Transportation headlines, Monday, September 15

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MTA bus and train fares to rise on Monday (L.A. Times)

Transportation reporter Laura Nelson does a good job of breaking down the new fare structure that went into effect earlier today — with the regular fares rising to $1.75 (with two hours of free transfers) and weekly passes now $25 and monthly passes now $100. Please click here for charts showing the new fares as well as a useful Frequently Asked Questions on the fares.

The article also offers useful context about the finances and politics that drove the fare hike. Two key graphs:

Metro staff members estimate that ridership will drop by 3% to 4% during the first six months of the increase, but that fare revenue will grow by $21 million this fiscal year and $28 million in subsequent years.

That will not be enough to correct the agency’s long-term financial problems. Metro analysts have pushed for a series of three fare increases over eight years, saying more income is needed to offset an expected cumulative deficit of $225 million over the next decade. Agency directors approved the fare hike that begins Monday but postponed two subsequent increases proposed for 2017 and 2020, saying they needed more information about the agency’s financial outlook.

The Metro Board earlier this year asked staff to report back on other sources of revenue — so that’s something to keep an eye on. The other question looming over the issue of fares is a possible ballot measure in 2016 and what it may or may not include (no decision has yet been made on the ballot measure or its contents). Measure R did include a temporary fare freeze.

As for the basics on the fare increase, the $1.50 regular fare went up to $1.75 today but now includes two hours of free transfers.

Poll: 68 percent want more transit spending (The Hill)

Speaking of transportation funding, the Mineta Transportation Institute’s poll for the American Public Transportation Assn. shows slightly more Americans want more spent on public transit. Putting aside the not-so-small issue that both groups benefit from more dollars spent on transit, I’m guessing there is significant support in most metropolitan areas in the U.S. for transit. In Los Angeles County, 68 percent is a key number as 66.6 percent of voters are needed to approve transportation ballot measures. Measure R in 2008 was approved with 67.9 percent of the vote and Measure J in 2012 failed with 66.1 percent approval.

LAWA’s Gina Marie Lindsey: investments in LAX continue (The Planning Report) 

The general manager of Los Angeles World Airports — a city of Los Angeles agency — talks about the challenges and difficulties of installing remote baggage check-in at LAX and the automated people mover that will take passengers from the Crenshaw/LAX Line to the airport terminals. While the people mover’s route is pretty much settled outside the terminal horseshoe, Lindsey says the important matter of deciding its route and station locations should be decided within the next few months. Earlier this year, LAX was looking at configurations that included two stations or four stations.

Perris Valley Line taking shape (Press-Enterprise)

Nice to see some progress on the 24-mile extension of the Metrolink line from Riverside into the Perris Valley. Officials say the line is forecast to open near the end of 2015. It’s the first major Metrolink expansion in more than a decade, reports the Press-Enterprise.

Meet Seleta Reynolds, the safe streets advocate running LADOT (Streetsblog LA)

Damien Newton interviews the new general manager of the Los Angeles Department of Transportation, which manages traffic signals and the city’s DASH and Commuter Express buses, among other things. A lot of the conversation focuses on bike policy and Reynolds is mindful to (correctly) remind everyone that the City Council has pretty much the final say in everything.

Guest editorial: urban change in L.A., too little too slow (Streetsblog LA)

Thoughtful article by architect and urban designer Gerhard Mayer. His main point: while L.A. is certainly changing, it’s changing a lot more slowly than other cities and far too much of the city is devoted to roads and/or parking lots. The key paragraph:

L.A.’s land use imbalance is acute. In a “normal” city, only approx. one-fifth of the city’s land is dedicated to transportation. Four-fifths of that city is used for buildings that generate revenue – or for open space. Not in LA; here, as much as 60 percent of our land – three-fifths – is used to accommodate our automobiles. Only two-fifths of LA has buildings that generates revenue to maintain, renew and expand our public services.

Of course, it’s hard to come up with averages like that on such a sprawling city but the statistics sound about right for some parts of the city. I just drove to Oregon and back and L.A. is hardly alone. Driving through Klamath Falls I was struck with a downtown that appeared to be on life support while outside of town, the usual shopping malls with the usual big box stores were surrounded by vast parking lots and a lot of traffic.

Coming to the rescue of riders who drop treasures on the tracks (New York Times) 

Interesting article about the transit workers in the New York subway who use a variety of tools to scoop up belongings that riders have dropped on tracks below the platforms. This includes a bag of blood, a variety of artificial limbs, engagement rings and stuffed animals. Of course, we implore all riders to NEVER try to retrieve such items themselves on our transit system or any other. If you drop something valuable, please contact our Customer Relations department.

Regulator slow to respond to deadly vehicle defects (New York Times) 

A long and deeply reported article that is extremely critical of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The nut graphs:

An investigation by The New York Times into the agency’s handling of major safety defects over the past decade found that it frequently has been slow to identify problems, tentative to act and reluctant to employ its full legal powers against companies.

The Times analyzed agency correspondence, regulatory documents and public databases and interviewed congressional and executive branch investigators, former agency employees and auto safety experts. It found that in many of the major vehicle safety issues of recent years — including unintended acceleration in Toyotas, fires in Jeep fuel tanks and air bag ruptures in Hondas, as well as the G.M. ignition defect — the agency did not take a leading role until well after the problems had reached a crisis level, safety advocates had sounded alarms and motorists were injured or died.

Not only does the agency spend about as much money rating new cars — a favorite marketing tool for automakers — as it does investigating potentially deadly manufacturing defects, but it also has been so deferential to automakers that it made a key question it poses about fatal accidents optional — a policy it is only now changing after inquiries from The Times.


The article includes many anecdotes and examples. Perhaps the hardest thing to stomach: the agency declines to directly answer many of the Times’ questions, none of which seem unreasonable to ask.

7 replies

  1. Dude, how hard is it to figure out a tap card for anyone, even a tourist who doesn’t speak English. Money…on the card… pay the fair…ok.. i get it. Oh day pass, what is that, oh its a card that last a day, what about a monthly whats that? Wait i can load money on to it, what does that mean, does that mean i can load money onto it? A System shouldn’t have to accommodate the .01 percent of the population who can’t understand the concept of a tap card. “Oh put what if you lose it”, keep good records if your a person who tends to lose it. ” Oh but i always have to remember my tap card”, do people who have cars say ” oh but i have to remember my keys” just remember your tap card, put it in your wallet or attach it to you cell phone which i’m sure you won’t forge. Tap cards are a great system, easy, and an environmentally conscious. They’re the future, especially when you want to integrate systems… Metro and Big Blue Bus cough cough for one. Go Tap, Go Metro, Go Los Angeles

    • Also, to your point, a tap card is 1 dollar. Its a dollar. 1 dollar. even if your tourist who would only use it for 1 day, who are the only people who could complain, its 1 dollar. How much? 1 dollar.

      • And in other countries, you get that $1 back when you return the card. It’s not $1 for the card, it’s a $1 deposit that you get back when you return the card. It helps promote recycling back into use.

        That’s how the rest of the world works when they buy contactless cards for transit.

    • The problem is the lack of availability to load up cash for these TAP cards. A vast majority of Angelenos do not live anywhere near Metro rail stations where they have the ability to load up cash value to these cards.

      And the website is so clunky no one knows how to load money from there as well. And even if you manage to figure out how to do it, the funds aren’t instantaneously available, it takes about 24 to 48 hours for your TAP card to be loaded with funds.

      When my smartphone can do so much more, the TAP card system that LA has today is so antiquated it’s not even funny.

  2. Hmm. Boston’s “T” has both CharlieCards (similar to TAP and the Bay Area’s Clipper) and CharlieTickets (magnetically striped). And there’s a surcharge for fares on CharlieTickets over the fare on CharlieCards, and CharlieCards are, at least as of the last time I was there, and the last time the Wikipedia article was updated, distributed free of charge. Which begs the question of why on earth anybody (myself included, my last visit to Boston) bothers with CharlieTickets. (Unless I find a compelling reason to prefer a CharlieTicket, I’m definitely going CharlieCard; one cold, rainy night at the Symphony Hall station, when I couldn’t get the faregates to read my CharlieTicket, has convinced me of that!)

  3. I really think Metro needs to consider adapting paper passes with TAP embedded into it. This will attract more users and ease lots of confusion. Now, I know you are thinking “But Jack! That is stupid! We want to recycle and get people to reuse TAP Cards.” Agreed. But I am also coming from the standpoint that many people who use Metro may be an occasional user, a tourist, and not a seasoned Transit veteran such as myself.

    Now, I work in education and one of the key points that I try to hone is that we have to plan anticipate confusion. Ease of use has to be one of the main draws to getting people to use and get used to the system. When the occasional users arrive to use metro, they are confused. Mainly “Why do I have to pay for a TAP Card? Other agencies don’t do that, I want the paper thing!” Now, when there is a placard that says $1.75 with 2 hours free transfer (Which I completely support), the subtext says “must be on a tap card.” The initial repsonse will be “But I don’t want to buy a tap card.” Basically, It will make tourists, occasional users feel like they are getting gouged and feel like the $1.75 is not really the fare advertised.

    • “When the occasional users arrive to use metro, they are confused. Mainly “Why do I have to pay for a TAP Card? Other agencies don’t do that, I want the paper thing!”

      Depends whether the tourist is from the US or from abroad. If from abroad, which LA does get a lot of, the opposite is true: “you guys still uses paper tickets? Why can’t you just sell plastic cards with reloadable cash on them!? Man, America is so backward!”