How We Roll, Jan. 18: if climate change isn’t your thing, try riding transit

Coming soon: we’ll have a post up this afternoon about service Saturday to the march in DTLA. We’re getting a lot of questions.

Art of Transit 1: 


Art of Transit 2: 


Metro held a media event this morning to show off Angeli, the tunnel boring machine that will dig the twin rail tunnels for the Regional Connector project in DTLA. The TBM is assembled at the future 1st/Central Station and actually digging is scheduled to begin later this month. More about the project here.

Earth sets a temperature record for third straight year (NYT)

2016 marks three consecutive years of record warmth for the globe (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration)

NASA, NOAA data show 2016 warmest year on record (NASA)

In one sense, the news is hardly a surprise — updates throughout 2016 indicated that temperatures were up across the globe. The data, btw, comes from two American government agencies (NOAA and NASA) and one British agency.

As the NYT neatly put it:

The data show that politicians cannot wish the problem away. The Earth is heating up, a point long beyond serious scientific dispute, but one becoming more evident as the records keep falling. Temperatures are heading toward levels that many experts believe will pose a profound threat to both the natural world and to human civilization.

From NASA:

The planet’s average surface temperature has risen about 2.0 degrees Fahrenheit (1.1 degrees Celsius) since the late 19th century, a change driven largely by increased carbon dioxide and other human-made emissions into the atmosphere.

Sixteen of the 17 warmest years have been this century. In 2015, most of the nations on Earth agreed in Paris to curtail emissions. The United States is the second-largest emitter of greenhouse gases with China the largest. This is how greenhouse gases break down according to the U.S. EPA:

As you almost certainly have guessed, a big portion of the transportation sector’s GHGs come from cars and trucks. How much?:

On climate change, even states in the forefront are falling short (NYT)

Key excerpt:

In 2014, he found, California had the third-lowest carbon dioxide emissions per person, behind only the District of Columbia and New York.

Its progress of late, however, has been less than stellar: Despite its aggressive deployment of wind turbines and solar panels, the carbon intensity of California’s economy — measured by the CO2 emissions per unit of economic product — declined by only 26.6 percent between 2000 and 2014. That put it in 28th place. In New York, which came in seventh, carbon intensity declined 35.4 percent.

What’s happening? California isn’t relying on nuclear power as much as it had in the past and the drought impacted hydropower output, among other reasons.

The problem is that many researchers believe that impacts from climate change accelerate greatly if global temperatures rise more than 3.6 degrees about the pre-industrial mean. The NYT concludes that most places in the U.S. are not “de-carbonizing” quickly enough to prevent that from happening.

Transit and climate change (The Source)

Want to do something to reduce the pace of climate change? Generally speaking, taking transit instead of driving alone is a good way to do it. Check out some of the charts on this post.

Wheelchair vs buggy: disabled man wins Supreme Court case (BBC)

The case stemmed from an incident in the UK in which a woman with a stroller refused to move from the wheelchair space on a bus. The Supreme Court ruled:

Today’s ruling falls short of finding that bus companies can remove non-wheelchair users from the bus, but makes it clear they must do more than simply request they move from the wheelchair place.

Where a driver concludes a refusal to move is unreasonable, he or she should consider some further steps to pressurise the non-wheelchair user to vacate the space.

These might include rephrasing the request as a requirement, or even a refusal to drive on for several minutes “with a view to pressurising or shaming the recalcitrant non-wheelchair user to move.”

This, of course, is an issue for Metro and other bus agencies in the U.S. I asked Metro’s Civil Rights staff to explain the agency’s policy:

•Metro’s obligation is to ask that passengers flip up seats where wheelchairs are secured to allow a passenger who uses a wheelchair to board. If riders refuse to move, the wheelchair passenger is notified. If the next bus will not arrive for 31 minutes or more, then alternative transportation is arranged. Metro’s bus operators are required to notify their supervisors that a wheelchair passenger has been passed up.

•In order to reduce the incidence of this occurring, Metro moved the seats reserved for elderly adults and persons with disabilities away from the wheelchair area to reduce competition for this limited seating. Signage has been improved and blue flooring has been added to help show that wheelchair seating is a special area.

•Metro prohibits baby strollers from occupying the wheelchair area. Strollers on buses should be folded and the baby held in a passenger’s lap. The Denver RTD, btw, was sued over this issue and settled the case by revising its rules to also prohibit strollers in the area for wheelchairs.

•There is a law on the books that allows transit agencies to impose a fine on riders who fail to give up seats in the wheelchair area or seats for seniors and the disabled. The law requires an agency to hold a public hearing before using the law. Some agencies — including those in San Diego and Sacramento — have done so and can threaten fines if people do not move.


6 replies

  1. Metro is doing a very poor job of enforcing the senior/disabled seating, whether reserved or priority, especially on trains. The vast majority of those sitting in senior/disabled seats are neither, and they will conscientiously ignore standing seniors. Wheelchair users usually get somewhat better treatment, but I have seen wheelchair users relegated to the entrance areas. Bicycles and strollers routinely ignore the areas set aside from them, and use the entrance areas to ride in, severely inconveniencing other riders; strollers are seldom folded.

  2. I saw that case and wondered why wheelchair users should have priority over buggy users. OK, children can be removed from buggies, buggies can be folded and children sat on laps – but suppose you have twins? Or are pregnant? Or have two children in a buggy? And a lot of shopping? Mums with small children don’t regard themselves as disabled, but they are certainly handicapped.
    I declare an interest, as the grandfather of a 3-year old and a one-year old.

  3. “Want to do something to reduce the pace of climate change? Generally speaking, taking transit instead of driving alone is a good way to do it. Check out some of the charts on this post.”

    You’re absolutely right, Steve, so why isn’t Metro doing more in the 1-10 year timeframe to enable people to take transit, rather than spending time on projects that will occur in 2050?

    I’ve posted this before, but I’d love to take transit to work on a daily basis. Unfortunately, the bus that runs right in front of my house is on an hourly schedule, and the bus in front of my work (on La Brea) arrives haphazardly, and is just as stuck in traffic as every other bus. That’s not a recipe for getting to and from work at a good time.

    There’s a lot Metro could do today to make transit easier: run more buses more frequently, on a good schedule, and push hard for bus lanes and BRT to get them out of traffic. Instead, we have train plans for 40 years from now. Long-range planning is important, as are high-capacity trains in critical paths. However, we need to fight global warming starting yesterday, and until we shed our collective train fetish and begin focusing on what we can accomplish in the here and now, we’re just going to keep going in circles, begging people to take transit, but not enabling them to do so.

    • Hi Jason;

      Extremely salient points and your comment will be headed upstairs in the proverbial pneumatic tube. The innovation office at Metro has talked about the need for things like bus lanes and better using the bus system that we have — see this post:

      The challenge with bus lanes remains the same: cities control the roads, not Metro. Of course, no bus lane is going to happen if a city or Metro isn’t push for it. They remain politically tough to pull off. Another issue: traffic signals. There really isn’t any widespread use in our region of technology that holds/gives green lights for buses.

      The other issue is service hours. To increase frequency, either the hours will have to be expanded or hours moved from one line to another. I don’t have news about either at this time but Metro does have service changes twice a year with the next one in June.

      Again, thanks for writing up your comment. All fair points.

      Steve Hymon
      Editor, The Source

    • The wife and I went down to the Gold Line to take it downtown to the Colburn School on Saturday. After tapping, we got to the platform and saw a 25 minute wait for the next train. We left. I hope Metro will use that free three dollars to improve service.