Transportation headlines, Monday, June 23

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Los Angeles man dies week after assault at Metro Blue Line station (L.A. Times)

A 65-year-old man who was assaulted by two women at the Willowbrook-Rosa Brooks station at 1:20 p.m. on June 13 passed away from his injuries this past Friday. No other information was released to the media. Any witnesses or anyone else with information regarding the crime should please call the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department’s Homicide Bureau at (323) 890-5500.

Next Senate leader Kevin de Leon wants Brown to rethink bullet train (L.A. Times) 

Incoming majority leader of the California Senate is critical of starting the state’s high-speed rail line in the Central Valley, saying it would make more sense to invest in transportation projects nearer Los Angeles and San Francisco. In particular, he says upgrading Los Angeles Union Station with run-through tracks would provide more bang for the buck in terms of cleaning up emissions.

Semi-related: Roger Rudick criticizes the LAT’s coverage of high-speed rail in an article posted last week at Streetsblog.

Why don’t white people take the bus in L.A.? (LA Weekly) 

The Weekly dives into Census Bureau stats and determines that only 11 percent of transit riders in Los Angeles are white, despite the fact that 32 percent of all commuters are white (Metro’s most recent customer survey found that nine percent of its bus riders are white and 18 percent of its rail riders are white). By comparison, the Weekly reports, the number of white commuters and transit riders is more closely aligned in cities such as San Francisco and New York.

So what’s going on? Transportation planner Jarrett Walker offers, I think, the best explanation, saying that whites in Los Angeles tend to live in low-density areas where there isn’t much in the way of transit service. Others suggest that buses stuck in traffic will always have a hard time competing with personal cars that despite traffic offer door-to-door service.

The LAT’s transportation reporter Laura Nelson also makes a couple of pertinent points:

And from one rider:

Big Blue Bus: 7000 words, 135 miles, 18 buses, four dollars, one day (Breitbart News) 

Joel Pollak managed to ride all 18 Big Blue Bus lines in a single (albeit long) day and wrote this post — appropriately — while riding the streets of Santa Monica and the surrounding area. Excerpt:

Another reason I attempted the challenge was simply to show my friends and neighbors what public transportation in our car-obsessed, traffic-plagued city is really like.

My friend, mentor, and former boss, the late Andrew Breitbart, found it bizarre—and perhaps a bit suspicious—that I showed up to work every day by bus.

It wasn’t just that our conservative news website was highly skeptical of government-run industry, “green” transportation subsidies, and utopian planning. It was also that Andrew had grown up in L.A. and, like many others, had come to know the city from behind a steering wheel. I don’t think he had ever been on a bus in his life.

Yet California is a state whose immense entrepreneurial energies were unleashed, in part, by wise investments in public infrastructure: dams and aqueducts especially, but also rail, roads, and public conveyances, like the ubiquitous cable car of San Francisco.

Our Big Blue Bus has certainly made life easier for me in the three years I’ve been living here, and there are days when I’ve navigated my entire day’s tasks on a few buses.

Nice piece, Joel! There are also a slew of good photographs.



5 replies

  1. Why don’t white people take the bus in L.A.?

    Try buying groceries just using public transit.

  2. Another way to look at it is looking at the percentage numbers of Asians taking transit. Using Metro’s own figures, it’s even lower than whites.

    Yet, Asians ride mass transit almost exclusively back home in their own home nations of Japan, Korea, Taiwan, China, Hong Kong, Singapore, Thailand, etc. etc.

    That should give you a hint on why Asians refrain from using mass transit while living in LA, but have no qualms using them as the locals do when they’re visiting their home country.

  3. As to ethnicity of transit passengers, well,

    1) As one who lives and works entirely in Orange County, I don’t commute into Los Angeles, but I ride Metro, especially MetroRail, whenever it’s even a vaguely practical choice for getting me to L.A. County destinations. And a few weeks ago, during my spring “staycation,” I was much happier on the days when I could leave my car at the Wardlow Blue Line station, then when I had to actually drive all the way.

    2) I agree with the late George Carlin about “white” being a bland, colorless way to describe an ethnicity; if you must address me by my ethnicity (something I never encourage), I prefer to be called a “honkie” or a “blue-eyed devil.”

    3) When visiting Boston, I ride the T. When in Chicago, I ride the L. When in New York City and Philadelphia, I ride the subways. When visiting Colonial Williamsburg, I take the little gray buses run by the CWF, and when I’m in Walt Disney World, I know my way around the network of buses, monorails, and boats, and almost never need to bother with a cab. When in San Francisco, I know my way around the MUNI better than some of the locals do. When in Washington, DC, I quietly grouse to myself about the absurdity of not having the buses and the urban rail on a common system of fares and day-passes. There has only been one occasion, in the almost quarter-century since the Blue Line opened for revenue service, that I felt my life to be in the slightest danger; conversely, I take my life in my hands almost every day on the freeways.

    4) I have become convinced that a certain very vocal group of transit riders (which shall remain nameless, but I’m sure everybody here can make a good guess) are trying not only to keep transit fares low enough that even the poorest of the poor can afford them, but also to keep transit in Los Angeles County so noisy, smelly, dirty, ill-maintained, and generally unpleasant that nobody BUT the poor would WANT to ride it.

  4. Regarding the article about bus ridership, I think they’re spot-on with two suggestions: more bus-only lanes, and improved frequency.

    Having ridden quite a few of the Metro Local and Rapid lines around LA and the Valley, it’s pretty clear to me that what Metro needs within the LA Basin is more bus lanes. LADOT already has rush-hour “anti-gridlock” zones where a lane of parking becomes a traffic lane. Instead of dedicating those lanes to more traffic, which also causes chaos for cyclists (myself included) as we get pushed into the gutters, we should push for LADOT to convert most of the anti-gridlock lanes into rush-hour bus lanes (with bicycles permitted).

    One street that could particularly benefit: La Brea from West Hollywood to Mid-City.

    Street traffic in the Valley isn’t generally bad enough to necessitate bus lanes (except perhaps along Van Nuys) but suffers from frequency issues, which as mentioned also tie into the issue of low-density areas. However, even in the (moderately) higher density areas of the Valley, long-haul buses like the 90/92 through Glendale go from 15-minute headways at peaks to over 1 hour headways in the late evenings. Waiting for an hour at night at a bus stop in a less reputable area because you missed your connection by a few minutes is quite a discouragement for potential riders.