Transportation headlines, Tuesday, March 11

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Good afternoon, Source readers! I’m back from a few days off and in catch-up mode, so please forgive if some of this news isn’t so new….

Mass transit ridership grows from pathetically low to just low (Grist) 

Analyst Ben Adler takes a look at the latest APTA numbers that boast that Americans took 10.7 billion transit trips in 2013, the most since 1956. Ben’s point:

But the [New York] Times neglects to point out the larger relative term: Compared to 60 years ago (when mass transit systems were actually less comfortable; the New York City subway wasn’t even air-conditioned), transit ridership is way down. The important number, after all, isn’t total transit trips taken, it’s total transit trips divided by population. Since our population has nearly doubled since 1956, that means our transit use has been cut in half.

Americans made a series of disastrous decisions in the 1950s through roughly 2005, moving us heavily toward suburban sprawl and driving. And we kept on making them even in the face of gathering evidence that they were contributing to the environmental catastrophe of climate change. A shift back toward a better system is worth celebrating, but keep the champagne corked until we’ve actually increased the percentage of Americans taking mass transit, not just improved slightly from a terrible low point.


I agree with Ben — it’s good to see ridership on the rise in many places and I think it’s smart to build more transit. But I don’t think the latest numbers show anything has fundamentally changed in how Americans get around. In case you’re wondering, the latest numbers from the Census Bureau shows that 7.1 percent of commuters in Los Angeles County use public transit. About 72.2 percent drove alone and 10.9 percent carpooled while 2.9 percent walked and 2.1 percent reached work by other means. Almost five percent of people worked at home.

I think the big question for everyone in the public transit world and for elected officials is this: what does it take to keep nudging that 7.1 percent number upward?

Blind man survives being run over by a Metro train (L.A. Times)

A blind man apparently walked off the edge of the platform at the Wilshire/Vermont subway station as a train was approaching on Thursday afternoon — and survived and is thankfully expected to make a full recovery. As way of background, the yellow pylons on Metro Rail platforms were installed as a way to prevent visually-challenged people from walking off platforms and falling between rail cars (which unfortunately happened on the Blue Line in early 2009).

Dodgers to increase parking fees (KPCC)

The fee is back to the Frank McCourt-era $15 unless fans go online and buy a parking ticket in advance for $10. Team officials say the move is intended to alleviate traffic congestion at the gates, where money transactions take longer than simply handing a ticket to the attendant. Sounds reasonable enough to me. On a related note, we’ll have more info soon about Dodger Stadium Express service for the 2014 season, which will surely be the year for my Cincinnati Reds 🙂

As downtown L.A. grows, big money investors rush in (Downtown News) 

DTLA seems to be attracting a wider variety of developers these days — beyond the usual flow of money from Asia, the Downtown News reports. The article also has this interesting observation: it’s seemingly easier for developers from elsewhere to see the potential of DTLA over long-time residents and developers, who can’t look beyond the ghost town years of the 1980s and ’90s. I’m sure part of it, too, is that developers from elsewhere must be struck by the number of old buildings waiting to be rehabbed or the number of half-filled surface parking lots just sitting there and doing little good for anyone but their owners.

The race is on for the transit ticket of tomorrow (The Atlantic Cities) 

Smart story looking at the dilemma faced by many large transit agencies when it comes to choosing a fare payment system that is accessible to all riders but uses the latest technology (such as paying with smart phones). The answer isn’t so simple but linking fare cars to smart phones seems to the answer for some agencies.


7 replies

  1. One part I don’t like about Dodgers Stadium is that cars and motorcycles pay the exact same price for parking.

    This is a stupid policy. Motorcycles take up less space per parking parking space. You can probably fit four motorcycles into one spot.

    By riding a motorcycle, we’re actually helping reducing congestion at Dodgers Stadium because it takes up less space. We should be rewarded for taking alternative vehicles like motorcycles to Dodgers Stadium. Besides, do you guys really want one motorcycle hogging up a car space?

    Dodgers Stadium should dedicate a motorcycle parking area where fees are cheaper for guys on two wheelers.

  2. want to increase transit ridership in LA area? ban all new urban sprawl in LA, and orange, and riverside and San bernadino counties. halt all freeway construction and do not raise fares will increasing service. the fest will happen on its own. no more outward growth will cause increased density that makes it so a car isn’t the more convninet choice. no increase in fares means price to drive will only increase compared with transit. and lastly the most obvious increase service in frequency, quality , and range. all this will cost money, but banning outward growth is free and will result in a much more dynamic city.

  3. “4. Lower fares or make riding free.”

    Pound this into your head: NOTHING RUNS FOR FREE.

    Bus drivers and rail operators have to be paid. Buses require maintenance as much as cars, oil changes, gas fill ups, tire changes, routine maintenance, etc. etc.

    There are cost of operations to everything. As much as far-left this State has become, the United States of America was built on capitalism and a profit driven mindset.

    You want more people to take transit? Make Metro earn profits! Privatize, let it run on the free market, stop being this tax sucking bureaucracy and let it become a corporation. It’s no surprise that the best transit systems in the world are all PRIVATIZED CORPORATIONS.

  4. How do you get more people to ride public transit? It’s not rocket science, it’s just expensive:
    1. Run rail lines and buses more frequently. Trains very six minutes during rush hour and, more importantly, off-peak rail schedules 20 minutes apart don’t encourage people to ride. More frequent buses would also help bicycle riders have more capacity.
    2. Speed up construction projects dramatically. Projects that take 10-20 years to complete don’t encourage people to ride.
    3. Close the gaps in rail lines; e.g., Red Line to Bob Hope Airport, Green Line to the Amtrak/Metrolink lines in Downey, Crenshaw Line to the Purple Line; Purple Line to Santa Monica.
    4. Lower fares or make riding free.
    5. Unless rides are going to be free, make the TAP system equate to the best card systems in the world, e.g., Oyster Card.
    6. Give rail cars priority over automobiles on all lines, even in downtown.
    7. Make upgrading tracks and signals a priority on Metrolink lines; runs trains every 20 minutes in rush hours and 40 minutes outside of rush hours.
    8. Build a high-speed rail line from the San Fernando Valley through the Westside and down to LAX.
    Those are a start.

  5. The Dodgers should leave the ravine and leave the then “White Elephant” for McCourt to deal with. Perhaps the families that were forcably evicted from the ravine over 50 years ago can get their land back at least minuse the family homes that were distroyed.

  6. The yellow pylons and the tactile strips may not be enough to prevent anyone (blind or not) from falling into the tracks. There are more people who and texting and falling into the tracks than blind people. The better solution should be installing platform barriers and doors to solve this problem.

  7. Not sure the complete dynamics of this, but as I understand it, McCourt still owns the parking lot real estate……