Transportation headlines, Monday, Nov. 3

Have a transportation-related article you think should be included in headlines? Drop me an email! And don’t forget, Metro is on TwitterFacebook and Instagram.

Fun/novel video above recently released by San Luis Obispo Transit promoting bus service.

Will free public transportation get Americans to voting booths? (CityLab) 

Metro Transit that provides service to the Twin Cities in Minnesota will offer free service on Tuesday in response to a recent state law requiring free transit on national election days. CityLab takes a look at some other metro areas where there is free transit service on Election Day and finds that free transit doesn’t seem to have much impact on voter turnout. Excerpt:

“If we just make public transit free on election day, maybe some would use it on the margin, but that’s not the real cost of voting,” says Adam J. Berinsky, a political scientist from MIT. “The real cost is getting people engaged enough in voting to go out and do it,” Berinsky explains.

“Most of the research shows that for low turnout, the biggest problem is a lack of motivation,” Gimpel agrees.

Concur. That said, I hope everyone is motivated to vote tomorrow. If not, how’s this for motivation: there’s not much worse than letting someone else make all the decisions for you. If you live in Los Angeles County, click here to get your voting info.

How Uber is changing night life in Los Angeles (New York Times) 

The article — which LAObserved’s Kevin Roderick correctly labels as lightly reported — asserts that the car-sharing service Uber is persuading more people to go out at night, particularly in downtown Los Angeles. The article doesn’t have any statistics and doesn’t mention transit, which I think is a factor in some parts of town (on Friday and Saturday nights, Metro offers service until 2 a.m. on Metro Rail, the Orange Line and Silver Line). I think that Uber does make it easier to get around — and that’s a factor for some. But I suspect the foremost reason night life is enjoying a resurgence in DTLA: there are now places in DTLA worth visiting at night 🙂

iMore headlines after the jump!

Why a subway-building binge could transform L.A.’s tech culture (Fast Company)

Putting aside the article labeling all of Metro Rail a subway (the Red Line and Purple Line are a subway, the others are light rail and exist largely at street level), the article takes a nice look at transit in L.A. County and how some people are using it — and might use it in the future. Excerpt:

The expansion of Los Angeles’ subway system means more than just the dubious opportunity for engineers to review code while riding to work or busy advertising executives to catch up on their inbox. It also offers a chance for the region’s high tech-centric firms to attain what they’ve previously lacked: cross-fertilization between companies and across industries. By expanding the subway system, Los Angeles urban planners are facilitating the easy travel between business meetings that’s commonplace in New York, London, and San Francisco.

While venues such as 41 Ocean, the West Hollywood branch of Soho House and the various branches of The Standard hotel have been buttressing up high-end industry events, and organizations like General Assembly have done much to spur cross-fertilization among tech companies, the region still lacks those common places. A startup executive working in Santa Monica would have to spend at least 45 minutes driving to a demo happy hour in an Arts District warehouse space–and that’s before looking for parking. Among other things, the Los Angeles subway expansion will connect most of the area’s major tech nodes with each other.

In the end, the challenge is teaching Angelenos to enjoy and use public transit. For Los Angeles Metro, they might have to resort to a novel solution: telling commuters that, for once in a car city, they can use their iPhones and Kindles on the way to work.

As you know, there isn’t internet access on the subway at this time — although Metro has a project to install cell phone service at underground stations (I’m trying to find out when that will be complete). Otherwise, riders should be able to connect with the internet on much of the Metro system and/or read previously downloaded material.

Or, of course, you can also read books on transit! No internet/batteries required!

Slow cab coming (New Yorker) 

Speed limits on surface streets in New York’s five boroughs will drop from the usual 30 miles per hour to 25 mph next week in the interest of safety — for pedestrians, cyclists and motorists. Officials are also promising greater enforcement — in the past, the 30 mph limit was mostly enforced by rampant traffic congestion although anyone who has ridden in a New York taxi late at night knows that the speed limit was however fast the cabbie could drive without wiping out. Excerpt:

The speed-limit change is another milestone in the ongoing struggle for control of the streets—our latter-day version of “The Pushcart War,” except that instead of venders with peashooters, aiming pins at the tires of big trucks, we have the Citi Bikers with Instagram accounts, tsk-tsking the cabbies and S.U.V.s. The wickedness of the automobile, and of anyone who would be so crass as to operate one, is a central tenet of contemporary urban planning. The Bloomberg administration began redesigning the streets, to decrease the car’s dominion, and now de Blasio is continuing the campaign.

The New Yorker’s Nick Paumgarten sounds skeptical that the change will result in much…change. My three cents: I think Bloomberg and de Blasio were/are barking up the right tree.


9 replies

  1. Typical clueless NYT article manages to find typical clueless and homesick NYC transplants trying to turn L.A. into a Disneyland version of New York. Uber doesn’t change anything outside of a few cherry picked neighborhoods favored by these transplants. Cars and buses are the reality for most Angelenos,

  2. I find the NY Times article on Uber interesting, not just in its failure to mention Metro, but in its ridiculous assertion that cruising The Strip is still a part of the LA lifestyle. What is this, 1957?

  3. I thought one interesting part of the Fast Company article was his take on our economic situation:

    “According to estimates by the American Community Survey, the median earnings of Los Angeles public transit riders are only 54.7% that of the public as large. But in Cambridge, Massachusetts, public transit commuters earn 110.5% more than the public at large; in New York, MTA commuters come in at a respectable 96%. ”

    When fare hikes or anything else about Metro is discussed, this is an important figure to keep in mind.

    • Hi Collin;

      Completely agree. I should have pointed to that part of the story.

      Steve Hymon
      Editor, The Source

  4. Ohhhh, hopefully the cellphone signal thing underneath the subways are completed soon! It will go a long way in projecting a cool image of the subways! (Of course, I already think the Red Line is cool!).

  5. Honestly, I don’t know why voters in California still actually go out to vote when this state is one of the easiest in the nation to do permanent mail-in ballots. How hard is it to go to the LA County Registrar’s website, fill in your info, and become a registered as a permanent mail in ballot? You get the ballot in the mail, fill in the candidates you want to pick, sign it, slap a Forever stamp, and you’re done weeks ahead of the voting day. No need to wait in long lines on Election Day.

  6. Considering how easy it is to get signed up for vote-by-mail, there’s really no excuse for not voting. You can vote from the comfort of your own armchair! Or wherever. I haven’t visited a voting booth in years, but I also haven’t missed voting in a single election in years. Even the teeny-tiny ones.

    • It amazes me how many people do not know that in California, *anyone* can vote by mail (absentee) without any excuse. Other states require an excuse or have a more complicated system than ours, but here in CA, you can have permanent vote by mail status for no reason other than you want to do it that way. In my opinion, there really needs to be more public awareness of this, but because of the costs involved, I understand why it isn’t promoted.

  7. The story written by Neal Ungerleider was, for the most part, well-written and what you guys at Metro have been writing (and blogging) about for the longest time. That said, there are a couple of errors from the Fast Company article: (1) He refers to Metro’s rail system as a “subway network.” Angelenos know very well that the only subway lines in Los Angeles are the Red and Purple lines; Blue, Green, Gold and Expo are light rail lines. (2) He also stated that El Segundo was not “linked to the city’s subway (sic) system.” El Segundo is, in fact, served by the Green Line.