How We Roll, Dec. 9: On The Move spotlight, health clinics at transit stops

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Art of Transit:


Art of Reminders:

Tomorrow is now today. The film is showing tonight at 8 p.m. in the Union Station Historic Ticketing Hall. More info here.

Art of Bringin’ The Juice:

L.A. public transit woos seniors as baby boomers go gray (KPCC)

Metro’s On The Move rider program for seniors is highlighted in this KPCC piece. The program organizes groups to travel on Metro with the goal of making seniors comfortable using the Metro system on their own. The program recently teamed up with a duo of senior transit travelers who wrote an L.A. transit tour book to share their advice with seniors.

Metro estimates that currently only six percent of L.A. County residents older than 65 take transit. By 2030, that demographic is expected to constitute one-fifth of the population of L.A. County, so providing accessible options for seniors will continue to be important.

Lisa Schweitzer, a USC professor that is usually a proponent of transit use, emphasizes that because of the physical limitations of older age, providing more transit options — not just public transit — should be the focus. Excerpt:

[Schweitzer] sees great opportunity in new technologies like ridesharing apps and autonomous vehicles. Their convenience could convince more seniors to give up driving.

“I see that as a complement to transit. You’re much better able to rely on public transit if you know you can call somebody if you run into trouble,” she said.

As the article says, public transit may not be for every senior, but for those that can still move comfortably it can be a whole new way to experience the city, especially for someone who has spent most of their lives seeing it from behind a dashboard. Senior bonus: Metro also offers discounted fares for riders over 62.

Attentive readers know that one of the big arguments for self-driving cars is their possible use by seniors. The question is to what degree those traveling in self-driving cars will have control over the cars or be required to have control over them.

Health clinics at [St. Louis] Metro stops? Researchers take a look (St. Louis Public Radio)

I’ve heard ideas for farmers markets and grocery stores at or adjacent to transit stops, but officials in St. Louis are looking at taking its health initiatives one step further. The research arm of Metro Transit St. Louis‘ parent company received a grant of about $42,000 to explore the feasibility of medical clinics at its stops.

Metro Transit officials and the transit riders interviewed in the article don’t see any drawbacks: transit stations are easy to get to and the existing infrastructure (which includes parking, apparently) is already in place.

The initial study will look to determine which stations would be best suited for the clinics, the services they will provide and whether the clinics will be brick-and-mortar, mobile or something in-between.

UberHop is Uber’s latest idea for killing transit (The Verge)

Ride-share company Uber is rolling out two new concepts. The first looks like the next iteration of its “Smart Routes” pilot we mentioned here back in August. It’s now being called UberHop and instead of being launched in San Francisco, it’s happening in Seattle.

The concept pairs separate riders requesting rides to and from proximate locations with one driver at a sole pick-up and drop-up spot. It looks and operates much like an on-demand bus system would.

UberHop, like Uber’s other ride matching service UberPool, charges a reduced fare compared to Uber’s other services where drivers pick up only one person. Like the Smart Routes pilot before it, it’s being labeled as a potential “public transit killer.” On their blog Tuesday, Uber said it’s a way to supplement transit and reduce the amount of cars on the road. Excerpt:

“Investment in mass transit is an important part of the solution,” Uber writes in a blog post Tuesday. “But it’s expensive and not everyone lives within walking distance of the subway or a bus stop. Uber helps use today’s existing infrastructure more efficiently at no extra cost by getting more butts into the backseats of fewer cars.”

Meanwhile, Chicago Uber users will be getting a new feature called Commute, which also looks to be the latest iteration of another pilot program in S.F. Commute is a carpool-like service that allows commuters to share their daily route information to pair up with commuters heading to similar destinations. More from the article:

Uber is billing both pilots as building on its goal of promoting the “casual carpool.” Half of Uber rides in San Francisco are through the Pool feature. Uber also claims that in LA, UberPool “cut the number of miles driven across town by 7.9 million and prevented carbon dioxide pollution by 1,400 metric tons.”

A very important unknown is whether Uber is making any money off of these cheaper, ride-matching offerings. And attentive readers know there’s been a lot of talk about whether the claim that Uber takes cars off the road is true or bunk.

Why aren’t urban planners ready for driverless cars? (CityLab)

Despite evidence indicating that driverless cars are likely to play a key role in transportation in the coming decades, long-term plans from planning organizations across the country are not yet addressing this possibility. It’s not that they’re unaware or skeptical of the technology’s prospects. Instead, one of the main reasons may be simply that there are still too many unknowns about what implementation will look like.

For example, how autonomous cars will affect car ownership and commute patterns is tough to predict. Other things though, such as a likely increase in vehicle miles traveled, increased traffic and parking efficiency, are reasonably anticipated and should begin to be factored in to future plans. The repercussions for failing to factor the possibilities: wasted time and taxpayer money. Excerpt:

But even the MPOs [Metropolitan Planning Organizations] interviewed by Guerra recognize that too much hesitation over imponderables becomes its own sort of planning decision. Take a basic highway expansion plan that’s in the works. Local officials might go through with the project, only to discover that the extra lanes are unnecessary in an age of driverless cars, which can safely operate closer together and thus serve as a de facto road expansion by themselves. There’s only so much road money to go around: using it for expansion instead of maintenance can be a big mistake.

Suggestions on areas where planning organizations should focus on emerging technology include areas where existing trends and the potential benefits of the technology merge — an example of this is parking policy that reduces parking requirements — as well as creating plans that anticipate a range of outcomes from emerging transit technologies.

Downtown L.A. in 1946 (LAObserved)

Hat-tip to L.A. Observed for finding this traffic officer training video from 1946 that gives viewers a glimpse of what downtown L.A. looked like near the end of the streetcar era. The video was posted by the L.A. City Clerk’s office back in October. From what I can tell, the video is set primarily at 9th and Hill and (I think) at 7th and Grand. It also features long shots looking down Broadway and 7th Street, and another clip of what could either be MacArthur Park or Pershing Square. Further speculation is welcome.

The video’s narration regarding appropriate — and inappropriate — traffic officer conduct is entertaining in its own right. It also hints of the changing mindset during the era that gave cars priority to the detriment of pedestrians and streetcars.

Recent How We Rolls:

Dec. 8: L.A. Weekly’s Purple Line Extension skepticism, smog discounts in Bejiing

Dec. 3: a new name for Pasadena’s bus system, flying versus the environment.

Dec. 2: Monrovia considers loaning 1.5 million to restore Gold Line adjacent historic train depot

Dec. 1: what can you do about climate change?

Nov. 30: Does too much cheap or free parking in L.A. County doom transit? And a futurist looks back at L.A.’s transpo past.

Joe is on Twitter @joseph_lem

5 replies

  1. The “no one else in the US is doing it” as a valid argument is a major hypocrisy commonly used by liberals here in CA and LA where they claim we are supposedly “leaders” in doing things in our own way apart from the rest of the nation, and the usual argument that “if we do it, the rest of the nation will follow” and yet, the reality is that no one else follows suit.

    If the argument “we shouldn’t be doing something when no one else in the US is doing it,” then the statement comes back to haunt liberals that we should then liberalize open carry laws and the issuance of conceal carry permits to allow most law abiding citizens in California and LA to legally start packing a firearm to protect themselves like the rest of the states in the nation because that’s the way the wind is blowing in majority of the states in the nation today, especially after the terrorist attack in San Bernardino has shown, and the FBI has stated, that more attacks like that will happen here in the US at any time.

    You can’t say “I don’t see NYC privatizing Metro so LA should not” yet while the same time say “CA will show the rest of the nation how to do gun control.” That’s being selective based on political agendas. And it can be anything other than gun control, like banning shark fin soup or regulating how chicken eggs should be raised and every other stupid laws that have been passed by Democrats with the support of so called “liberals” here in CA and LA, that no other city or state in America has followed suit.

  2. “There is nothing stopping Metro from privatizing themselves? Really? Please give another example of a US transit agency doing this if you really think this.”

    Historically, privatized mass transit was the norm in the US, here in LA included. The P&E lines were built and operated privately by Henry Huntington, railroad barons built the transcontinental railroad and before Amtrak, passenger rail services were provided by companies like Union Pacific and Santa Fe. Why do you think the board game Monopoly (licensed by Parker Brothers in 1936) allows you to buy railroads? Because privatized railroads and owning railroad stocks were the norm back then.

    The sole reason the government stepped in to run them today was when the Great American Streetcar scandal occurred in many cities across the US that pushed privately operated intercity rail systems to bankruptcy and the municipal governments took over their operations. The shift from rail travel to air travel across longer distances also spurred the decline of long distance passenger rail services in which operations shifted to commercial and industrial hauling and those services where taken over by Amtrak.

    The common rationale up to recent years is that there is no way to make profit in passenger rail or mass transit so government has to keep it running it with taxes. People usually cited other US cities and European cities as examples. But no one cared to study Asian mass transit for whatever reason. But, thanks to the internet, all of these once perceived theories has been proven wrong with recent studies showing that Asia manages to make profit in mass transit and they run it much better under privatization, and have been doing so for decades.

    If the US ran mass transit privately and for profit once, it can still revert back to privatization (look at GM where it went from private control, to becoming mocked as “Government Motors” by the bailout, then back to privatization once again), by studying and incorporating the methods Asian transit corporations uses to bring it back to profitability and under private investment control, freeing ourselves for having them continuously run on taxes which can be put to better use elsewhere.

    You don’t need another example of another city in the US doing this, LA can do so alone. We pretty much do things that no other city or state has done anyway, like stringent smog checks and special blends in gasoline; re-privatizing Metro with Asian mass transit ideas are no different that LA can do on its own without copying the financial failures of the municipally owned transit systems in the rest of the US.

    And if you truly believe that mass transit is a good investment for the future of Los Angeles, you’d actually be for this as you’d then have a direct way to purchase and invest in Metro stocks and have a direct voice on how to best run Metro into profitability than the bureaucratic mess and wasteful spending of taxes that occurs today (i.e. focusing on freeway expansion projects, poor implementation of TAP, poor station designs, high fare evasion rates, continued reliance on an outdated fare model, poor land use, giving out free parking, all the while giving themselves raises and taxpayers being on the hook for their retirement and CalPers benefits).

    If Metro privatized, would you purchase Metro stocks as soon as they go IPO? I would, because I consider mass transit to be a investment that is worth paying for. I’d rather see Metro as a privatized entity that I can directly invest instead of having it paid for by taxes that government doesn’t know how to run it properly that it constantly begs for taxpayers for more money, asking for more fare hikes, or reducing services.

  3. “UberHop is Uber’s latest idea for killing transit”

    If the private sector can do a better job at providing mass transit than government run transit paid for by taxes, all the better. And all the more better when there are two or more private competitors as is the case with Uber and Lyft with tough competition to lower fares for the consumer.

    Not my problem that government takes so slow to upgrade their technology like using smartphone payments or moving to a more fairer, equitable distance based fare system that both Uber and Lyft rely on as their model to charge fares for their rides.

    If Metro feels this as a threat, nothing is stopping them to privatize themselves and go on a head-to-head competition with Uber and Lyft. Perhaps change will go faster at a privatized Metro once you get rid of all the BS bureaucratic redtape hurdles to get anything done.

    • There is nothing stopping Metro from privatizing themselves? Really? Please give another example of a US transit agency doing this if you really think this.

  4. In our own (draft) transportation plan, driverless cars get a section but they say that fully automated vehicles will not be used significantly until 2035. be

    I think this is a reasonable assumption, given the lengthening of the average age of a vehicle, 11.5 years and increasing. The next gamechanger will be an affordable electric vehicle that gets 200 miles or more in range like the Chevy Bolt, which many suburbanites will use due to low time of use electric rates and removal of range anxiety.