How We Roll, Jan. 19: a transportation smorgasbord

Reminder: traffic in DTLA will be impacted by marches the next couple of days. Avoid traffic and take the train. More here.

U.S. Department of Transportation to investigate civil rights complaint against Metro (LAist)

Civil rights complaint alleges LA Metro, police target black riders (Curbed LA)

The complaint is from the Labor/Community Strategy Center, which is affiliated with the Bus Riders Union, and alleges that Metro issues a disproportionate number of citations to African American riders, a result of using the ‘broken windows’ tactic of policing (i.e. cracking down on small offenses to prevent bigger ones).

Metro’s response to LAist:

Rick Jager, a spokesperson for Metro, told LAist that the agency is working on “a voluntary resolution with the Labor/Community Strategy Center and the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, while the complaint is being assessed.” He added that Metro does not have a stop and frisk policy. “No single individual is targeted. All passengers are checked, regardless of their status,” said Jager.

Jager also said that Metro is in the process of transitioning sheriff’s deputies away from fare enforcement duties, directing them towards more generalized policing on Metro’s lines. Fare enforcement duties will be transferred to 77 new “transit security officers,” whose primary job will be checking for fare. Jager says that these officers are civilians and won’t have the ability to make arrests themselves.

The Bus Riders Union and Metro have often disagreed over the years with disputes involving the level of bus service, investment in rail and fare increases.

Metro construction committee pushes rail votes to Board meeting next week (Streetsblog LA)

A quartet of issues will go to the full Board: increasing the budget for the Crenshaw/LAX Line and Regional Connector, awarding a contract to a firm to build the second section of the Purple Line Extension and a motion calling for further study of an Arts District station or stations for the Red/Purple Line.

Links to the first three items can be found on this agenda. And here’s our recent post on the Arts District motion.

Uber and Lyft cars now outnumber yellow cabs 4 to 1 in New York (Curbed New York)

Taxis still do considerable business in Gotham but the ride hailing cars (cheap taxis, as I like to call them) — from several companies, including Uber and Lyft — continue to make serious inroads.

The cheap taxis, of course, usually win the price war. But last time I checked you don’t need a smartphone to summon a regular yellow cab. You just need to stand on the curb and raise a limb or shout.

DMV licensed 800,000 undocumented workers under 2-year-old law (Mercury News) 

I’ve been meaning to post this for only three weeks! The law went into effect Jan. 1, 2015, and allows undocumented workers to get driver’s licenses.

Some have blamed this for transit ridership declines in the state. I don’t have data to prove that one way or the other, although personally I’m not convinced yet that it’s a huge factor.

Will LAT’s irresponsible coverage of high speed rail doom the project (Streetsblog LA)

Damien Newton joins other critics who thought the LAT mis-characterized a recent risk assessment of the budget for the first segment of the bullet train project. Damien’s bigger point is that these type of stories provide ammo for those who would like the bullet train to go poof — thus the need for journalists to get it right.

Of course, I’m sure there are others who thought the LAT article played it fair and was nothing more than hard coverage of a project with a $64 billion budget.

Trump’s Commerce pick backs spending on public transportation (The Hill)

Trump team prepares dramatic cuts (The Hill)

In the last three days The Hill has reported that the incoming Trump Administration will or will not cut funds for transit and/or the U.S. Department of Transportation.

Rams hire Wade Phillips as defensive coordinator (ESPN)

Perhaps a good reason to go to the games or Go Metro to the games. Phillips has an excellent track record with defenses over the years and a winning record as head coach.