Lack of parking drives many away from mass transit (L.A. Times)
An updated look at a long-debated issue in transit circles: how much, if any, lack of parking at transit stations. Forty of Metro’s 80 stations have parking — and parking at some of the most popular stations is often gobbled up early on weekday mornings (Norwalk, NoHo, Universal City and Culver City are a few examples).
On the other hand, Metro has thousands of free spaces — as well as some paid ones — and I can definitely point to places where parking is relatively easy. This interactive map gives you an idea where the parking is located.
Excerpt from the Times article:
“Today I got lucky,” said Ashley Scott, 30, as she waited for her train to Hollywood on a recent Thursday morning. “I was this close to just getting on the 101.”
Scott’s daily dilemma illustrates an often overlooked but significant choke point in the ambitious growth of L.A.’s light-rail system. Metro’s six-line network, which has seen steady ridership gains over the last five years, now carries about 350,000 people on work days. Parking shortages could complicate Metro’s goal of shifting hundreds of thousands more drivers to public transit in coming decades.
Planners say it’s impractical, perhaps impossible, to build enough free parking. Train station lots have low turnover because most commuters leave their cars all day. To meet demand, Metro lots would have to sprawl far beyond the station—or, in dense urban areas, rise several stories.
It’s a tough issue as many planners believe that it’s far wiser in the long-term to build developments with more jobs and/or residences near transit. Their belief is that promoting density near transit will ultimately produce more riders than sprawling parking lots and also lead to building cities with a higher quality-of-life.
On the other hand, it’s undeniable that — at least for now — parking is the carrot that makes taking transit possible for some of our riders.
And then there’s the issue of expense and space. For example, there is no parking planned along the Purple Line Extension subway, which largely follows densely developed Wilshire Boulevard. On the other hand, the Gold Line Foothill Extension — in the more suburban San Gabriel Valley — will eventually have parking at each of its six new stations.
As it happens, I just got off the phone with Andrew Young, who recently co-authored a study with David Levinson at the University of Minnesota that ranked Metro areas according to their transit accessibility to jobs. The Los Angeles area ranked third, so I asked Andrew what he thought about the parking conundrum.
“You can build parking lots that makes transit useful to those who live some distance away from stations or you can build housing and destination adjacent to that station that will be used by those in future who will work and live there,” he said. “The question is: do you want to build for an existing constituency or do you want to build for a currently nonexistent constituency that one day will live next to the station. In many places, building for the future is hard for current politicians….people like the status quo and people in the status quo are the ones who vote and it’s always hard to change that.”
Of course, there’s a related issue here, too — whether parking, where it exists, should be free? Streetsblog L.A. has written about that, criticizing Metro for offering free subsidies for auto users that it doesn’t necessarily offer for those who get to stations on foot, bikes or even transit.
Personal disclosure on this item: I often pay $2 to park at the Gold Line’s Del Mar station, where there is always plenty of parking to be had. I could ride my bike, walk or try to snare a ride from the Domestic Partner (when not working herself), but I’ve found driving to be quicker.
More headline funtivitity after the jump!
Coverage on the Times’ news pages of Kinkisharyo’s apparent decision to build a permanent light rail car manufacturing facility outside of Palmdale. The firm — which is building new light rail cars for Metro — is assembling them in Palmdale, but is facing an environmental lawsuit brought by the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers who are demanding an easier path to organizing workers at the factory. Excerpt:
“We offer good salaries and good benefits, and we’ve never had a labor issue,” Donald Boss, Kinkisharyo’s general manager of program management, told The Times. “If our employees want to organize, they can. But we aren’t going to organize for them.”
The IBEW didn’t return calls for comment. Other local labor leaders told the Times that Metro should force Kinkisharyo to deal with the unions.
A Times infographic looks at one of the alternatives under study in Metro’s SR-710 North project. The other alternatives: light rail between East Los Angeles and Pasadena, bus rapid transit between East L.A. and Pasadena, street and intersection improvements and the legally-required no-build option.
A draft environmental impact report is scheduled to be released by Metro and Caltrans in February followed by a 90-day public comment period. Here is the project’s web page on metro.net; the project team has an ongoing series on “facts vs fiction” about the project.
Golden Gate Bridge renews talk of sidewalk tolls (Marin Independent Journal)
With the Golden Gate Bridge District facing a budget deficit and about 16,000 walkers and cyclists using the bridge daily during the peak season, officials have revived an old proposal to perhaps charge the pedestrians and cyclists a toll. Motorists in cars pay either $6 using a FasTrak transponder (your ExpressLanes transponder will work on the bridge) or $7 if using pay-by-plate (camera takes picture of your license plate and you get a bill in the mail).
My three cents….hmmmm. I suppose this first raises the question of whether pedestrians and cyclists can strap transponders on themselves. I also wonder what happens when the apes finally decide to revolt (and there is nothing in the current news cycle that indicates this won’t happen). This scene, from “Rise of the Planet of the Apes,” would have been far less interesting if the apes had to stop, pull out a wallet and pay a toll. Just saying.
I like Kansas City in seven games with the last game not being decided until the bottom of the ninth inning — which suits the Royals’ style this season.
Observation: I grew up somewhat of a traditionalist believing that the participants in the World Series should largely be decided by the outcome of a too-long 162-game regular season and one playoff between division winners.
But I’ve come around to baseball’s relatively new format that sends two wild card teams and three division winners in each league to the post-season. While the regular season should be shortened to a more humane 154 games, the new post-season format has made the regular season and post-season exciting with an appropriate incentive for winning a division — avoiding the one-game wildcard round. Well played, Major League Baseball.
Categories: Transportation Headlines