Art of Transit:
And speaking of the Expo Line…
The new study from USC crunches traffic data numbers and finds, at best, mixed results that speeds on the Santa Monica Freeway and other major roads near the Expo Line have improved. As one source in the story says, that’s not surprising given that it’s unlikely any single transit project is going to fix traffic.
My three cents: it’s always better to have this type of data than not to have it. That said, as attentive readers here know there are a lot of big cities with vast transit systems that also have traffic problems even near transit lines (pick one: San Francisco, Chicago, New York, London, Paris, Beijing, Moscow, etc.).
I feel like this is the most important part of the LAT story:
But the findings suggest that political and transportation leaders should rethink the way they market such transit investments to the public. Emphasizing reduced traffic congestion, researchers said, undersells more valid reasons for supporting public transit, such as providing transportation for low-wage earners, increasing links to job centers and providing more travel options.
“Looking into the future, this study shows us how to be more realistic in what we should expect from transit,” said Sandip Chakrabarti, a researcher at USC’s Metrans Transportation Center, which conducted the study for the county’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority. “There is a value in creating quality transit for those who use it by choice or by need. It improves productivity for a lot of people.”
Hard to quibble with any of that. To put it another way: no one wants to create a backlash against transit or investment in transit by inaccurately forecasting what it will accomplish. Correct me if I’m wrong, but I actually think the conversation around transit in our community and local media is more sophisticated than it used to be. That’s probably a reflection, too, that a lot of people in the L.A. area are from elsewhere or are well-traveled and understand that transit is not a magic pill.
Here’s Metro’s response to the study for the media:
This is a comprehensive study that contains a lot of important information. But what shouldn’t get lost in the mix is the first phase of the Expo Line has shattered all ridership projections, now carrying over 30,000 daily riders, that’s a lot of cars we’re taking off the roads each day. When phase two of the project to Santa Monica opens next year, thousands of commuters on the Westside will have a reliable alternative to get out of their cars and onto mass transit. Metro believes that all of our projects now operational or in the works are viable transportation alternatives and are providing thousands of commuters relief from mobility congestion in the region and improving the quality of life.”
Cleaner cars from cradle to grave (Union of Concerned Scientists)
The new study finds that electric cars over their lifetime produce fewer greenhouse gas emissions than gasoline-powered vehicles. There has been a lot of dispute over this issue with some arguing that electric vehicles aren’t so green when their manufacture and disposal are considered. This study says the benefits of electric vehicles once they hit the road gives them the edge.
Here’s a video from the group about the study:
Federal fossil fuel programs contradict Obama’s climate goals (High Country News)
While many environmentalists and climate change activists praised the President’s decision to stop the Keystone Pipeline from being built, the article notes that there are not new restrictions on the amount of fossil fuels that can be extracted from federal lands in the U.S. There is a burgeoning ‘keep-it-in-the-ground’ movement, the article notes — but coal, natural gas and oil are still coming out of the ground at a higher rate than in recent times.
And I don’t say that to be judgey. There are a lot of people who believe that it’s best to produce our own fossil fuels for all sorts of reasons, including national security. The obvious implication of ‘keeping it in the ground’ is that we need to get moving on alternative energy sources.
From the U.S. Energy Information Administration:
Nov. 16: L.A. transit vs S.F. transit, a cartoon car neatly explains sprawl, traffic and parking woes and determining the environmental impact of Uber and Lyft.
Nov. 13: Readers recommend books to read while in transit, bike sharing debuts in SaMo, induced demand and Caltrans.
Nov. 12: Regional Connector cost increases and potential delays, suspect in bus slaying arrested, bike share and bike infrastructure, Missy Elliot in the subway.
Nov. 10: crime stats and Metro, the fare structure for Metro’s bike share program, a suggestion for future Metro transit projects.
Nov. 9: Expo Line traffic signal testing in SaMo, the human cost of failing infrastructure.
Categories: Transportation Headlines