How We Roll, June 10: almost caught up and Expo’s May ridership

After being exiled to Ohio last week, I think I may actually be caught up with my work this week. You be the judge…

Ridership estimates: Here are the estimates (key word!) for the Expo Line in May — the extension to Santa Monica opened at noon on May 20 (all May ridership estimates are here):


It's good to be exciting! Photo by Steve Hymon.

It’s good to be exciting! Photo by Steve Hymon.

Things to read whilst transiting 1: “No city in the country is more exciting than Los Angeles right now,” says the “36 Hours in Los Angeles” feature in the NYT. The Expo Line, Gold Line and the coming-soon DTLA bike share all get mentions and — get this — with no accompanying snark. Nice piece with a wide variety of suggestions. And now I want to go bowling in Highland Park.

Things to read whilst transiting 2: a 1980 SI profile of hockey legend Gordie Howe, who passed away today.

Things to listen to whilst transiting: Re-remembering Muhammed Ali on NPR’s Code Switch podcast.

And, “Inside HBO’s ‘Silicon Valley’ on NPR’s Fresh Air podcast. “Silicon Valley” is the best show on TV, IMHO. The New Yorker also has a similar article.

From the Dept of Reminders: The first of 22-weekend closures begins tonight at 8 p.m. on Wilshire Boulevard for decking work on the future Wilshire/La Brea subway station for the Purple Line Extension. Details and detour map here. And that means that the 20 and 720 buses will also be detoured around the construction zone.

From the Dept of Future News: Metro is releasing the revised spending plan for the agency’s potential sales tax ballot measure later this afternoon. We’ll have a blog post up as soon as the plan is publicly available.

Art of Transit: 

Washington Boulevard. Photo by Steve Hymon.

Washington Boulevard. Photo by Steve Hymon.

From the Dept. of Transit-Oriented Photo Exhibits: 


From the Dept of Things That Show Up in Other Firms’ Marketing Materials:

Click above to visit their website.

Click above to visit their website.

Eyes on the street: Expo 2 still has parking available (Streetsblog LA)

Perhaps one big reason why: more people in the morning are riding westbound to West L.A. and Santa Monica than going eastbound. Also, Expo 2 has really good bus and bike connections.

Devil’s bargain: to enforce speed limits, L.A. must raise speed limits (Streetsblog LA)

Thanks to a bizarre state law, L.A. must complete speed studies on streets every seven to 10 years. If the studies are not completed — and, guess what, they haven’t been in much of L.A. — then police are not allowed to use radar to detect speeders.

The nut of it: speed limits on many streets aren’t being enforced and won’t until speed limits are raised, something that officials support.

BART bond will be on November ballot (Streetsblog SF)

One of many transit-related items going to voters this fall. This one is to allow BART to issue $3.5-billion in bonds to bring the rail system into a state of good repair.

Here’s a first-mile, last-mile solution to L.A.’s transit woes: walking (LAT)

In this op-ed, Ali Swenson argues that walking options are already there but we’ve become too conditioned to not walking.

It turns out, when you slow down and walk — just to walk — you start to appreciate the city in ways you wouldn’t otherwise. You build a sense of community on the street.

Walking integrates us into the city. Driving isolates us from it. Just like babies learning to walk, we’ll stumble as we adjust to our city that’s still built for cars. Walking in L.A. isn’t always pretty. But unless we get out and practice — unless we take the leap of faith — there will never be an incentive to make this city safer and more enjoyable for pedestrians. And that prospect is far scarier than taking the first step.

Mia Lehrer chosen to design DTLA’s latest park (Curbed LA)

Mia Lehrer + Associates.

Mia Lehrer + Associates.

This is on the long-blighted parcel on 1st Street between Spring and Broadway — and next to Grand Park. This, the Los Angeles State Historic Park (which is coming along nicely), the Pershing Square makeover, the future green space in front of Union Station. All signs point toward a greener and more human-friendly DTLA.

London deploys a hologram to enforce new escalator rules (Citylab)


9 replies

  1. I dont understand the significance of the photo of Washington Blvd.

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  2. Taking the bus to and from the stations and buying a transfer to Expo is cheaper than paying for parking. Even if you do pay full bus fare, to get the free Metro transfers, round trip is just $2.50 on BBB or $2 on Culver City Bus. Besides, you get to let someone else do the driving. Who needs a car?

    • Heck, even if you don’t arrive on a connecting bus Expo is way cheaper than parking at either end of the line. Bonus points for no driving stress. Still, I need a car to leave town or for time-critical appointments.

      As for the Expo ridership trend, I’m cautiously optimistic. Hopefully a summer ‘beach traffic’ surge and more railcars by year end will keep ridership high.

      However I’m surprised at the big downturn in Blue Line ridership. This line serves a part of town where auto ownership may not be an option. Metro needs to investigate more deeply.

      • The Blue Line issue is relatively straightforward. Longer waits due to maintenance, a continually declining “quality of life” on the train (loud music, feet on seats, vendors, etc.), and an improving economy/drivers’ licenses without regard to status that all combine. When midday headways are 24 minutes, or stations are bus bridged on weekends due to track work, riders give up and go drive instead. This is especially the case if your work hours don’t fit into the 8-5, like many lower income people who do shift work instead of standard office hours.

      • Blue line headways have been hit by Expo trains. The two lines sharing the same ROW with street level crossing on Flower is a disaster.

  3. Standing on the left and right is an experiment at one single very deep station. Normally, especially during rush hour, escalators are operating at full capacity (and therefore moving the most people) when you tell passengers who wish to walk up or down to take the left lane and those who do not to stand on the right. That is the fundamental rule of London life: break it and you’ll probably never be forgiven.

    However at very deep stations this does not work on extremely long escalators going UP. Not enough people want to walk up a steep hill for 150 to 200 feet, so half the escalator is left empty or, at least, far from full. In this case, and this case only it’s more efficient use of space if people stand still in both lanes, thus ensuring the escalator is taking its full load.

    Holborn has four up escalators in operation during rush hour. Two operate by the normal rules (you can walk on the left) and two by asking passengers to stand still on both sides. Down escalators operate on the ‘stand on the right, walk on the left’ principle, as do both up and down escalators at every other station. This is a station with 10,000 people exiting between 8.30am and 9.30am each weekday and the experiment is partly to stop long lines at the foot of the escalators, stretching back to the platforms. It has resulted in an increase of more than 30% in escalator footfall: 110 people per minute, up for 80 per minute before the experiment started. It will last for six months. That said, the picture looks to me to have been taken at a very quiet moment for a London station!

    • Although my ridership on Expo Line Phase 2 does not count among the May ridership statistics (I rode Phase 2 to Santa Monica as part of a field trip with the Los Angeles Railroad Historical Foundation on May 12), I was in LA from May 10-14. I rode on all six rail lines, the Orange Line and a handful of bus lines (704, 754 and the Dodger Stadium Express of note) and rode the Red Line the most often without question. [I stayed at the Orange Drive Hostel in Hollywood, a block from the Hollywood/Highland Station.]

      I am not surprised with the early numbers of the Expo Line and I strongly believe the ridership figures will only get higher. The fact that the weekend stats were nearly double with the full legnth Expo Line to Santa Monica in operation for only the last 12 days of May is the only proof I need to read. I’ve said it before (on social media [Instagram and Twitter]) and I’ll say it again: the ridership projection of 64,000 by 2031 may be eclipsed within three to five years!

      As far as the Gold Line ridership decline, my only theory is that commuters in the San Gabriel Valley that used to drive to Sierra Madre Valle, Lake and Allen are now driving to the six new stations further east. Although the same thing could happen to the Expo Line, it is less likely because (a) a significant number of jobs reside on LA’s Westside and Santa Monica, and (b) of the many tourist attractions at the last stop, Downtown Santa Monica.

  4. Did you see the ridership data for Expo? Even though Expo was only open for 12 days in May, average weekday ridership was up more than 10,000 daily riders from April (from 29,000 to 39,000). Extrapolated over a full month I now expect daily ridership to reach close to 50,000 in June. Even more amazing is the weekend ridership, which is up by close to 75 percent. I wouldn’t be surprised if weekend ridership is as high as (or even higher than) weekday ridership during the summer months. Of course, weekend ridership on Expo benefits from the fact that Metro can afford to operate three-car trains all day long on the weekends, while the shortage of rail cars forces them to operate two-car trains during the weekday peak periods on approximately half of the trains (based on my limited observations).
    Compare the Expo Line’s ridership growth to the statistics published for the Gold Line, which fell again in May to less than 50,000 average weekday riders. The May ridership (49,238) is less than 3 percent higher than the February ridership (47,931) from the month before the Foothill Extension opened. Does this data sound accurate to regular riders on the Gold Line?
    Regarding the Expo parking: frankly I’m not surprised that there is still parking available at these stations, but I was shocked to see that barely 10 percent of the park’n’ride spaces were being used in the middle of the day last Thursday. Are drivers afraid that they won’t find a space and don’t know that there are plenty of spaces available, or are they just not willing to pay $2 for parking?

  5. 1. That’s not a hologram.

    2. Kudos to Ali Swenson. When I am on vacation, the combination of transit (especially rail) and shoeleather is one I look forward to, I can only add that cars isolate people from each other, while rail brings people together.