How We Roll, Tuesday, August 4

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.

Metro specific tweets from LAT transportation reporter Laura Nelson:

We’ll post a Metro news release soon about the innovation effort.

•Things to listen to while sitting or standing around on transit: Fresh Air interviews writer Buzz Bissinger on the 25th anniversary of his book “Friday Night Lights,” which spawned both a popular movie and television show about small-town high school football in Texas. What’s interesting is that one of the themes of the book is that high school football was as good as it was going to get for many Permian Panthers. But, as this podcast explores, the successful book was also as good as it was going to get success-wise for its relatively young author.

The interview also takes an unusual turn with Bissinger discussing some of his addictions, which involve some adult themes for those with sensitive ears.

•Things to read while sitting or standing around on transit: Nice appreciation of Jon Stewart by David Remnick in the New Yorker. On the subject of peaking, I’m kind of glad to see Stewart moving on. The show is still great but I think it reached its nadir a few years ago and it’s refreshing to see that Stewart wants to challenge himself in other ways — perhaps as a film director — while he’s still relatively young.

People stuck in traffic for three hours have turned New Jersey freeway into day at beach (Buzzfeed) 

A truck fire started the mess. This Vine says it all:

Congress should look beyond the gas tax (NYT)

Another call for taxing motorists by the mile instead of (or perhaps in addition to) at the pump. In Oregon — one state where they’re actually trying this — the tax is 1.5 cents per mile. Here’s how it plays out according to this Beaver State graphic:


I guess they didn’t have a calculator handy in the ODOT offices, so I’ll do the math for you: the road tax resulted in about $95 more of taxes than the gas tax alone. With fuel efficiency of vehicles improving but Americans still driving a lot, the road tax is seen as a smarter way to ensure there’s money in the future to pay for road and transit projects.

Explainer: on transit integration or seamlessness (Human Transit) 

Transpo planner Jarrett Walker responds in lengthy fashion to the NYT story over the weekend about the mess of different transit systems in the Bay Area and the seams between many of them (different fares, schedules, etc.). His answer to this: there is no firm answer and that big, centralized transit agencies may erase seams but also may be less responsive to customers.

As an aside, Metro CEO Phil Washington mentioned “seamlessness” at a meeting with Metro staff this a.m., saying that he certainly wants to see Metro and other transit agencies throughout Southern California work better together with more common fare media.

San Diego bikeshare program hits snags over modest use, rental locations (LAT)

The chief complaint in this weed-diver seems to be that the firm in charge of the program, DecoBike, is putting too many bikes in tourist-friendly locations instead of commuter friendly locations. The program began earlier this year. Company officials say more locations will soon be added.

In other bikeshare news, CityLab is super-excited about a new study that suggests that bikeshare works well with transit in both D.C. and Minneapolis and, long story short, expands transit’s reach (which, of course, is the whole idea). This, CityLab writes, proves that bikeshare is a genuine form of public transportation, a sentiment I also saw bouncing around on Twitter yesterday.

I’m all for bikeshare but I also don’t think riding a bike is quite the same as riding a bus or train. Show me more protected bike lanes and I’ll get excited, thank you. Some me a proclamation about semantics and I’ll just go to sleep. Even writing about it makes me all yawny.

Over at Streetsblog LA, I think Joe Linton is paying attention to a more significant issue: the role of Metro TAP cards in checking out bikes when Metro’s bikeshare program begins in DTLA next year. Nothing firm on that front yet, but Joe raises some interesting questions about the process of putting enough money on a TAP card to participate in bikeshare.



21 replies

  1. In reply to An average Millennial it is possibly to enjoy both, Eco friendly cars are fast catching gas guzzlers, in fact at we have performance cars that are plug-in hybrid eco-friendly vehicle, like the very fast BMW I8. The life expectancy in various countries is affected by pollution, and thus is people drive eco-friendly vehicles, eventually it will improve life expectancy.

    • “The life expectancy in various countries is affected by pollution, and thus is people drive eco-friendly vehicles…”

      I doubt eco-friendly vehicles existed anywhere when the people who are 80-90 years old were kids back in the 1920s and 1930s.

  2. “So the decision is drive a small fuel efficient vehicle and die or drive a gas guzzler and live.”

    If longevity is the biggest factor that triumphs all, then the best suggestion is to move to any number of countries that have higher life expectancy rates than the US:

    Even if I drive an SUV and live, I’m still likely to die 4-5 years earlier than the average Japanese, Andorran, Australian, Swiss, Italian, Singaporean, or Sammarinese.

    Death being equal to all Americans that we die somewhere around 79 (76 for men, 81 for women), I’d rather just save money and use the extra cash to enjoy life as it comes.

    If I can save up $1,200 a year in gas driving in a Prius over a F-150, I’d save it up for 5 years to help fund a backpacking trip to Europe and Asia.

  3. I find it amusing that there’s a person here who advocates people to buy bigger, gas guzzling, ecologically unfriendly vehicles all in the name of safety on a mass transit board, without considering the obvious: this is LA we’re talking about.

    In LA 2015, the vast majority of car use in LA is just regular everyday commuting. In everyday commuting in LA 2015, you’re not going 100 mph down Wilshire Blvd, you’re not going offroading to Griffith Park either. Everyone is stuck in traffic going 4 or 5 miles per hour! Hello!?

    In LA 2015, it doesn’t matter if you have the biggest, baddest SUV out there like a Lincoln Navigator or a tuned up Nissan Skyline GTR. Chances are, these cars are stuck in traffic next to a Nissan Leaf or a Fiat 500! And the only one that actually is moving is the smaller vehicles like the people on Kawasakis, Harleys, and Vespas because they get to lane-split through traffic.

    All traffic speeds being equal in LA 2015, the person driving the eco-friendly car or the motorcyclist comes out the winner here in LA.

    • A cheap fuel efficient vehicle will only make you the winner as to who will die and who will live. And that small piece of junk will only leave you with a wad of money in your wallet for someone to empty as you lie there dying in the street.

      • Emotionally based arguments aside, do you have any proof, data, or statistics to show the number of car accidents that occurred in LA County against the number of total vehicles on the road today (showing how likely one is to get into a car accident in LA County), and how that correlates to survival / injury rates depending on what type of vehicle the person was using?

        “And that small piece of junk…”

        All of which much pass strict National Highway Traffic Safety crash tests to be able to be sold here in the US.

        • Tell us how a Toyota Prius was rated as safe in crash tests compared with a Ford F100 pick up.

      • “leave you with a wad of money in your wallet for someone to empty as you lie there dying in the street.”

        I actually find this disheartening that you are so filled with distrust that the first thing that crosses your mind is that someone will rob the person lying on the street injured, rather than having faith in the kindness of others that people will come to the aid to help the person.

        Then again, I can also understand why many in LA feel that way why you can’t trust others. After all, we’re also known for this:

        But you gotta start somewhere. Learn to trust others, not exacerbate the mistrust further.

        • It’s not about trust but rather to make my point that while you will save money by not buying as much gas with a small vehicle you may die because it’s just not as well made as a SUV for instance.

  4. I worked for the RTD/MTA for over 30 years and can ride free as a retiree. I try to avoid riding the bus as much as possible due to the buses being so slow and the nut cases that seem to be on every bus I have ridden recently.

    • nuts exist in every facet of our society…. even on our roads… just move. there will always be someone trying to cheat their way through

    • If so and that’s the majority view of former Metro employees (says a lot about the state of affairs of the Metro system that even former Metro employees don’t even want to ride Metro), then perhaps it’s time to scrap said benefits for retired Metro employees for the sake of taxpayers.

      I mean, why should taxpayers pay for the benefits of something that they don’t use anyway, right?

  5. On the subject of ‘why so few people ride’, perhaps the transit agencies aren’t counting the scofflaws. On recent bus & rail trips I’ve become more aware of the ‘tricks’:
    – rail patrons run past the TAP stations (no turnstyle) to catch the train just about to leave, no way or reason to ‘tap in’ on the train
    – many bus patrons board at the middle door and don’t pay the fare. Drivers won’t stop or call them out on the practice

    And so it goes …..

  6. Interesting that CEO Washington is bringing in some fellow managers from Denver.
    Question for Metro – do the old managers become ‘special people’ who are parked at their existing salary in a do-nothing job where they can’t be fired, or are they separated with a generous, taxpayer funded golden parachute?
    Maybe some service cutbacks coming to pay for all this …….

  7. So a person driving a 2014 Toyota Prius that has a curb weight of only 3,400 lbs pays the same $194.43 as a 2014 Ford F-150 which has a curb weight of 5,000+ lbs, that in which vehicle weight is a major contributor on how much damage it does to the roads? What does a semi-trailer truck pay? What does a motorcycle pay?

    The problem is that they expect all cars to be the same when what type of car driven that contributes to wear and tear on our roads should be taken account too. They can’t put a Hummer on the same level as a Honda Civic, they can put a semi-trailer at the same rate as a motorcycle.

    Road taxes should be aggregated by the weight of the vehicle driven. The lighter the car, the less taxes per mile you pay, the heavier the car the more taxes per mile you pay. This will encourage people to buy and drive smarter and more fuel efficient vehicles, not gas guzzling macho type pickup trucks or SUVs that only contributes to more pollution.

    • Those gas guzzling mach type pickups and SUV’s are far safer than those small fuel efficient vehicles. My safety is more important than the few extra dollars I must pay for gas.

      • What you might seem like “few extra dollars” is relative and differs in perspective from person to person.

        If going by the chart above, a Toyota Prius can get by with $745 in gas compared to a Ford F-150 would cost $2,000 to travel the same distance per year. That’s a difference of $1,255, hardly what most people would say “few extra dollars.” If a Prius would allow to save over $1,200 in gas a year, I’d rather use that savings and get a little better insurance, probably buy a new tablet, perhaps even buy a cheap used scooter to do short runs.

        I’m sure the usual argument that’s next up that bat is that said difference in gas savings is offset when the time comes to replace the Prius’ battery because it costs $4,000-$5,000 just to replace it, but as with anything these days, there are now third party vendors on eBay and all over the internet that remanufactures and refurbishes hybrid batteries that’s just as good for cheap, under $1,000 with DIY videos on Youtube.

      • buying more insurance is not going to save your life. Being in a better built, heavier vehicle will.

    • That’s a great idea! We can go even further and make the correlate the tax to the amount of carbon that the vehicle belches into the environment. If only there was some convenient way to estimate that value.

      • “If only there was some convenient way to estimate that value.”

        Simple. Every motor vehicle (except motorcycles, scooters, and mopeds) go biannual smog checks. California has all the data they need to figure this out. Alternatively, every motor vehicle these days has an estimated EPA rating from the manufacturer based on year, make and model. That too can be used as a guideline if they choose to do so.

        A person is free to choose to drive a Cadillac Escalade or a Bugatti Veyron because it looks cool and want to get laid, but expect to pay more per mile than the other driver who chooses to drive a Ford Focus or a Toyota Corolla.

        Personally, I think any car driver who drives a hybrid or non-gasoline powered automobile (electric, hydrogen fuel cell, CNG natural gas) should be exempted from paying any mileage taxes as they’re already doing their part to help keep the air clean. You shouldn’t be punishing those who do their part to help build a cleaner air California. Besides, the more people drive more fuel efficient vehicles, the less demand there will be in gasoline here in California, which means there will be more supply of our own special blend in gas, and gas prices in California will drop for the benefit of us all who drive.

        Don’t want to pay mileage taxes? Don’t buy a gas guzzling vehicle that hurts the environment. Don’t make stupid decisions like living out in the suburbs and commuting 20 miles each way on an Escalade and complaining how high the gases are for you. You make stupid decisions, you pay the consequences, just like getting cancer from smoking. It’s no one’s fault but theirs.

        If they don’t want to be nickel and dimed, buy a hybrid or learn how to drive a motorcycle or scooter.

        Don’t like the idea? Move to Arizona. Simple as that.

        • So the decision is drive a small fuel efficient vehicle and die or drive a gas guzzler and live.