How We Roll, Feb. 8: ExpressLanes tolls, oil tax & connecting communities

Update: How We Roll’s Super Bowl prediction of Panthers winning 45-10 was only incorrect by 49 points! Two train honks and bus horn beeps for Broncos fans who partake in HWR.

The second half wasn’t much of an improvement.

Take a good look at LAX’s people mover plans (Curbed LA)

Credit: Los Angeles World Airports.

Credit: Los Angeles World Airports.

Some new renderings of the automated people mover — basically an elevated train — that will run from three stations at airport terminals to a station allowing for transfers to/from the Crenshaw/LAX Line.

ExpressLanes are slowing down and officials aren’t sure of the fix (SGV Tribune)

Coverage of the recent move by Metro staff — and approved by the Metro Board of Directors — to potentially raise tolls 10 cents per mile at peak times, to $1.50 per mile. The problem is that too many solo drivers are using the lanes, which are designed to keep traffic moving at least 45 miles per hour.

Obama to propose $10 per barrel oil tax to fix transpo infrastructure (FutureStructure)

Oil prices and gas prices are low — blissfully or disappointingly, depending on your point of view. Under this proposal, the tax would be paid by oil companies on oil imports.

But that will likely make taxing oil even harder, especially in an election year. Of course, taxing consumers via a gas tax increase at the pumps hasn’t proven easy either, the reason the Administration is searching for any kind of revenues.

Bus operator union will protest Metro bus cuts at meeting (SGV Tribune) 

A local union isn’t happy with Metro’s June service change proposal to drop the 190 and 194 and have Foothill Transit take them over. The union says that Foothill Transit’s contractor pays less than Metro and the move could cost jobs.

Opinion: connecting Crenshaw and Beverly Hills takes more than a subway line (LAT)

Carren Jao writes that so many neighborhoods have been so separated — physically and culturally — for so long, it’s going to take more than transit to erase those boundaries. Until the Crenshaw/LAX Line is ever extended north, Carren suggests some art groups helping bridge the gaps.

Why people keep vanishing from L.A. buses and rail (LA Weekly)

Interesting very choice in the headline — they mean vanishing as in lower ridership not vanishing as if disappearing, becoming invisible or secretly being transported through a wormhole to a glorious new dimension in a one-seat ride. Kidding aside, the Weekly interviews subway riders and hears a variety of gripes, including the need for more frequent service, the need for lower fares and the need for restrooms at stations.

That last one was studied a couple years ago by Metro staff at the request of the Metro Board. The verdict: keeping restrooms clean and safe would likely be very expensive and, besides, many other transit agencies do not offer restrooms either.

A lovely map of cell reception in the New York subway (Citylab)

Kinda neat for those who absolutely fret about downtime from their smartphones.

Recent How We Rolls

Feb. 5: can personal virtue ever drive up transit ridership?

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.

10 replies

  1. Adding 10 cents per miles are not high enough to motivate drivers to use transit instead of using expresslanes. The whole system even does not respect the commuters since it isn’t a permanent toll road, and carpool vehicles are free to use it, compared to commuters who pays at least $2.50 or more to travel from valley to downtown through expersslanes. I don’t know why the stupid law limited the Metro to rise toll 30 cents per year. And one thing that I want to report is the trucks are illegally using expresslanes as I already saw that couple times along 10 and 110. My advice is to extend the HOV period by 5-10AM and 2-7PM weekdays, and stop providing discount or bonus credit to fastrack drivers.

  2. I believe a lot of people are just cheating the system. Flipping the indicator to say 2-3 people are in the car when they are driving solo. Almost impossible to catch and so people know they won’t get caught.

  3. From the piece on the ExpressLanes:

    Knabe said this will cause more ExpressLane users to veer into general purpose lanes. “People know where the meters are and they pop in and pop out. It is like bumper cars out there,” he said.

    The answer should be immediately obvious: put up some dividers, as OC does on their Toll Roads. Even flexible stake bollards would discourage that sort of casual passing in the ExpressLanes.

  4. Metro needs to answer some questions before it cancels Lines 190 & 194.
    What are the new assignments for all the affected bus operators?
    Which new Gold Line Station will serve Line 190 on March 5th? Remember Metro wants the new Gold Line Stations to have as many bus lines connected as possible.
    If Foothill Transit takes over the lines. Will Foothill Transit provide the same service level and reliability just as Metro is currently providing?
    If Metro fails to address these questions, Metro will receive criticism from both labor and rider unions. Other smaller agencies may not will to serve the Metro Rail Stations because Metro does not even want to make an effort to have its own buses to serve the new stations. Metro will have a bad role model for other transmit agencies to follow.

  5. Cell phones use up battery life much more quickly while searching for a signal. If a subway tunnel gets sporadic reception or none at all, it’s better to put the phone in airplane mode. Having a map might help a few New Yorkers prevent unexpected dead batteries, or at least dropped calls.

  6. On express lanes you just have to raise the price enough and the lane will be back to its ideal speed. That’s the whole point of toll lanes right. Why so squeamish?

    On making transit better, it is a real dilemma. Resources are limited. Bad experiences keep people away, which means the system gets even more starved for money leading to further bad experiences. Still, there are parts of the system that work well. We’ve just got to keep riding and complaining and things can improve. Plus not all the problems are on Metro. If you drop a bag of chips on the ground on a bus, YOU are the problem! If you skip out on paying the fare, that’s on you. Plus on bathrooms, really people, that’s what Starbucks is for 😉

    • Based on smell and smell alone, I thought Metro did supply restrooms. They just call them elevators instead. Especially the ones at Lake, Allen & SMV stations. And lets not forget the one at Union Station leading from the mezzanine to just outside the bus plaza. My son refuses to get on that one.

  7. As someone who travels the country and world quite frequently (and almost always relies on public transit) I’m always shocked at how many people complain about the cost of LA metro. Outside of South America, I can’t think of single modernized city that has fares as low as LA. I understand some Chinese cities have artificially low fares because transit agencies own property around transit to supplement fares, and those South America cities with cheaper fares aren’t worth the pennies they charge to ride.

    Perhaps the real gripe is with value, not cost. I think the value of metro could be increased if buses were cleaner and ran more efficiently. I’ve said it before, but i think the ultimate added value would come in the form of bus only lanes (shared with emergency vehicles when necessary) to provide more consistent and sometimes faster alternatives to driving.

    • I agree. $1.75 with free transfers is nothing. We paid much more in the late 80’s with a fare of $1.00 in real dollar terms.

  8. Doesn’t make sense that LA Weekly is asking riders on the subway, why people don’t ride the subway. Ask people who don’t actually use public transit why they don’t use it. That should be Logic 101.