HWR: is our region ready to make transit part of our lives?

In today’s HWR, more on transit ridership and building our future transit system, using GPS to get lost in Iceland and things to read whilst transiting…

How We Roll’s Super Bowl prediction: Carolina 45, Denver 10. One quarterback is mobile and has a healthy arm. His team will win and win big. The Panthers, btw, are playing the Rams in Los Angeles next season. The Rams other home opponents are the Cardinals, Seahawks, 49ers (boooo!), Falcons, Bills and Dolphins. They’re other “home” game is against the Giants in London.

Things to read about the NFL whilst transiting:

An unhappy visit to “Super Bowl City” in downtown S.F. Shocker.

•Willie Woods made the most memorable play of Super Bowl I and now he can’t remember it, perhaps due to head trauma. My three cents; if the NFL was serious about preventing brain injuries, the Steelers’ hit on the Bengals’ Giovanni Bernard wouldn’t be legal.

Great interview with former Vikings coach Bud Grant, who at 88 years young wore short sleeves to the coin toss at the Vikings recent playoff game. In subzero temperatures.

•Eighteen of 20 ‘analysts’ at NFL.com pick the Panthers to win Super Bowl 50.

Art of Transit: 


From the Dept. of Transit-Oriented Sports:

The Kings may not have won last night, but I recall another late Martinez goal of similar ilk…


We need to make transit part of our lives (USC Metrans) 

There’s a lot to digest in this post about ridership on Metro from USC professor Lisa Schweitzer. I encourage everyone to read it. Lisa covers a lot of ground, including interesting ideas about how the FTA can better require development near stations, the need for a good bus network to connect to rail transit, more strategic use of free transit fares to promote ridership and the virtues of trying transit for those not dependent on transit.


And finally, if Angelenos want transit to work, they have to do more than just add a few pennies to their sales taxes and cut ribbons in front of new trains. They have to get on the system and make it a part of their lives. I don’t think it’s possible that transit can outcompete the car until the auto environment gets really miserable, and LA is a long way from that.

People don’t have to give up their cars to make a difference; taking transit a couple times a week, for lunch, to get to work, to go on a weekend outing with the kids—those are small changes that can bring people onto the system. If it is going to be a public system, the public has to be on it. Taking transit is a virtue. It’s good for the city. And it’s good for public life.

And yeah, it’s probably going to take extra time, you’ll have to walk a bit, and chances are, you’ll associate with people you wouldn’t normally. Suck it up and get on the buses and trains if you want better numbers here. It’s on Metro, but it’s also on all of us, too, to make the system we’ve been building into what it could be.

I think the personal virtue argument is always interesting and often overlooked. If-you-just-take-transit-once-a-week is something I’ve heard said by elected officials many times. I think it’s a reasonable request, especially in the era of climate change — generally speaking, taking transit rather than driving alone is a way to lower your greenhouse gas emissions.

I suppose the question is what are things that government and transit agencies could do to help persuade people to make that choice?

Let’s remember: Dick Cheney was chastised greatly when he said “Conservation may be a sign of personal virtue but it is not a sufficient basis for a sound, comprehensive energy policy.” I’ve always been torn about that quote. On the one hand, it’s cynical. On the other hand, perhaps it’s a reminder that people will conserve if given good products that help them do so.

Lisa’s USC colleagues also weigh in on ridership with a variety of opinions:

Sandip Chakrabarti argues that when it comes to building rail, it’s all about building the right service in the right place at the right time.

Genevieve Giuliano writes about Metro’s ridership numbers and how some economic trends may be impacting it, while also making some observations about rail transit and politics in our county.

James Moore writes that busways are a better alternative and the need for more accountability when it comes to those who make decisions about what transit gets built.

Marlon Boarnet calls for an overhaul in the way that we fund transit and transportation — saying those who pollute more should pay more.

Transit ridership, the obvious and the complex (Frank Gruber) 

Long-time transit observer and Santa Monican Frank Gruber provides an overview of stories written lately about ridership. He also debunks the view that buses are as good as trains, pointing out that his rush hour bus ride on the 534 will be significantly quicker when the Expo Line opens to SaMo (in fact, the Expo Line will replace the 534 between SaMo and Culver City).

We sort of made the same point yesterday when looking at KPCC’s experiment to see which was quicker between Union Station and the Santa Monica Pier — a bus, a bike or a car. The bike won and the bus came in last at 95 minutes. With some planning ahead of time, a rider should be able to get from Union Station to the Pier in about an hour or so using the Red/Purple Line and the Expo Line.

Taking in Locol, Roy Choi’s new Watts restaurant (LAObserved)


Nice piece looking at the new eatery in Watts that’s also a short walk from the Blue Line’s 103rd Street/Watts Tower Station — at 1950 E. 103rd Street, east of the station. Here’s Locol’s website.

That’s a screen grab of the menu above. Anyone tried their chili yet? As a proud native of Cincinnati, I’m always looking for the next great chili bowl.

GPS mix-up brings wrong turn, and celebrity, to an American in Iceland (NYT)

The traveler picked up a rental car at the Reykjavik airport and typed Laugarvegur instead of Laugavegur. Five hours later, he realized that he was about 270 miles away from his Reykjavik airport. FWIW, they have these things called travel books and maps that may be worth a glance before traveling to a foreign country.

On the other hand, further proof why one day the apes will rule. Dr. Zaius would never make this kind of mistake.


Recent How We Rolls: 

Feb. 4: would the Expo Line have won KPCC’s bike-car-bus race between DTLA and DTSM?

Feb. 3: will bus-only lanes rise again?

Feb. 2: the hills are alive with more talk about transit ridership.

Jan. 29: ridership, bike share and the Delhi car ban.

Jan. 25: new Board motion calls for studying rail line to new Rams stadium in Inglewood.


7 replies

  1. British Airways headquarters staff based at Heathrow Airport were told that their car park pass would not be valid for one day every 2 weeks. On that day, they would have to car-share, use transit, work from home or find another alternative.
    That cut traffic by 10%.

  2. One of the issues is that psychologically not enough people do not feel rewarded by riding. Even if a car is more expensive, or a bike will get them their faster (referencing the recent Union Station Race). People also do not blend the modes they use enough. Yes, people park and ride, but once the lot is full, there is a slim chance they try the next station’s lot.

    A bike may get you there faster, but the physical exertion has an impact on how people feel when they get to their destination. Hygiene also plays a factor since you’s sweat. Metro is a longer ride that usually involves waiting, but many do not use their time in transit wisely. There is also no guarantee that someone will get a seat. Working on an ipad becomes useless, and phone conversations are a faux pas, even when conducting business. The winner becomes the car. Reason being is that it involves almost no physical exertion, and yes, our city is designed for cars. There is also this second destination law if you will. People will tell me, “I don’t take transit because I’ve got Costco after work.” or there is that lawyer, doctor, or politician that simply cant fully conduct business by riding the subway. If you’re office is in Santa Monica, and you’ve got a hearing at LAX Courthouse, they’d never take transit there.

    There are so many dynamics where people don’t, wont, and cant conduct their lives properly to feel that its easy. I wonder if L.A. will ever get to a point where a journalist or actor would take transit like they would in NY (excuse the cliche NY reference please, but its true.)

    Majority of riders do it because they have no other option and thats the way they’ve always got around. You’ve also got things like license suspensions or disabilities that force people to look at that option because they have to.

  3. I’d love to make Transit a part of my life. However, it is just not feasible with my work commute. There are not many options from San Pedro to Huntington Beach/Westminster.

  4. For the issue of making people use transit, good luck. There are just too many places in LA where transit does not serve the needs of the public well. Besides, I bet you most of the politicians, bureaucrats, and even the liberal lobbyists themselves who come up with such an idea don’t do it themselves either. They may do it for one day as a publicity stunt, but you know they’re not going to give up their own cars forever and give up their entitled bennies like reserved parking spaces, free car washes and taxpayer paid chaffeurs.

    For people to really get around LA without the car, we need to re-do city planning all over again. You can’t say “ok we built LA for the car, but now we want to use transit” when the city is still made for the car. And that has to be done in all 88 cities in LA County, all with their own municipal codes, zoning laws, and elected officials. And there’s the issue with current residents who have their own special interests. Good luck, LA is screwed big time and with political realities and bureaucratic mess aside, this whole thing will take over a generation to resolve.

    And as for the recent “race” these bicycle, bus, vs car “races” happen time and time again and is an effective liberal propaganda for the bicycle industry. If they really want to see which one is fast and was a truly an impartial race, they wouldn’t leave out the motorcycle which has the agility of the bicycle while having more power and speed, at a fuel efficiency that beats any fossil fuel driven four wheel vehicle out there.

    When the Expo Line opens, they need to do a real impartial race, one that includes bicycle, bus, car, the Expo Line, and the motorcycle. Only then it becomes a true test that isn’t backed by interest groups or bicycle industry lobbyists.

  5. I think it’s correct that people need to ride the system more if it’s ever going to truly take off. I recently looked at my trip to work and found a way to do it with a combination of driving and transit that takes a lot less time than 100% transit. I’m going to try to do that once a week. I’d do it more, but it still takes a lot longer than driving in part because the bus frequency is so bad. Yet if we don’t ride more, how will it ever get better?

    Still, funding and land use are important factors in making transit more convenient as well. We need more walkable urban neighborhoods and more bus funding. Creating a convenient bus system in suburbia is like running uphill because things are so sprawled out.