How We Roll, Sept. 30: Dodgers win, ride-share and transit, more WiFi bus stops

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Newsflash!: proving that jinxes don’t exist (see previous installments of HWR for our Dodgers playoff predictions long before it was certain) the Dodgers last night clinched the NL West, securing their place in the NL Division Series with a shutout win over the loathsome Gigantes de San Francisco.


Next up…the New York Mets.

That means we’ll have more Dodgers Stadium Express for you beginning either Friday, October 9 or Monday, October 12, depending on which team wins home-field advantage. The New York Post and CBS Sports have spotted the Twitter beanball contest and lobbed their own insults, aimed (not surprisingly) at the West/Best Coast. As Yoda might say, jealous they are. The L.A. Times has taken up the cause and responded.


Guest opinion: Uber and Lyft, a solution to L.A.’s first mile last mile dilemma (Streetsblog LA)

A guest post at Streetsblog explores the reasons why Metro should partner with ride-share services like Uber and Lyft to supplement its transit service. A partnership could extend the reach of the transit network, by connecting residences to transit stations. The goal is to keep the ride share services convenient and affordable enough that it makes sense for people to forgo using their own vehicles for a majority of their trips.

Knowing that many ride-share trips already begin or end at public transit stations and also acknowledging the reality of the sprawling geography of Los Angeles and the limitations of Metro’s most ambitious plans, the author argues ride sharing offers Metro the best chance at reaching the most people. He presents a few ways a partnership could work to streamline the customer experience between ride sharing and public transit. Excerpt:

In terms of physical infrastructure, Metro and city agencies could work together to create “Uberports,” curb space near stations dedicated exclusively for ride-hail pick-ups and drop-offs. The length of such designated curb space would vary based on the station’s level of traffic and availability of parking space. Digitally, Metro (which will bring wireless service to its underground lines within the next two years) could encourage ride-hail company software designers to tailor their apps to detect when a passenger is on a particular rail line and to coordinate pick-ups with a train’s arrival time at a particular station.

My two cents: I can personally say a designated pick up or drop off area and additional signage at transit stations wouldn’t hurt, but would it be a game changer? Unlikely. It’s the ideas that look to utilize realtime technology and flexible promotions — both made Lyft and Uber stand out in the first place — that will have the most success in influencing commuter behavior. And maybe that isn’t too far off…

Elsewhere in ride share news, your next Uber driver might be a retiree.

The stinking problem with L.A. Metro’s seats (Neon Tommy)

In this opinion piece, a USC student complains that the seats on Metro don’t smell too rosy. While the case for using plastic seats over cloth seats has been made elsewhere, aficionados of journalism may notice that the article includes no attempt to quantify the issue, no quotes from other riders and no response from Metro. 

We certainly can’t say that Metro’s heavily used buses and trains are always 100 percent clean and odor free. We also don’t feel like this is a particular problem that we’ve noticed. 

That said, Metro’s Rail Fleet Services cleans and inspects every rail car in preparation for service the next day. The seats are checked each night and any that are found with graffiti or that are soiled or damaged are changed. The reason they are changed: if cleaned right away, they wouldn’t dry before service the next day.

L.A.’s great streets are getting new bus stops with WiFi and phone chargers (Curbed LA)

A few months after the unveiling of a similarly wired bus stop in downtown L.A., the L.A. Great Streets rolled out another new bus stop Monday. The WiFi enabled, cell phone charging bus stops was installed in Historic South Central. Eventually, bus stops along all 15 of the L.A. Great Streets (listed here) targeted for “people-first” makeovers will be getting bus stops with the same amenities.

Metrolink mulls fare policy changes (Progressive Railroading)

Metrolink will hold a public hearing next week to examine potential changes to its fare policies. The discussion comes after the first two months of a reduced fare pilot program showed a 10.2 percent increase in ridership, but a 17.8 percent loss in revenue. The six-month long pilot program on the commuter rail service’s Antelope Valley Line is testing the effect on a 25 percent reduction of regular fares. The other notable fare item up for public discussion is what amounts a $3 station-to-station fare.

Pope Francis lays hands on ailing infrastructure (The Onion)

Photo: The Onion

Sadly, this didn’t actually happen. But it probably should have.

Some recent How We Rolls: 

Sept 29: Richard Katz weighs in on the San Fernando Valley’s transit needs, bill signed for hit-and-run alerts on electronic freeway signs, Shell exits the arctic, the N.Y. Islanders new goal horn brought to you by the NYMTA

Sept. 28: Lunar eclipse over Metro, the San Fernando Valley wish list of transit projects, things to read on transit (profile of Grimes in the New Yorker) and an update on the five electric buses delivered to Metro earlier this year.

Sept. 25: Regional Connector 1st/Central Station update, Gold Line beyond Azusa, mega-rents in L.A. and mega-drought impacting our native chaparral in the mountains.

Sept. 24: Metro considers bus stop ‘thinning,’ personal pod transit nonsense, things to read on transit, baseball stats and the Dodger Stadium Express.

Sept. 22: New York subway’s ‘pizza rat,’ more on China’s bid to build high-speed rail to Vegas, a motion that seeks to make college/vocational TAP cards easier and cheaper to obtain and books versus tablets on transit.

Sept. 18: My so long to long-time Metro flack Marc Littman, will it take China’s dollars to finally build a train between L.A. and Vegas and a horse rides light rail in Ireland.

Sept. 16: Joe predicts Dodgers win in four games against N.Y. Mets in NL Divisional Series.

Joe is on Twitter. Follow him @joseph_lem.

14 replies

  1. I really doubt that drivers for Lyft and Uber will be all too interested in trying to make a living from First-Mile-Last-Mile customers. That is unless they’re able to take the scenic route that would add 10 miles to the ride!

    • Who says Uber and Lyft will still be relying on human drivers in the near future?

      • Agreed, Paul C.. The only way it would work would be self-driving cars. But I’m highly skeptical about that, and I’m not generally a skeptic.

      • People once said that they’re skeptical of the idea that we will land people on the Moon and bring them back home safely or that one day everyone will have a computer in their home.

        Anything can happen. If self driving cars come to fruition, it’ll be a total game changer for everyone.

  2. Metrolink station-to-station fare

    A station-to-station fare of $3 per station is questionable as the distance between the stations themselves can vary.

    Is it fair to say that going from Union Station to Cal State LA should cost the same $3.00 for only 4.6 miles of transit, whereas Cal State LA to El Monte is also the same $3.00 when the distance between the two stations is approx more than double of LAUS to Cal State LA at 9 miles?

    What’s the prospect of Metrolink than adding more stations closer together so as to make more money? If need be, Metrolink can decide to add a Monterey Park station between Cal State LA and El Monte and jack up the fare from LAUS to El Monte to $9.00 since now it goes through 3 stations.

  3. The piece on the Metro seats is more of a personal observation/essay and not intended to be journalism. That said, I think you either go with full upholstered seats, like what you might find on Foothill Transit or LADOT Commuter Express, or vinyl seats with padding like BART. Metrolink has comfortable vinyl seats similar to what you might find on a 80’s era car. The current seats do not provide padding but do provide a mild amount of resistance to people slipping.

    I would not support the use of plastic only seats like on Chicago or New York’s subway system. On the old SCRTD, there used to be a hierarchy of seating on some buses. Full upholstered seats up front for the senior/disabled reserved area, seats with inserts (similar to the Metro Red Line) in the middle, and plastic only seats (like New York) behind the back door.

    • I’m fine with someone expressing their opinion. But I do not believe that an opinion piece gives someone free reign to just say anything.

      Steve Hymon
      Editor, The Source

      • RE: Uber and Lyft to solve first/last mile

        I take this idea with a grain of salt. For one, nothing is stopping Uber and Lyft to start replicating their own bus-like services with them starting to beta-test smart routes in San Francisco.

        If that becomes the case, then Uber and Lyft isn’t a partner of public transit, it’s becomes a direct competitor to them.

        And Uber and Lyft has an edge against public transit agencies: they’re not tied down with politics and bureaucratic red tape to get stuff going. While Metro ponders about distance based fares and goes back and forth within their organization about it and still trying to figure out how to get the TAP thing to work across multiple agencies, Uber and Lyft is already running them that way, with direct deduction from credit cards, which is compatible from using Uber whether one is in LA to half a world away in Delhi, India.

      • I don’t know, Steve, 29% of riders disagree that “this train is generally clean” from Metro’s own surveys – – an eight percentage point decrease in satisfaction and the biggest negative drop on the survey for ALL perception categories surveyed. Regardless of whether the train is clean enough in Metro’s eyes or not, the fact is that for riders, the dirty train perception is growing dramatically.

  4. I guess it will take some time, and I think our fair weather plays a factor, but taking a cab/uber/lyft to Metro is the norm in many cities if you don’t live within about 15 mins or if whether is severe and walking is just a chore.

    Sometimes its embarrassing how helpless some are in regards to Metro. I had a discussion with a friend who moved to an area near Expo. He is close. So close, I can hear train from his house, yet he rides about once a month. I make fun of him because I consider him pretty logical, yet he drives instead of using the system. His excuses? Well, he claims he was robbed at a bus stop in 2000 on Venice and Broadway. Okay, bad reasoning. Then he compares what I call apples to astronauts and tell me “well, if we were in Paris, blah blah blah”. Well, we are not in Paris.

    So it really is up to people to find a way metro works for them. Uberports however? Thats a bit much in my opinion (grain of salt). I’ve been riding since the RTD days to Kindergarten though. So transit is in my DNA, and all of the different options and augmentations. Like Uber, Metro Local, Metro Rapid, Metro Rail, DASH, Commuter Express, and the old Yellow Cab. Critical thought goes a long way, yet in sounds like metro would be investing in something that is already a possibility with the right mentality.