How We Roll, Dec. 16: Anaheim streetcar doubts, new transit commuter benefits


Anaheim officials spar over streetcar project (KPCC)

Anaheim’s proposed 3.2-mile streetcar project that will connect the Anaheim Regional Transportation Intermodal Center (ARTIC) to Disneyland is facing opposition and calls to cancel the project just as the environmental review is underway. The debate took place at the Orange County Transportation Authority (OCTA) board meeting on Monday. An ad hoc committee recommended that the project be scrapped before more bread is spent on it.

The committee notably includes Anaheim Mayor Tom Tait, a vocal critic of the project. Not explicitly stated as part of their concern, but perhaps one of them, is the one-year-old ARTIC’s disappointing ridership (the station is planned to serve high-speed rail but that’s still years away). Ultimately, at the request of other members, the OCTA board voted to wait for more information to make a decision.

U.S. transit commuters just got an early gift for 2016 (CityLab)

Thanks to the new tax deal passed by Congress earlier this month, transit riders will be eligible to receive up to $255 a month in IRS commuter benefits in 2016 — the same amount allotted to those who drive and park at their office. The new benefit levels the playing field for both drivers and transit users. In previous years, transit users could only receive up to $130 a month in pre-tax benefits.

There’s no question additional benefits and incentives for transit riders is a good thing, but the real question the article leaves open is whether equal commuter benefits (or “commuter benefits parity”) for both transit riders and drivers helps alleviate traffic congestion. Excerpt:

The best available evidence suggests that benefits parity won’t do much to change commuter mode choice. Research by Andrea Hamre and Ralph Buehler has found that when companies offer workers both parking and transit benefits, more people drive alone than when companies offer no commuter benefits at all. The lure of free or very cheap parking is so great, especially when paired with the convenience of driving in most U.S. cities, that few employees make the switch to bus or rail.

So what might be the solution? A benefit disparity. Dun, dun, dun.

Seattle first U.S. city to give Uber, other contract drivers power to unionize (Seattle Times)

The Emerald City is once again is in the ride-share spotlight this week. Fresh off last week’s launch of Uber’s new bus-like service, UberHop, Seattle’s city council voted on Monday to approve the framework allowing Uber drivers to unionize. It’s the first such law for ride-share drivers in the country and may have impacts on other app-based for-hire services.

Currently federal law gives workers categorized as employees bargaining power and other wage and working condition protections. For-hire and app-dispatch companies like Uber categorize their drivers as independent contractors. While the pols in D.C. contemplate how best to categorize this new and growing workforce, Seattle officials took matters into their own hands in hopes of benefiting the city’s approximately 10,000 drivers.

It makes sense, considering Seattle was one of the first cities to increase its minimum wage to $15. But the new unionization law didn’t pass without dispute and there’s no doubt there will be more battles ahead. Here’s Uber’s take:

Uber and Lyft opposed the ordinance and argued that O’Brien’s proposal violates federal labor and antitrust laws, meaning the city likely will be sued. “Uber is creating new opportunities for many people to earn a better living on their own time and their own terms,” the company said in a statement Monday.

This particular article balances the reactions of Uber drivers and suggests that reactions are mixed amongst them. We’ll also have to wait and see how the new law will affect ride-share fares.

Recent HWRs:

Dec. 15more on the bus service changes in L.A. County

Dec. 14: how will the Paris climate deal change our everyday lives in L.A. County?

Dec. 11: will we ever have a truly car-free city?

Dec. 10: hey, so when is the Expo Line to SaMo opening?

Dec. 9: Uber’s latest biggish idea, health clinics at transit stops?

You can find Joe on Twitter @joseph_lem.

5 replies

  1. The cities of Anaheim, Garden Grove and Santa Ana needs to work together to get a streetcar line that goes from the ARTIC to Disneyland, continue south into Garden Grove where all the hotels are located and continue southeast into Santa Ana into Downtown and the Santa Ana Train Station…Also, Disney should contribute some $$$ since the last stop in Anaheim will be at a point where Disneyland come open a new entrance gate. Its to bad that the conservatives in the OC don’t believe in public transportation.

  2. Metro can certainly extend beyond LA County lines, but in doing so, there has to be some form of fare reform required so that if one wants to do a very long trip to another county, the fare price has to be higher for that longer travel.

    We can’t continue to have riders pay the same price to ride Metro without distinguishing them whether they’re just going to the neighborhood supermarket that’s only within a 5 mile activity radius or someone else taking advantage of subsidizes provided by short distance riders who traveles 20, 30, or even 40 miles from OC, Ventura, or San Bernardino counties into DTLA.

    The average Angeleno travels only about 3 miles on a Metro bus and 12 miles on Metro Rail. It really shouldn’t cost $1.75 just to do short trips which is what the majority of Metro riders in LA do more frequently and it really shouldn’t be priced at $1.75 to go from Thousand Oaks to DTLA, which I doubt many people do to begin with. A shorter trip should be priced at 50 cents one way and a longer trip should be at least $5.00 one way.

    So, Line 460 could go all the way to ARTIC, but the fare has to be set that a passenger riding Line 460 for shorter trips pays less and another passenger riding Line 460 all the way from DTLA to ARTIC should pay a lot more.

    And there’s no reason why this can’t be done with TAP today. Load up TAP card with cash value, TAP in, TAP out, fare deducted based on miles traveled. It’s a simple concept that has proven to work on bus and rail systems from Australia, New Zealand, Europe and Asia with Youtube videos and tons of Google image searches to prove that it works and the technology is already available today, has been working for over a decade, and there’s nothing space age or zowwie about this concept.

  3. Maybe Metro Line 460 should serve the ARTIC in order to boost ridership to the other transit operators at the Center. Currently, the problem is that none of the transit operators at the Center is offering frequent and reliable services (less than 15 per buss or train). Only Line 460 is running frequent service in the area during ;peak hours. Only Line 460 is making a direct connection to the Green Line Station.. Line 460 can run on different streets in order to avoid duplication with OCTA and Anaheim Transit.

    • No, it’s already stupid as it is that LA Metro is providing services to OC tand Ventura to begin with. There’s a reason why LA Metro’s official name is Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transit Authority – it’s main purpose is to serve the needs of LA County residents therefore it’s paid for with LA County taxpayer dollars.

      This is an OC issue and there’s no need for Metro to butt into a different county’s problem. Why should we give OC residents an one-way ride for $1.75 all the way into LA at our expense?

      There already is a separate agency that covers the needs of southland counties, and that’s Metrolink. Metro should stay the heck away from OC affairs. We already have one guy here who posts often, boasting and feels entitled to a cheap fares and free parking all the way from Fountain Valley (which is in OC, not a LA County resident, doesn’t contribute any taxes to LA County) just so he can go to concert events in DTLA at the expense of LA taxpayers.

      • There is no service from Fountain Valley on Metro so that is impossible. Also, it is perfectly fine for visitors and others in SoCal to ride the system even if they don’t live in LA County. Would you rather they clog up the roads and foul the air with a vehicle?