How We Roll, Jan. 9: Mia and Seb should be cited for not having ExpressLanes transponders!

Infrastructure and water enthusiasts already know that Mammoth Mountain’s drains (in part) to the Los Angeles Aqueduct, which supplies some of the city of Los Angeles’ water.

Should be interesting story. Of course, land availability is very different in the 21st century than it was in the mid-20th century. Many of our region’s suburbs weren’t developed until after World War II when farms and ranches were converted to homes and apartments.

This column likes all things travel and a nice reminder of how different parts of the world are connected.

As we’ve mentioned in the past, generally speaking a good way to help mitigate climate change is to stop driving alone and take transit instead.


I think I want to know the backstory.

For any readers who are camera enthusiasts — no shortage of transpo-related time-lapse opportunities in our region.

Why Uber lost $2.2 billion in nine months (Vox) 

Good article by Timothy V. Lee summarizing a lot of what has been written about Uber and the $11 billion that it has raised from investors — money that goes toward subsidizing its losses.

The big question is when or what will help Uber turn the corner to profitability. Capturing more market share? Certainly. But here’s Timothy’s theory:

If that’s Uber’s real strategy — and the company is investing heavily in self-driving technology — then the profitability of the company’s existing ride-hailing business might be beside the point. Even if Uber can never turn a profit charging its current fares with human drivers, the company will definitely be able to turn a profit renting self-driving cars at those rates.

I’m not wholly persuaded, FWIW, because I have a suspicion that buying and maintaining self-driving cars won’t be as cheap as many assume. I also think self-driving cars will be slower for safety reasons and then will put a dent in their productivity although a self-driving car will likely spend more hours on the street than the car belonging the average Uber driver.

It’s an important topic. For one, ride hailing vehicles (or cheap taxis, as I prefer to call them) contribute to traffic. And there’s little doubt that cheap taxis are putting a dent in transit ridership, here in L.A. and likely elsewhere. The door-to-door rides are so cheap that a lot of folks I know are willing to spend a few dollars more than transit for the sake of convenience. That means that in the evenings and outside of rush hour, transit has a big, big competitor to reckon with.

Metro plans upgrades for Union Station bus stops (Urbanize LA)

Looks good; the plan will reviewed this month by the Westside/Central Service Council. Click here for pdf for downloading and printing. Construction is planned to begin in late 2017.

Plus de voitures autonomes, c’est aussi moins d’organes pour les greffes (Slate France)

Google translates that to ‘more autonomous cars, it’s also less organs for transplants.’ The assumption is that autonomous cars will be safer than ones with human drivers. That’s probably correct.

One way they’ll be safer: they’ll probably be much slower.

Millions hit as Tube strike shuts central London locations (The Times of London)

On the plus side, I read recently that London and the UK hasn’t been this cheap to visit in quite some time.

Buffalo becomes first city to bid parking minimum goodbye (Citylab)

The western New York city apparently becomes the first in the U.S. to completely get rid of the requirement that parking be built along with new developments.

But it’s not getting rid of parking — rather, the city will require developments over 5,000 square feet to do an analysis and parking then will be determined based on location and other factors such as proximity to transit, etc. And there are new zoning rules designed to make parking lots more appealing.

I do think these kind of zoning changes can be helpful. One of the reasons that commercial corridors in our region look so mishmash (read: awful) is that zoning codes for years required a certain amount of parking, meaning you got a lot of small shops surrounded by parking lots. That makes walking on those streets difficult. And housing? At times, zoning codes either outright discouraged it or prevented it, instead of letting the markets decide.

The Citylab story also brings up L.A.’s adaptive reuse ordinance, which helped get going the current DTLA real estate boom. The article also suggests that sometimes these type of rules can also lead to the law of unintended consequences, which in this case is gentrification that results in only high-end housing.

And about ‘La La Land’….

Look at traffic below on the NB 110. It rarely moves that well! So why the gridlock?

Went to the movies the other night. I wanted to see “Rogue One,” the Domestic Partner wanted to see “La La Land,” and you know the rest of the sentence.

As it turns out, I really enjoyed “La La Land” although I thought it started slow. The Domestic Partner’s review: “I thought it was just L.A. kissing its own $%^.”

I certainly agree with her that other films we’ve seen recently such as “Moonlight,” “Captain Fantastic” and “Arrival” were much more original and interesting and entertaining. But let’s face it: a movie such as “Moonlight” — about a young African American male in Miami struggling to deal with a drug addicted mother and his own sexual identity — doesn’t stand a chance of winning an award over a movie about white people dreaming of careers in show biz.

Especially when many of the people handing out the awards are white people who realized their dreams of a career in show biz.

One other thought: L.A. is a big place and the vast, vast majority of people here are not show bizzers. Many are people who probably dreamed of careers in all types of fields and perhaps also faced adversity along the way, albeit nothing like reading lines in an audition. But no one wants to make the movie about someone from Boulder City who dreamed of moving to the big city and opening a veterinary practice or getting a teaching gig or working for a big city transit agency (okay, maybe stretching it).

Oh, and about that freeway dance number: I actually thought it was the weakest of the film’s musical interludes, with the novel location trumping the singing and dancing. I couldn’t get past the harsh lighting (the scene was shot in late summer) and the fact that the HOV onramp from the EB 105 to the NB 110 was supposedly gridlocked when traffic on the NB 110 below seemed to be moving fine. Illogical!

I’m pretty sure Seb did not have an ExpressLanes transponder, which he could have easily gotten one through AAA or at participating Albertson’s and Costco stores.

Plus, I’m pretty sure that number was filmed on the HOV-to-HOV ramp, meaning the ‘La La Land’ characters should have had transponders so they could use the Metro ExpressLanes on the 110.

Which leads me to two things to read whilst transiting:

A nice feature in Newsweek on Angela Parrish, who sings that opening number in ‘La La Land’ and and who has a Mia-like story of her own.

And Curbed LA has their ultimate guide to locations in the film, although many of them were pretty obvious. The big dance number at the city overlook was at Cathy’s Corner, on a closed section of road in Griffith Park.

That walk across the Colorado Street Bridge is pretty neat, but be warned: on the western side the sidewalks lead to stairs that dump you out on a less than pedestrian friendly Linda Vista Avenue.





2 replies

  1. That kind of gridlock could easily be caused by an accident further down the ramp. I was more bothered that both sides were traveling in the same direction!

    • Excellent point! That got my attention too! 🙂

      Steve Hymon
      Editor, The Source