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:
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.
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.
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.
Categories: Transportation Headlines