How We Roll: is it really the dream of every bus rider to have a car?

We’re going to focus on one article today….

Despite billions invested, ridership on Southern California public transit continues to decline (LAT)

The Red/Purple Line Station at Union Station during the afternoon rush hour in early January. Photo by Steve Hymon/Metro.

The Red/Purple Line Station at Union Station during the afternoon rush hour in early January. Photo by Steve Hymon/Metro.

The transit-ridership-is-down story has been getting some media play lately. Los Angeles Times reporters Laura Nelson and Dan Weikel give the issue a much more thorough look today. As expected, Metro is heavily featured.

As we’ve discussed before, ridership at Metro and other transit agencies locally and nationally have declined in recent times — at Metro since 2014. Laura and Dan report that perhaps it’s not just a recent trend: ridership at the bus-only agency that preceded Metro exceeded 500 million boardings in the 1980s but in the last decade Metro’s annual boardings fell from 462 million in 2006 to 453 million in 2015. (FWIW, Metro had 437 million annual boardings in 2005 and some of the 1980s bus routes have been taken over by other bus agencies).

There will be a more detailed response coming from Metro. Also, Metro CEO Phil Washington will be talking about ridership and his response to the article in his CEO remarks and his State of the Agency report during Thursday’s Metro Board meeting. I’ll provide a heads up on Metro’s Twitter stream and Facebook page when Phil is about to begin his remarks. Audio from the meeting will be streaming live on the web — a link will appear on this page under the “audio” column once the Board meeting is underway about 9 a.m. We also plan to post video of Phil’s report.

In the meantime, I’ll provide a few thoughts — mostly ideas that we’ve discussed frequently in our daily headlines for the past several years. I think the real meat of the LAT article boils down to these two questions:

•Should we keep investing in building new transit despite these ridership trends?

•Are the only people who will reliably take transit those with no other choice?

As for the first question, Metro CEO Phil Washington is quoted in in the story as saying that he wants to build a transit system for the next century and that system will add riders to the system and reverse the current trend.

In terms of system expansion and for those unfamiliar with Metro, there are two Metro Rail projects soon to open: the Expo Line extension to Santa Monica (this spring) and the Gold Line extension to Azusa (March 5). Three other rail projects are under construction and forecast to open between 2019 and 2023: the Crenshaw/LAX Line, the Regional Connector and the Purple Line Extension to Wilshire/La Cienega. There are many other projects in the pipeline beyond that and Metro is in the midst of revising its long-range plan and considering a potential ballot measure to put before voters in November to fund more projects.

I do think this bears repeating: the Expo Line and Purple Line projects will bring the very first inch of rail transit to the job-rich and very congested Westside since the early 1950s. I think all the projects above are very worthy but I can’t stress that enough that the Westside has remained a glaring hole in our regional rail network.

As for the second bullet point, let’s start with an excerpt from the LAT — a quote from USC engineering professor James Moore, who has been a longtime critic of the way that Metro is expanding its rail system:

“It’s not the dream of every bus rider to arrive in a bus that was on time, air conditioned and clean, where a seat was available,” said Moore of USC. “It’s the dream of every bus rider to own a car. And as soon as they can afford one, that’s the first purchase they’ll make.”

According to the Southern California Assn. of Governments, the total number of miles driven in the region per day has almost returned to pre-recession levels, although the miles driven daily per person are declining.

Look folks. People like their cars. I like my car (which I often park at a Gold Line station). Our road network extends to almost every home and will take you almost anywhere — and parking is often cheap or free once you get there. Driving isn’t going anywhere.

But I seriously doubt that most people believe that we should stand pat on transit in our region because everyone loves the convenience of driving so much. Or that everyone on a bus really wants to drive.

Investing all our transportation eggs in one basket is a fool’s errand. We tried that approach in the latter half of the 20th century. L.A. County voters responded in 1980, 1990 and 2008 by increasing the local sales tax to build an alternative to sitting in traffic. That effort is still underway.

You think traffic stinks now? How do you think traffic would be with even a small fraction of Metro’s 453 million boardings behind the wheel of a car on your local freeway/arterial/residential street? ?

I don’t want to ignore the anecdotes and quotes in the LAT article from current or former riders about their experiences on Metro. Since his hiring last year, Metro CEO Washington has repeatedly said that he wants to make Metro the best transportation agency in the world. The obvious implication in that statement is that there’s room do things better.

As way of background, Metro has been aware of the ridership issue. Here is a Metro staff report with a focus on bus ridership  from last spring. And here is the latest Metro staff report on ridership issues and possible ways to attract new riders. This post discusses safety and security upgrades ongoing at Metro.

Your thoughts? Comment please. Try to keep your thoughts short and digestible.

Some reaction to the LAT story thus far on social media:

46 replies

  1. It turns out that New York is having the same problems with their bus system, despite instituting several Select Bus lines (similar to Metro Rapid). On the other hand, their subways are filled to capacity and the Metro North and Long Island commuter railroads are enjoying ever increasing patronage.

  2. I am majoring in urban development and the real problem with building public transportation in Los Angeles is the geography. Los Angeles is not like other congested cities like New York or Chicago where everyone works in one center and commutes back to the suburbs or downtown apartments and our rail system is so inconvenient in order to get on the blue line from the expo line you have to go all the way to Pico station that’s bad. Also no trains go to the populated west side where most people are commuting to and from. also many of the light rail trains have to stop at traffic signals which is very silly you might as well take the bus. Its not that people don’t want to ride the train in Los Angeles its that the trains are never going where people are living and to the suburbs and Los Angeles is mostly suburban and unless you live right next to a train you have to take a bus to a train which is discouraging. Furthermore allot of people still don’t live Central in Los Los Angeles where they work like in other cities so it doesn’t make sense to take the train unless you have to. But with the housing boom in downtown that should soon change as people are moving central to where they work so its convenient. So as traffic gets worse and more people live where they work ridership should start to increase but it has to be convenient and we have to build it quicker. The purple line to Westwood 2035 that’s ridiculous, Wilshire is one of the busiest streets in the country. We don’t have service to the airport that’s the biggest tragedy in our rail system and tats also one of the busiest places in L.A and its the 3rd busiest airport in the country. We are missing all of the important places where people are going and the projects take too long.

    • Only a fraction of the people in L.A. live or work Downtown or on the Westside (pop. 500,000). What L.A. needs is a frequent, comprehensive Regional Rail network serving all five counties and suburban centers. This would provide access to the Metro network, reverse and suburb to suburb commuters.

  3. Here’s the problem. I rode the bus almost my whole adult life in LA. It’s only within the last few years that it’s become first unpleasant and now completely undesirable to ride a bus in LA. First there’s a problem with homeless people who smell like sewers. I could have dealt with that. But as a white middle-class person, after a lifetime of riding the bus without any issues, I suddenly found myself the target of racially motivated attacks perpetrated by people who are clearly mentally ill. This happened just once, but over and over again in the last few years. Always on the bus. Never on the subway or trains. One time, the driver pulled the bus over to the side of the road and made the passenger get off of the bus. The verbal abuse was so loud and obnoxious that the driver could hear it all the way up front.

    I’m in a wheelchair, so I can’t just get up and move. So I carry a music player and headphones with me and I just ignore the verbal abuse. But it’s gotten to the point where it’s not even worth it to me anymore to try and ride the bus, and with my Access Services ID card, I can ride the bus for free.

  4. There are a couple of points I’d like to make about the Purple Line that I haven’t seen mentioned anywhere.

    It will travel in a much straighter line than the Red Line. Which reduces the subway travel time.

    Its further away from a parallel freeway compared to the other major Metro transit only corridors. This means that it will mainly compete with cars that are traveling on surface streets and not on a parallel freeway. Whether you drive during the peak hours or off peak hours you have to stop at traffic signals traveling on streets. The subway train can hit high speeds and only has to stop for 30 seconds or less at each station. This means that the greater the distance traveled on the Purple Line, the more competitive it will be with driving during peak or off peak hours. Which is likely to make it much more attractive to use for people who drive compared to the other major Metro transit only corridors which are close to parallel freeways.

    Also the Gold Line extension to Azusa and Expo Line phase II will likely have a much higher proportion of ridership that is not transit dependent compared to the current average rail passenger.

  5. It’s all about choice. No one wants to take cars away, but giving the public choice is what it is all about.

  6. One of the major issues as well is overall etiquette of some commuters. Tensions can be really high, and for an experienced rider like myself, I know a few areas to stay out of peoples way, and to enter and exit the system as quickly as possible. Everyone cant memorize which doors will drop them right at the up escalator, but just yesterday, I was on a packed train and needed to shuffle forward to prepare to exit. Someone refused to move from in front of the door just because they simply wanted to stand their ground, and told us “you guys can go around me because i’m not moving..” Really? We missed a transfer to a 740 bus by about 12 seconds.. (The 740 Driver pulled away from the stop only to hit a red light at 111th st; Go figure).

    Now this is discouraging for two types of riders: 1 The experienced ones that would not want to deal with the lesser educated or ignorant riders that clog the system and Tte second type would be the “Lets try it, lets do it” type that would miss that 740, and have it ruin their trip. Meanwhile uber (or is it Lyft) is tempting me on the Metro App…

    Metro needs to do a much much better job and training people to get out of the way. Don’t block exits, dont sit on the steps, Dont wear your backpack for crying out loud, dont stand where the bikes, strollers, and luggage belong, your bike should not be in the aisle or across the doors (something that makes me a bit anxious at times). If someone’s late, unfortunately you cant hold the doors for them, use one seat, please don’t put your bag there. and if someone asks to sit down, ya cant be rude about it! People tend to camp out on metro a bit, and its frustrating. But again, Metro’s security does not enforce these things.

  7. I’d like to see some hard facts that back up the statement that everyone who rides the bus would drive a car if they could afford it. It certainly is not true for me. What’s more, living in Koreatown, I often see little old ladies from Korea (and elsewhere) engaged in enthusiastic conversation with each other as they ride the bus. The laughter can be annoying, but you learn to put up with it.

  8. those who criticize transit don’t understand the importance of seeing all forms of transportation as having one goal and that is to move people throughout the country as fast and efficiently as possible. Metro could use improvement but I think that metro does a decent job, giving its size, to provide exceptional service. There definitely is always room for improvement even in today’s “worlds best transit agency”. No matter what there will always be someone complaining because their particular needs arent met… as long as metro sticks to TRULY moving people quickly and safely… there will be plenty of choice riders, like myself, who will come. Now for an issue that I’ve talked about before. a simple way of speeding up the orange line is by not asking bus drivers to slow down or stop at stations to allow time to catch up. I understand on time arrivals are important but so is my time. I see it as time wasted when these bus drivers slow to a crawl between stations just to keep the lines 90+% on time arrival stats. It would be nice to try out rapid service stopping only at the busiest stations. 🙂 that said i’d like to say thanks for actually involving us metro. I know it hasn’t always been that way and I appreciate the fact that a government agency is actually reaching out to make things better for the community as apposed to just putting something out there and expecting everyone to just deal with it. <3

  9. I used to solely rely on transit when I was working in Santa Monica. Now that I work in Pasadena, and have a car, I use the car 4 days a week (3 work, 1 leisure) and use Transit 3 days a week (2 work, 1 leisure). My commute from Silver Lake (West of Sunset Junction) to East Pasadena (Colorado/Rosemead/Foothill Blvds area) via Transit is 1hr 15min with perfect timed transfers (oh how this isn’t often the case though). My commute by Car: 30 min (35 min when I have to step to fill up). It will cost me $3.50 for a round trip commute via Transit, $4.00 to fill up at the Tank (excludes maintenance of course). So why should I continue to take transit when my commute only takes 1/3 of that by Transit, WHEN transfers are perfect.

    Also, why is it that Transit sucks so bad in the suburbs?? I am a reverse-peak commuter, and the only thing Metro is doing up to this point is giving me a reason to keep driving my car and tolerate the cost than rely on unreliable bus service in the suburbs. To be honest, I feel like the only reason why I still use Transit is because owning a car also sucks at times as well.

    There are also still instances where regardless of how horrible transit still is, I will still choose transit over driving, and that’s when I have to occasionally go to Santa Monica for school, because the traffic is that bad (somewhat looking forward to Expo).

    Lastly on this rant, why hasn’t Metro figured out how to match the transfers on Red and Purple Line at night?? 40 mins just to get from Wilshire/Western to Vermont/Santa Monica. I know Maintenance needs to get done but get your act together. It shouldn’t be that difficult for there these trains to meet and people can continue on their journey. If it’s really going to take 40 min for a 3 mile trip after 9pm I’m definitely better off using uberPool and lyftLine and just lose the extra $4 to be home in 10 min.

  10. Is Logical my station Green line Norwalk is full by 7.20 Am so is Lakewood station . this is not new at least this situatuion has been going on for the past ten years, one time I received comment on Facebook from a university student that was in a group conducting a study for the Metro advising me to take a bike to go to the station, is nice but in real life if you are a mother or a father with to kids to drop at the school and then commute you need free parking available all the time, the system has to be tailored for Los Angeles, I remember when they ban bicycles on the Metro during rush hours just to reverse that decision like two months later. I am curious how many metro executives are using the Metro for their daily commute. Finally they put a roof over the Rosa Parks Station and more lights, people appreciate and react positively to those environmental stimulus, late at night trains should be more frequent and a in general faster. 18 year old and younger should be able to by a day pass at the vending machines at a very reduced price like 25 cents a day that will introduce the new generations of Angelenos to mass transit. Metro need a change, just using common sense.

  11. Should we keep investing in building new transit despite these ridership trends? – My answer is NO. If the ridership continually goes down then I don’t think it’s a good idea.

    Are the only people who will reliably take transit those with no other choice? – My answer is NO. I hate traffic problems, and in LA there’s constantly traffic problems. I choose to take Metro most of the time. But only at times that I can get there AND back reasonably. Otherwise I have to drive. So put your money into longer hours of operation if you’re going to spend money. I can’t take a bus somewhere in the evening or on Sunday, and just be there for the rest of the night with nowhere to go.

  12. There’s are other ways people can think you know. Everyone has a different idea on how to get around.

    Some might choose to get around with a scooter or a motorcycle instead of a car, Uber, or Metro. Has anyone thought of that?

  13. Many people like myself do own cars and ride Metro on a regular basis.

    While I do not ride transit to work, I often take advantage of it on weekend trips to downtown and beyond.

    The ridership numbers will all be tied to two factors. (1) The cost of driving including gas and parking. and (2) The pleasantness (or lack thereof) of the transit experience.

    When gas prices go up or people see signs for $40 special event parking near the convention center, more people will look for alternatives. It has always been that way.

    For those who live near trains or busways, transit is often a convenient option, but for those who need to connect and wait for a second or third mass transit mode, public transit will only be a last resort. There is a trade off for those who drive to park and ride lots and their ridership is often tied to how safe they feel about leaving there car in that location.

    Recently, as bus shuttles replaced trains due to maintenance and construction in Little Tokyo, those riders who had other options left mass transit.

    On the flip side, the Silver Line extension to San Pedro has quickly attracted many new transit riders. I don’t know if there are solid statistics yet, but I have seen a huge increase now that riders can board a bus in San Pedro and ride to Downtown and even to Cal-State LA and El Monte without ever needing to connect.

    A few years ago Metro eliminated 1 bus service to downtown from San Pedro 7 days a week and many people left public transit and found other options rather than wait up to one hour for a connecting bus.

    The problem is that Metro cannot make mass transit convenient for everyone.

    I walk one block to a stop where I can board a bus and be Downtown about 45 minutes later but if I had to walk 10 blocks to that stop or drive to a park and ride lot, I would not use public transit nearly as often as I do.

  14. Sorry but it looks like an tacky in door swap meet. That being said, exactly where would the MTA put all the retail space and related support? The stations are designed for ease of getting to and from the platforms in a unrestricted way.

    A big reason for the fall in ridership is there is still a anti passenger mindset left over from the former LACTC. That was the agency that constantly threatened the former RTD with withholding subsidies if they did not cut back on improvement to service. The LACTC always believed and I believe at the MTA still does that improvements to service will result in higher ridership/ added subsidies, that takes away moneys from their other pet projects. The agency currently has a surplus of buses being held in storage at places like the closed Division 12 in Long Beach in addition to the buses slated for sale.

  15. The stats used by the LA Times have been pointed out as slightly misleading. The peak in riders from 1985 was the result of 5 years of extremely low fares that were approved at the time. Riders subsequently declined significantly after that. On that note, I wonder how experimental Metro is with regards to its fare structure.

  16. It’s hard to rely solely on public transportation when it doesn’t really run late night & even the ones that do aren’t reliable. I can travel to work during rush hour & beat traffic, but when I get off at 2am the subway doesn’t run & the buses that are supposed to run every hour (which can be harsh if you just missed the last one by a couple minutes) sometimes never show up.
    I hate driving in general, but it beats sitting outside for hours in the middle of the night for a bus that never comes.

    • Shout out to M.J.! (Fist bump). Sunset and Vermont used to be my home station. Its simple, people are lazy. Its so nice to come from K-Town to the Public House. I actually over Christmas vacay caught Purple to Red (Coulda took the Vermont Bus if needed) to see The Big Short. The Misses and I always go to TCL for the 3D flicks via Metro too.

      This past weekend, I’d come from Hollywood with a friend on the Red Line, and we’d arrived at Wilshire/Vermont. He assumed we’d walk from there, but no, the Purple Line transfer there can be seamless, and it was! Wilshire Vermont in my opinion is an underrated piece of infrastructure in Los Angeles.

      I was with another friend once, and we’d finished dinner at Fat Burger Wilshire/Vermont. It was time to leave so I puiled the app up and noticed if we left right then, we’d be at the train when it pulled up, and like clockwork we were. Now this particular friend is always telling me about how Paris headways are so much better and all that jazz. Wel,l when we got to the elevator, I could hear a Redline pulling up to go east, then our purple line came once we got down, while a Red Line to Noho was about five minutes behind that one. Once we finally got to Normandie, another purple line was headed to Union. I looked at him and said, “How many trains have we seen or heard in the last ten minutes?” Being the Law student he is, he had some sort of ignorant rationalization and still refuses to ride consistently based on a few poor experiences. Some recent, and others that are from 20 years ago.

  17. If you build a system which doesn’t take people where they want to go, when they want to go, in a civilized manner, no one should be surprised when the only riders left are those who are desperately transit dependent.

    • People don’t go Downtown, or to Hollywood, or Pasadena. People don’t go to Long Beach, Santa Monica, Universal Studios, Koreatown. People certainly won’t go to the miracle mile, Beverly Hills, LAX, Century City, Westwood. None of those are business centers, tourist areas, or have/are near local haunts. And I’m only mentioning some of the major points along Metro rail that are currently or will soon be accessible. Forget the neighborhoods like Los Feliz where I live in happily near the Vermont/Sunset station and that’s crisscrossed by many frequent bus lines. Ugh, there is always someone like Rich Gordon on here who’ll make weak, throw away comments. In my experience, people who talk like this have never taken metro or have done so only once.

      BTW, I’m a regular rider , age 34, who chooses metro over my car. I’m not desperately dependent on transit and ride in a pretty civilized manner. I took my friend out to Ruths Chris in Pasadena for his birthday just this last Tuesday using the red line and gold line. We had a great time and even went to Whole foods afterwards to pick up some wine before getting back on the train. I riders like me need to speak up more.

      • You’re right, the Phantom is a daily transit rider and doesn’t go to any of those places very often (except Downtown to work). No reason to go any of those places. Tourists go to Disneyland. Plenty of local haunts in other, less congested and pricey areas. Very few people here live your lifestyle …

  18. I intentionally gave up my car almost a year ago and have enjoyed not paying for parking, gas, car payment, maintenance, citations and all the associated costs of driving. Having the great pleasure of living and traveling all over the world, I realized how detrimental cars are to urban environs and I’ve been a big advocate of Metro ever since.

    I sympathize with Metros uphill battle, a unique situation infused with car dependency and car adoration, but I think there’s much more they can do. It’s hard not to agitate the beast of motor enthused because traffic is already such a huge point of contention, but as many have said I think the priority should be SPEED as the main incentive.

    Speed: Add bus only lanes to major commercial corridors. I recall a common complaint (insincere) with regards to Bus Only lanes was how they would jeopardize emergency vehicles response times by further reducing from road space… what if bus-only lanes doubled as emergency vehicle lanes when responding to emergencies? I’d imagine that would actually improve response times and address one of the biggest concerns with their implementation.

    Safety: As a younger, athletic male, there has been a few times when even I felt unsafe or uncomfortable and I lived in the bronx for 5 years. It’s not a serious deterrent for me, but I’ve never felt more uncomfortable on transit than in LA, less comfortable than while riding in foreign countries where I don’t even speak the language. Solution: Have the fare inspectors roam trains more often instead of having them stand outside. If fare-dodging is really a problem, install more effective turnstyles

    Cleanliness: People like to complain about the smell or debris aboard trains and buses, but I bet they aren’t frequent riders. I honestly think outside of Milan and Turin, LA has some of nicest equipment I’ve ever ridden. (at least for new buses and trains) It wouldn’t hurt to have the train operator run through with a broom after every pass though..

  19. I have both driven a car and taken mass transit for years. For short trips or personal trips, I prefer the car, and my wife and I travel together. For long commutes to and from work (60 miles each way for me), I much prefer mass transit. It’s MUCH less stressful than dealing with traffic. I vote for more transit options.

  20. “Investing all our transportation eggs in one basket is a fool’s errand.”
    Agree totally. I won’t drive to DTLA (or DTSM) unless the calculated travel time just doesn’t work out.

    Don’t agree that light rail extensions are ‘white elephants’. They are usually the most predictable part of your mass transit trip. Improving the bus segments requires testing some new ideas.

  21. Uber and Lyft’s pricing has become cheaper that when it comes to everyday transit needs like going to the grocery store, it’s starting to be competitive with public transit.

    Did you know fares are now sub $1.00 per mile, and Uber and Lyft is now competing with each other in $0.80/mile range? Why should I pay $1.75 to ride the bus if going short distances when Uber and Lyft does the same task for almost half as a Metro ride?

    • Are you some sort of uber lobbyist? There’s still a minimum charge for both ride-hailing services and they’re 3x the price of a metro fare

  22. Uber/Lyft, cheap gas, Drivers Licences for immigrants, maintenance/delays all account for the decrease in ridership. Uber/Lyft are kinda friend/foe because they can fill in the last mile/first mile but they can also just bypass the trip all together. Bus service has always been bad but rail service has been bad lately with all the maintenance, The Red Line service at night is TERRIBLE, Blue Line service on the weekends has been disrupted for 6 months. Metro is pushing people away with bad service.

    • Honestly if metro would hair let up with the constant maintenance at the WORST of times, metro rail would be 50% better.

  23. I think ride-sharing companies like Uber and Lyft also contribute to the decline since in most cases for an extra few bucks (especially with Uber Pool/Lyft Line being so cheap) it’ll take you to your destination without the wait/crowds/potential danger or smells. I am car-less by choice and rely heavily on the Metro but it gets tricky when trains/buses are infrequent after a certain hour or I miss them by a minute. In those cases I have to use an app!

  24. I enjoy riding Metro. I was incredibly stoked when it began the late night weekend service, I certainly began to ride the red line a lot more thanks to that. Now I’m looking forward to taking it from Los Feliz all the way to Santa Monica this summer.

    • The late night service will probably go away soon. Isn’t Metro already looking at reducing frequency to 20 minutes at night ?

  25. In terms of teleology, we could also discuss the fact that Metro’s transit expansion mandate is essentially to increase the percentage of people taking transit in order to alleviate travel conditions for drivers. This will undoubtedly show in the final product, and is different from the intent of a 19th century system like NY’s, or even a theoretical 21st century system that might prioritize the reduction of GHGs and therefore not continue to widen and construct freeways and give individuals the prerogative to choose unlimited destruction of the environment.

  26. Answer to the question in the headline: NO. It is not my dream to own a car. It is my dream to be able to get to my destinations in a safe and timely manner, and (since this is my dream, after all) to have more of those destinations within walking distance from where I live.

  27. I would take metro more frequently but it takes me 2-3 times longer to get to work vs driving my car even with traffic.

  28. Please invest more in improving existing bus routes in the core urban area, rather than on white elephants like the Gold Line extension to Azusa. This could include bus-only lanes, stronger transit signal priority, and FUNCTIONING next-arrival signs on Wilshire Blvd. and additional Rapid routes. The buses should also have cameras that take pictures of and cite drivers that violate bus-only lanes. Also, convert HOV lanes to HOT lanes with bus access along the 405.

  29. Increasing ridership isn’t the only goal of transit investments. Another goal is making things better for existing riders. I’d bet most riders who compare LA County’s transit system today to the RTD bus system would say that today’s system is more useful.

    Local governments need to step up to the plate and allow denser mixed-use development along bus routes and near rail stops. Cities also need to stop requiring so much off-street parking. Metro and cities also need to invest in more bus shelters.

    Maybe the next sales tax should focus more on improving bus service frequency and keeping fares cheap. Or maybe Measure R should be redesigned to redirect funding from freeways to bus operations.

    • Actually, when you compare system maps of, say, 2003 (back when transit planning was done downtown and not transferred over to the service sectors) the area covered by transit in Los Angeles County was greater. You had routes like the 107, 126, 168, and 225/226 in suburban areas which have now been cancelled or turned into peak hour only shells of themselves. But these were relatively low ridership runs provided for coverage only. However, many transit riders may make that occasional trip to Manhattan Beach but now can’t. Once they buy their car they use that to substitute for all trips.

  30. Increasing transit service can be a solution to attract riders, but I think discouraging people from using cars are more effective. Is it possible to increase the cost of driving? In the meantime, the money gathered can be used to build more transit infrastructures and speed up transit projects. Increasing cost of driving will definitely make driving less attractive. Meanwhile, the increased funding can be used to build a more useful transit system

  31. Metro makes it difficult at every turn. The fare system and TAP card is incomprehensible for newbies. Signage is awful. Try finding the next train to Long Beach at 7/Fig. Try finding the next Orange Line bus to NoHo at Warner Center. Speak a foreign language? Good luck. The new trains are slow, stop for red lights. And we spend a fortune for new tracks, only to see them sit for months as empty trains “test” them and one guy works to finish the terminal in SaMo.

    • This is so true. Many people’s first experience is a poor one. The buses are uncomfortable and late, the trains are slow and dirty, and Metro’s customer service is really poor. Not all of the time, but the bad stands out more than the good. There are a lot of people that still don’t feel safe riding; and I’m a transit supporter but can’t really put any rose colored glasses on homelessness at my stations and on trains, sleepers on cars of the red line, pan handlers, performances, etc. Then to come above, have my TAP card checked by a deputy or security who should be below clearing the nuisances. To add insult, his TAP validator doesn’t work, I’ve missed a transfer and have now added 15 minutes to my trip, Because of deputy Tight Shirt.

      Once the general public can feel rewarded by taking metro as if it is the right thing to do and not an exercise, people will make the choice maybe. I also think metro needs to do things like add wifi to buses, so time is not wasted, work can be conducted, but not at the expense of our data. I’ve heard this from a few paralegals in Century City who said the guys they’ve worked for tried expo to the affect of: “I parked and rode expo when I had a hearing downtown, but by the time i got to USC I called a cab since I would have been late.” That is the reputation, and people don’t think twice rating metro as poor when someone says “How’d it go?”

      I get irritated when people feel sorry for me because I take transit. That is not my fault, but Metro’s.

      I’ll always ride and support its growth, but for the first time in a long time if ever, I am thinking to myself, “I need another option.”, because metro is not helping me live my life comfortably, and it seems irresponsible at times.

      I might be getting a bike in a few weeks. I did the math and I can get to my office faster that way then my current situation dealing with metro, so I want to test it out. It wont cost 130 bucks with my pass and freeway up fee either. I’ll only need it to be reliable on rainy days, and that does not make me feel confident.

      I always say this, but I hope Metro can get it right.

  32. Can someone explain the chart in the LAT that asks “Did Metro’s ridership peak in the ’80s?” It looks like the claim is ridership is down from 2006 to 2015, but honestly it looks pretty flat to me in the last decade, and you could say ridership has increased if you measure from 2005 to 2015.

    Flat isn’t great, but its better than a decline. Could someone also annotate this chart with when new rail lines have opened? The first segment of the gold line opened more than a decade ago, so only the Eastside extension of the gold line and the first phase of the Expo Line are new since 2006. Other investment is still under development.