How We Roll, July 14: can things ever really change?

Things to listen to on transit: The New Yorker offers high praise for the second season of NPR’s Invisibilia podcast. I heard some of season one (and liked it) and season two — about how norms can eventually change — sounds intriguing. Seems to me that one of the things we’ve long discussed in this space is whether the L.A. region will forever be tethered to cars to the extent it has in the past.

My two cents on Pokemon: So…walking around staring even more at your dumb phone doesn’t strike me as a great stride for world civilization. If that makes me an Old Goat or Permanent Grump, so be it. If the Pokemon gets more to take transit, then fine. Obviously be safe and look up once in a while for obstacles and things that are actually real and not programmed. Quasi-related: my colleague Jody L. informs me that Star Trek: Next Generation predicted all of this and it almost led to an alien takeover of the Enterprise. So maybe this is a way for slimy Klingons to get their paws on Metro Rail.

Things to read whilst transiting: I just started the new book Seinfeldia, a great history of the show that argues that its influence on television and culture in general continues to this day (the last new episode aired in 1998). Oh how I wish the show was still on the air to mock the Digital Age and smart phones. Young Source Readers should immediately divert to the Elaine-stuck-on-the-subway episode.

Coming soon from SF Muni: 

MuniMobile Rate My Ride

The SF Muni news release describes the coming feature:

Rate My Ride will allow you to provide specific feedback about any Muni trip in seconds. With a simple click to the left or right, you can rate your trip time, vehicle conditions and even the etiquette of fellow riders.

Rate My Ride is just one more way we’re making it easier for you to tell us how we can improve your SF transportation experience. Rate My Ride is simple, it’s interactive — plus, you can’t beat MuniMobile’s cute interface.

Clever. We collect reader feedback on our Twitter account. That’s not quite as structured as above — seems to me both ways have their advantages.

Things I saw on Twitter:

This next one is interesting — and shows the Old Gray Lady is taking local transpo and infrastructure coverage seriously.

Driverless cars won’t make transit obsolete (Seattle Transit Blog) 

The post requires a few too many words to say that self-driving cars — if ever a reality — won’t create enough new capacity on roads to handle traffic demands. Most interestingness can be found in a graph near the bottom:

This is not to say that light rail will help eliminate traffic congestion. It will certainly help speed up commutes for those who ride it, but freeways are going to continue to get more clogged as population grows, people move further and further away from their jobs, and demand is induced any time road capacity is freed up, at least in an urban environment. Light rail will at least mitigate the rate at which congestion gets worse for those who continue to commute on the freeways, by moving tens of thousands of commuters off of the freeways.

Another way of saying it: self-driving cars may very well sit in traffic, too.

Quasi-related: Hat tip to Streetsblog LA’s Twitter feed for this! 

Warehouses to give way to apartments in South Park (Urbanize LA)

At least 147 apartments plus potential work-live space or retail/restaurant space on the ground floor. The site is Flower Street — along the Blue/Expo tracks and east of the Convention Center. Nearest access to the regional light rail system will be at Pico Station.

Watch Los Angeles boundaries grow (I Got Charts) 

Brief but interesting diversion.

New pricing structure for Santa Monica Breeze (Santa Monica Next)

The new, mostly lower prices go into effect Aug. 1:

The new pricing structure, which was approved by the City Council on June 14, replaces those with four pricing options: $99 a year, $25 a month, $7 a month for students, or $7 an hour for casual users. The annual and monthly passes include 90 minutes of ride time and the student membership no longer needs to be bought for a six-month period at a time.

The article, based on a Breeze news release, indicates the prices are intended to simplify the price structure and that ridership has been healthy. Okay.

When will the feds stop outlawing rail cars used by the rest of the world (Streetsblog USA)

As you may have heard, SEPTA (the agency in the Greater Philadelphia area) last week had to pull about a third of its commuter rail cars out of service due to cracks in the suspension system of relatively new cars made by Hyundai.

This post points out that due to some very dated Federal Railroad Administration rules, rail cars in America must be heavier and built differently than their counterparts in Europe and Asia. That drives up costs and makes it harder for rail agencies in the U.S. to purchase rail cars.

And, finally….

Remember the Vietnam Veteran memorial in Venice that was vandalized earlier this year? The Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department issued a news release today, saying an arrest had been made in the case:

Angel Castro, a 24-year old, male, Hispanic, was taken into custody on Wednesday afternoon, July 13, 2016. He was wanted by LASD Transit Policing Division detectives in connection with the defacement of a Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall in Venice, California just before Memorial Day this year. The wall is located at the rear of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority Division 6.

Castro, who uses the moniker “LITER” (pronounced LIGHT-er) was one of the four monikers identified earlier this month by the lead detective on the case, Michael Thibodeaux. Detective Thibodeaux secured a warrant for Castro’s arrest. Castro was taken into custody without incident in the Exposition Park area of Los Angeles by members of the Sheriff’s Department’s Transit Policing Division Crime Impact Team.

During the initial interview with Detective Thibodeaux, Suspect Castro admitted to his role in the vandalism of the Veterans Memorial Wall. Castro was booked at the LASD Century Regional Detention Facility for violation of 594(b)(1) PC – Felony Vandalism.

4 replies

  1. Steve: From your response to the change in the pricing structure for the Breeze system (“Okay”) I could infer that you’re dubious about their motivation. Is that true?
    I for one am very happy to see them implement the revised pricing structure. The best part is their increase in the daily time covered by the monthly and annual passes, which has increased from 30 or 60 minutes to 90 minutes per day. This will allow pass holders to make many more trips without having to pay overage charges. I don’t like the idea of the daily cap to begin with, but 90 minutes is a lot better than 30 minutes. The revised structure will encourage many riders to switch from the daily usage rates to an annual pass.
    The lack of a daily limit is one of the few elements in the Metro Bike Share pricing structure that I find preferable to the Breeze structure. Unfortunately, the Metro Bike Share pricing structure doesn’t include an annual membership for frequent users that doesn’t include onerous usage charges ($1.75 per trip). Almost every other Bike Share system that I’ve studied includes an annual pass option that is roughly equivalent to six months at the monthly rate (i.e. $100-150 per year for unlimited rides).

    • The issue is that annual rates cause equity concerns for those who can’t afford the one time payment. A better option might be to give three months free after three consecutive months of membership, or something similar.

  2. Apple Maps seems to have to improved to the point that it’s doing a better job with transit than Google (at least in LA). Not only does it have up-to-date info on the rail lines, but it also displays bus routes when you click on line numbers for each stop.