Reminder: for those of you planning on going to the march Saturday, avoid long lines at the TAP vending machines by getting your TAP card ahead of time. More here.
Dept. of Infrastructure Facts: I didn’t know Oroville Dam was taller than Hoover Dam. Now I do. Here’s what the lake looks like behind the dam. The lake can hold 1,152,723,003,027 gallons of water, btw.
Art of Transit:
Another unbelievable example of the challenges our crews are facing this winter. This is from state route 35 in Santa Cruz county… pic.twitter.com/si5zucus2c
— Caltrans HQ (@CaltransHQ) February 13, 2017
In 2016, Metro systemwide ridership dropped about six percent from 2015. Rail went up a bit from the prior year — thanks to the opening of Expo and Gold Line extensions — but bus ridership continued to fall steeply. As an accountability measure, Metro ridership estimates are posted online and anyone can visit the page and slice/dice the numbers different ways.
So what’s going on? Metro officials told LAT transpo reporter they believe several factors are contributing to the declines, which have also been seen in other regions around the U.S. Among them: changing travel patterns by core riders who no longer ride, safety concerns among riders, slow bus speeds due to traffic, undocumented workers having the ability to get driver’s licenses in California, the difficulty of serving more than two dozen job centers in the county and service reliability issues and last (but hardly least), the popularity and cheapness of riding with the likes of Uber and Lyft.
But tweaks over the years to routes and schedules may have eroded the efficiency of some workhorse bus lines that serve major corridors, or made the routes more confusing for riders. It has been more than a decade since Metro has examined and overhauled the bus network, Cheung said.
As L.A.’s economy has steadily improved, traffic has grown worse, and so has Metro’s on-time performance. Agency figures show that about 76% of buses arrived on time in the 2014 fiscal year. This year, the number is near 72%.
As Laura notes in her story, support for building a transit system has remained strong even when ridership has not: Measure M, a sales tax increase, was approved by 71.15 percent of voters in November. Measure R passed with nearly 68 percent approval in 2008 and Measure J failed, albeit with 66.1 percent support — just shy of the 66.67 needed.
Laura is also getting considerable feedback from readers on Twitter and in the comments section of the story this morning. I think this one covers the bases pretty well:
— Laura J. Nelson (@laura_nelson) February 13, 2017
These are all good points, although I’ll add that there are usually a lot of parking spaces open at the Expo/Bundy Station in Santa Monica for those willing to pay $3 a day. It’s also worth noting that even though there is now 105 miles of Metro Rail, that’s in a county that has more than 500 miles of freeway. The idea of Measure M is, after all, to build a lot more rail and get it closer to a lot more people.
Some other tweets:
@laura_nelson Lyft Line has replaced a lot of transit rides for me. I used to take it every day but now with a kid schedules are too slow
— jason_omalley (@jason_omalley) February 13, 2017
— whatswork (@whatswork) February 13, 2017
Depressing – nobody suggests speeding trips to stem the decline (proof-of-payment, dedicated lanes, stop consolidation, signal priority) //t.co/fJkHGx7KeT
— Market Urbanism (@MarketUrbanism) February 13, 2017
— Purplegoddess77 (@purplegoddess73) February 13, 2017
— lil' pope (@popespeed) February 13, 2017
— Sarah Jo Peterson (@SarahJoPeterson) February 13, 2017
That last tweet raises a good point: there has also been a light rail car vehicle shortage for the past year. That has impacted train lengths on the Expo and Gold Lines especially and meant, at times, more crowding. More Kinkisharyo light rail cars are being delivered but it takes time to break them in and prepare for regular service.
Another point: speed certainly does matter to many riders. Metro and city of L.A. transportation officials have been talking about finding ways to trains and Orange Line buses more quickly through intersections — and I think if successful, those efforts would get more people to ride.
There is also this: the Metro Board this month gets to again consider a new policing contract for the system. The current contract is with the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department. The contract proposed by Metro staff would divide the work between the LASP, Los Angeles Police Department and the Long Beach Police Department. Metro staff says that would result in an increased law enforcement presence on Metro buses, trains and stations.
The Metro Board delayed voting on the issue in December, but the Board now has three new members who weren’t there for that vote — Supervisors Kathryn Barger and Janice Hahn and Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia. The full Board meets Feb. 23.
Look folks. Ridership matters. It’s not the only way to measure a transit system — being there to offer rides to people with no other choice is important, too, and getting some cars off the road is also important. But we want to see healthy ridership across the system and well outside of peak hours. On any given day, Metro still carries more riders than many other transit systems — but clearly the numbers show something is happening and hopefully those numbers can be reversed.
Your thoughts, readers? I know you have them!
Some other reaction from around the ‘net:
UX: the next big think for transit? (steer davies gleave)
Urbanize LA: Nothing about ridership, but check out the headlines on the many posts on Urbanize LA’s front page: most of those developments are near rail lines or the Orange Line.
Categories: Transportation Headlines