minimum usage requirements or even have to pay for the transponder either.

    On surface streets, I go straight to the front of the pack by driving between all the cars that are waiting at the traffic lights.

    Now I get from South Bay to Hollywood in 30 minutes in Friday afternoon at 5 PM. No car or public transit can beat that agility! Going motorcycle is the best decision I ever made.

    I think everyone should think outside of the box. If they’re tired of the traffic that’s worse on the 110, ditch the car, go with the motorcycle. No one needs a car to travel around LA. You get around faster and cheaper with the motorcycle. And the weather is always nice in LA that almost everyday is great motorcycle riding day!