How We Roll, Nov. 28: Measure M and local bus service, local smog, police contract

Election update: The L.A. County Registrar is still counting votes but is nearing the finish line. Here is the latest update on Measure M, which continues to be well over the 66.6667 approval threshold:


Measure R in 2008 won with 67.9 percent approval. I’m not surprised that Measure M won but I am surprised that it is winning by so much given that it is a sales tax increase. Thoughts anyone? It’s also worth mentioning that there are allegations — thus far unfounded, according to the NYT — of voter fraud in California.

Department of Sportsing: The Rams still have a one percent chance of making the playoffs, so says the NYT’s playoff simulator. There are also still three games left to Go Metro to the Rams — the Falcons, ‘Niners and Cardinals.

Department of Cough-Cough: 

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These pics were taken by yours truly on the Westridge Trail on Friday — bad smog in both directions. Yes, air quality overall has improved substantially in our region in recent years. But as we see too often, it still has a long ways to go.

How to clean it up? Well, cleaner cars would certainly help as would everyone driving a little less (transit can help with this). As would cleaner ports in Los Angeles and Long Beach. Of course, it’s hard to control the weather — and more hotter days, courtesy of climate change, certainly would not help.

I do think a lot of people shrug when it comes to the smog issue. There are certainly a lot of days the air appears pretty clean. But there are a lot of days it doesn’t. I know as I get older I have a harder time recovering from colds and coughs and sometimes I wonder if the poor air quality here has anything to do with it. Maybe, maybe not.

The trail, btw, is a fire road from the end of Westridge Road which gently to moderately climbs for about three miles to an old Nike missile site overlooking the San Fernando Valley.

The surprise first big winner from Measure M: LA County’s buses (SGV Tribune)

Bus service in Los Angeles County is provided by Metro — which has the largest fleet — and more than a couple dozen municipal providers such as Foothill Transit, Big Blue Bus and Long Beach Transit, to name just three. I don’t think it’s a ‘surprise,’ but as the Trib reports, almost 20 percent of M revenues will go to Metro bus and muni bus service.

Of muni bus officials interviewed, Long Beach Transit and Big Blue Bus said they will likely increase service frequencies on some routes. Norwalk Transit officials said they may be able to restore some services cut due to recent budget concerns. Another big provider — Foothill Transit — said that ridership has been flat and they’ll take a wait-and-see approach toward spending the M money.

Which raises an important question: in the coming decades, what’s the best way for Metro and the munis to work together to create a bus system that attracts more riders? I don’t think anyone believes the current system is working at maximum efficiency and there is obviously some overlap between bus systems, many with different fare systems. So that’s a big challenge, me thinks.

How to make riders feel safer on L.A.’s public transit system (LAT)

This editorial concerns the policing contract that the Metro Board of Directors is scheduled to vote upon Thursday. Under the current contract, the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department polices the Metro system; the new contract would split that work between the LASD, the Los Angeles Police Department and the Long Beach Police Department.

The editorial notes correctly that security is a huge concern for Metro riders. However, the editorial punts when it comes to taking a stance on the contract, only saying that Metro owes it to the public to provide the safest system possible.

Here’s our recent post on the policing contract, including some key stats.

Hackers are holding SFMTA’s system for ransom (The Verge) 

Hackers were able to access electronic signs — including those on ticket machines — and other internal computer systems. The S.F. MTA wrote in a news release that no transit operations were impacted, nor did the attackers gain access to any customer information. An investigation continues.

In France, a fix for the gondola’s privacy problem (Citylab) 

Shows what I know: I thought the problem involved being able to see what people were doing inside the gondola cars! Nope, it involves the gondola in the city of Brest passing too closely to windows of peoples’ homes.

The solution: the windows of the gondola suddenly mist up whenever they get too close to said windows. Interesting.



14 replies

  1. Frequency, frequency, frequency. That is the single most important improvement that can be made to the bus system, hands down. Riding a bus should be as easy as riding a rail line, where you know the bus will arrive within a sane period of time from when you show up at the stop/station. You shouldn’t need a timetable if your on a major street/thoroughfare. That means 10 minutes or less and not 20 or 30 minutes or more even on major corridors as it is now.

  2. My concern for Muni/City transit is Where’s My Bus? Just yesterday I was walking home and I saw The Lynwood Trolley approaching, and according to the bus schedule that I downloaded on my phone, that trolley was supposed to have passed through where I was 10 minutes ago. I love The Lynwood Trolley because all you need to pay to ride is 25 cents which brings me to a important point. The Transit app just added G-Trans and I find that a lot of the many muni-transit agencies here in LA County don’t have or aren’t on a app such as Transit or don’t have a tracking device to send the information to Google Maps, and in this age of technology MV Transit (and other muni-transit agencies) should get with the times and implement real-time tracking so that we don’t have to wait on the bus for another hour and wonder where the heck the next affordable-bus is

  3. Liberal World, as a person who has inside information on how inefficient the MTA is run by incompetent by the TEXT BOOK employees instead of those with on the job transit experience it was all to clear that Measure “M” should have been defeated. Instead of proposing new light rail lines to serve the inner city they instead proposed yet again to extending and building light rail in the suburbs which in many cases is already served by Metro Link. But for some sorry reason the majority of the ill informed liberals voted themselves another tax increase that will only benefit a few while leaving those in the most in dire need without rapid transit again.

    But then again, it’s the liberals who love to get screwed by the government and then blame conservatives for their uninformed and inferior decisions.

  4. Historically Measure M is a high water mark for the County’s acceptance of rail and mass transportation. Consider how those early sales tax initiatives in 1968, 1974, and 1976 could only muster 40-47% of the vote. The first to pass, Props A and C in 1980 and 1990, squeaked by with 54-50.4% votes in an era when they were exempt from the 2/3 majority rule. When you account for the stunning 68% 1998 vote to halt subway construction, the recent Measure R and Measure M (70.5%!) are truly a sea change of public opinion.

    • Yeah… They’re still quite a few haters for some sorry reason. Like a whole ‘nother world of inferior people….

  5. As opposed to many transit agencies including those other than MTA in Los Angeles County , the MTA uses a extensive computer system to communicate both verbally and digitally with it’s buses and trains. Much of that system is sent via cell phone networks. And like all cell phone networks there are dead areas within the county such as traveling via Cahuenga Pass. Said system monitors “On Time Performance” as well as the mechanical condition of the bus or train. Not only is the exact location of the bus or train but also how many passengers are on board. With all this information being collected and sent currently I find it difficult to expect more information can be collected and processed for nearly 3000 buses just in the MTA system let alone exchanged with municipal agencies with different communication and computer systems.

  6. Smart inter-agency transfers on TAP would be great, but right now the fare structure across agencies makes this very complex. If I take Long Beach Transit and hop on Metro, I should be charged the 50c transfer. But if I connect to a second Metro line, then I should not be charged the transfer, in order to take advantage of Metro’s free transfers. But if I keep riding Metro past the 2-hour transfer limit, then I should have taken the first 50c transfer so that the rest of my Metro rides would fall within the 2-hour limit. Now, it’s definitely better to have the TAP card calculate all this automatically, applying and removing transfers retroactively, rather the current situation where each passenger needs to know the all the fare interactions and predict their rides ahead of time. So I’m all for automatic transfers if they are programmed correctly. But is the TAP organization prepared to analyze the many fare combinations and program them all into the system? And will the public trust that TAP is programmed correctly to always give the lowest price for each ride combination? I think a regional fare simplification program would be very helpful.

  7. One of the missed opportunities in Measure M was reform of local return, the pot of money given to cities and the County for various transportation projects. You have many cities which run Proposition A shuttles of dubious merit and no fare coordination or even accepting the TAP card. Places like Arcadia, Glendora, West Covina, Downey, Bellflower, etc. should have been forced under Measure M amendments to Proposition A to accept the TAP card and EZ transit pass as a form of payment. Cities should have also been given the option to use Proposition A transit funds on transit related improvements to sidewalks and bike lanes, including improvements for the first mile/last mile which Prop A does not allow (only improvements directly at the bus stop, like bus pads or shelters).

  8. I think one major way inter-agency transit coordination could be improved is by giving the TAP card more smarts. Step 1, deployment across most/all transit agencies in the region, was an important (and largely successful) first step. Step 2 is to make the TAP card do as much of the work for you as possible. Having to specifically buy a metro-to-muni or muni-to-metro transfer separately, especially the latter which can’t even go on your TAP Card (at least from BBB to Metro), adds a layer of complexity to the transit process. Why can’t TAP figure out the correct fare for each segment, much like it knows about free Metro-to-Metro transfers? I know this is nontrivial, but you did ask about “in the coming decades.” 🙂

    Another big improvement is to push more adoption of TAP cards generally, as well as auto-reload. Auto-reload is a huge benefit to making transit simpler and worry free (don’t have to worry about fare or reloading, can just walk right on the train/bus), but I didn’t even know Metro offered it until I noticed a message at the bottom of the TAP Card website, and then it required a phone call! It would be even more valuable if it could be done online, and even more so if you could set it up at a fare vending machine.

    These are general transit improvements, but I think they would particularly benefit bus service since they all make it easier and quicker to board and pay on buses, and buses get a much larger marginal improvement in speed when boarding goes faster.

  9. A good start for making Metro and Munis work better would be seamless TAP transfers. I don’t want to have to ask a driver or go to a TVM to pre-load the transfer. I just want to TAP and go.