How We Roll, Feb. 29: American commute times keep inching up

Some work meetings just make everyone feel angry, suggests the NYT.

Some work meetings just make everyone feel angry, suggests the NYT.

Things to read whilst transiting: On the angst of work meetings: the NYT magazine has a great story about the misery that work meetings inspire in many — namely, the desire of some people/narcissists to drone on and on and one even when they have nothing to say and the sound of their voice is nails-on-a-chalkboard. Some companies have searched for a solution and there’s evidence that meetings among smaller, tight-knit teams won’t make you want to crawl under your desk and suck your thumb for the rest of the day.

Things to read 2: In a real El Nino, one of the region’s largest ski resorts doesn’t announce it’s temporarily closing on Feb. 29.

Transit-Oriented Pro Football: Peter King has some insights to the possible Rams schedule at the Expo Line-adjacent Coliseum in his MMQB column:

Don’t expect the team to play at the Coliseum on back-to-back days with University of Southern California football, and don’t expect Rams games to be scheduled at the Coliseum on weeknights while school is in session at nearby USC. Because of that, it’s likely the Rams will open the season on the road, because USC is home to Utah State on Saturday Sept. 10, and the opening Sunday of the season is Sept. 11 … The Rams will have a tough time playing home prime-time games then, because USC finals in fall semester don’t end until Dec. 14.

The Rams play the following teams at home this season — albeit ‘home’ for the Giants game is London, England:

Carolina Panthers (15-1, 1st place NFC South)
Atlanta Falcons (8-8, 2nd place NFC South)
New York Giants (6-10, 3rd place NFC East)
Buffalo Bills (8-8, 3rd place AFC East)
Miami Dolphins (6-10, 4th place AFC East)
Arizona Cardinals (13-3, 1st place NFC West)
Seattle Seahawks (10-6, 2nd place NFC West)
San Francisco 49ers (5-11, 4th place NFC West)

BTW, a certain local sports columnist catches up to two months of speculation about RGIII signing with the Rams but offers no new insights or original reporting. I think signing RGIII would probably be a good move, but I’m also curious to know why everyone thinks Nick Foles — who was solid with the Eagles — has suddenly forgotten how to throw a football.

Transit-oriented hockey: HWR is a big Rob Scuderi fan. Good pickup, boys. The Kings, Scuderi and new forward Kris Versteeg play the in-free-fall Montreal Canadiens on Thursday at Staples, conveniently near the Blue and Expo Lines’ Pico Station.

Everything you need to know about the new Gold Line Foothill Extension train route (SGV Tribune)

A good run-down of essentials about the Measure R-funded extension that begins operations at noon on Saturday. More about opening day here.

The astonishing human potential wasted on commutes (Washington Post)

Commute times are inching up across America, so says the Census Bureau. Photo by Steve Hymon/Metro.

Commute times are inching up across America, so says the Census Bureau. Photo by Steve Hymon/Metro.

The average commute in America is now 26 minutes, the longest it has been since the Census Bureau began tracking that metric in 1980 — and about one minute longer since the depths of the Great Recession in 2009. Excerpt:

Of course, not all of us have 26-minute commutes. Roughly a quarter of American commutes are less than 15 minutes one way. On the other hand, nearly 17 percent of us have commutes that are 45 minutes or longer. And the prevalence of these long commutes — and of really, really long commutes — is growing.

In 1980, for instance, fewer than 12 percent of American workers commuted for 45 minutes or more one way, according to the Census.

The Census didn’t even bother separating out 60- and 90-minute commuters in 1980, since it was relatively rare. But they began tracking these mega-commuters in 1990. That year, 1.6 percent of workers commuted 90 minutes or more one way. In 2014, 2.62 percent of workers were commuting this long, an increase of 64 percent over the prevalence in 1990.

A few things to unpack here. The latest Census numbers for Los Angeles County show the median commute time at 30.1 minutes — it was 29 minutes in 2005. The county has also added about 400,000 workers since then. And the average commute time for the five boroughs of New York City: 39.4 minutes. 

As for the stat that gets the goat of the Washington Post, about 12.5 percent of workers in L.A. County have a commute longer than 60 minutes. That’s hardly surprising given the size of both the county and the larger metro area — and other factors, such as a spread-out job market and wildly varying costs when it comes to real estate (both rentals and home purchases).

To break it down further, there’s more interestingness: 51.5 percent of commuters here spend 30 minutes or less getting to work.

The big takeaway: commute times are inching up here, but they’re inching up across America. While there’s certainly efforts in many cities to revive urban cores and bring more jobs to them, the ‘burbs aren’t going anywhere. Seems to me that providing as many transportation options is more important than ever.

Details emerge for new L.A. Convention Center hotel (Urbanize LA)

Two towers — one 40 stories high, the other 28 — with 1,100 rooms on the northeast corner of Figueroa and Pico in DTLA. There’s a parking lot and Hooters on the site presently. No word yet on where folks will get transit-oriented, uh, chicken wings. The Pico Station shared by the Blue and Expo Lines is one block distant and another big development is rising to the north.

If all this stuff actually gets built and finished, South Park will be unrecognizable in a few years.  The Regional Connector will allow more frequent light rail service at Pico Station, with northbound trains running all the way to either East Los Angeles or Azusa and southbound/westbound trains running either to Long Beach or Santa Monica.

Washington streetcar stumbles could benefit de Blasio’s plan (NYT)

The 2.4-mile streetcar that travels five to nine miles per hour is finally opening this week. The lesson for New York’s proposed Brooklyn-Queens streetcar: get the thing out of traffic and on its own right-of-way, suggests the Old Grey Lady. D.C. officials do point to new development and revitalization along the streetcar route as one positive.

Recent How We Rolls

Feb. 25: Metro responds to Daily News’ ExpressLanes editorial

Feb. 24: how long does it take to drive from Santa Monica to Pasadena during the afternoon rush hour?

Feb. 23: how many readers have used ride-hailing to get to and from Metro stations? And, a new bike path to connect the Duarte/City of Hope station to the San Gabriel River Bikeway.

Feb. 22: another L.A. rail dreams map, sales tax increase proposal in Long Beach.

Feb. 19: is there funding to get the bullet train to either Nor Cal or So Cal?

4 replies

  1. Will they widen the current platform? Or, somehow extend the current platform? If the platform is widened, it will remove a traffic lane on south bound Flower Street. Which is heavily congested with cars and express buses in the pm commute travelling to the 110 Freeway South. (this would really slow down the Silver Line) I do recall talks re widening the platform and removing a traffic lane when plans were to add the football stadium and to revamp the Convention Center. I hope they are able to expand and not widen the platform as this will further slow down traffic on Flower Street.

    • Seriously, now is the time to act on this. With Expo to Santa Monica and the Regional Connector, the Pico station is just going to get more crowded. And knowing how things go, it will take 5-8 years to plan, fund, design, and build the new station platform, even though this is something that could easily get done in a month. It will probably take somebody getting hurt before they actually do anything about this.

  2. With all the development in the Figueroa corridor, and a possible Olympics in 2024, will plans be revived for adding a 2nd platform to the increasingly busy Pico Station?

    • Hi Jose;

      Good question. I haven’t heard anything but I wouldn’t be surprised if the issue comes up again given the numerous developments near the station.

      Steve Hymon
      Editor, The Source