How We Roll, March 27: If you were the Dark Lord of the freeways, how would you rule them?

Art of Transit: 


More CicLAvia pics here, btw.

L.A. will consider tighter rules for carpool and toll lanes (LAT) 

The Metro Board voted 11 to 1 last week to ask for a study of strategies that can be used to speed up traffic in carpool lanes and ExpressLanes and freeways in general.

It must be said: studies in these parts are a dime a dozen. But The Source, otherwise enduring a Long Sit in the Board room, couldn’t help but nod its head appreciatively. Everyone has an idea what’s wrong with our freeways and it was great to see the Board actually want to wade into the muck.

On the carpool lane side of things, the study will consider bumping the required number of passengers to three and will also tackle the question of whether kids should count toward the requirement (the logic being that a kid couldn’t drive anyway and thus isn’t helping take cars off the road). On the ExpressLanes side, one outstanding question involves how many single motorists are abusing the rules, not paying, not getting caught and thus defeating the purpose of the toll lane.

To emphasize, the motion is only calling for a study — and you could build a skyscraper with all the studies performed in LaLaLand over the years. But this one is getting a lot of press attention because even thinking of changing the way that freeways operate is kind of like dropping a watermelon in a tile store, to quote the old saying.*

What’cha thinking, readers? If you were the Queen/King, what would you do with the freeways?

Some answers thus far:

Why isn’t the Expo Line a subway?

If you have seven minutes and 46 seconds, this is a good explanation of why Expo is light rail. I’m not sure I’d call “Expo” a consolation prize — because it’s not a subway — but I’m sure many agree that it would be great if it didn’t get hung up at traffic signals.

A plan to finance infrastructure (Washington Post)

The Post’s editorial board likes Rep. Peter Defazio’s proposal to raise the federal gas tax by 1.5 cents — after all, the tax hasn’t been raised since 1993. But the Post would like it better if the feds raised the tax by a 11 cents per gallon, which would pay for more highway and other tarnspo infrastructure.

What you can do about climate change (NYT)

Excerpt from this op-ed:

Changing how much we drive is not easy; it often requires a major change in lifestyle, like moving closer to work or making more frequent use of public transportation, which often takes longer and is less convenient than driving. It is much easier to buy a more fuel-efficient vehicle; cars with fuel economy much better than the new-vehicle average of 25 m.p.g. are widely available.

In a country where upward of 86 percent of commuters drive to work (not to mention driving for other purposes), getting Americans in more gas sippers makes sense. That said, we repeat: generally speaking, taking transit instead of driving alone will reduce your greenhouse gas emissions — and make your car last longer, too.

Owners vote 31-1 to okay Raiders move to Las Vegas (ESPN)

On the subject of driving, Raiders games in Oakland were easy to reach via BART. There is no train in Vegas, at least not yet — although the stadium looks to maybe be walkable from parts of the Strip.

One other fun fact: three of California’s four NFL teams have shifted locations in the past year. Rams from St. Louis to L.A., Chargers from San Diego to Carson and Raiders from Oakland to Las Vegas. Only the 49ers remain in Santa Clara, 50 miles from San Francisco.

And because you need a cold little heart to even ponder changing the freeway rules…

*I just like the phrase dropping the watermelon. I have no idea if that’s an actual saying.

9 replies

  1. There is no need to charge for the use of lines on the freeways , all the lines should be open and used by everybody , we all pay taxes for it , why some people with extra money have the privilege to use them and make it more difficult traffic for the rest !! Make no sense !!

  2. Well, I’d consider the ‘9ers moving 50 miles south of the city to be a shift in location – despite the lack of name change.

    The Expo Line isn’t a subway because it’s the result of a project to save an above-ground rail corridor. The community based groups that started it probably never considered the possibility of an underground line.

  3. Opening the HOV lanes to all traffic on non-peak hours won’t solve anything. If there’s stopped traffic, there would just be an extra lane of stopped traffic if you opened them up. And if there’s not traffic, there’s no point in opening the lane up.

    At least keeping them HOV 24/7 would give a benefit to those who actually carpool when there’s off-peak heavy traffic.

  4. I like the speed of the Red Line, but I certainly enjoy the views on Expo. Most of the DLTA evening issues have been resolved with the evening average for 26th/Bergamot to 7MC now to an overall average of 49.3 minutes (not overall, just my own measurements of the trains I take) – not too far off from the 42.8 minutes for the reverse in the mornings. This plus the more frequent morning departures from 7MC have been great tweaks to the system that I have really appreciated.

  5. Need stronger enforcement on the Express Lanes. On the one lane segment west of the 710, it backs up without fail for three hours every morning, and there should be at least three motorcycle CHP officers there verifying that everyone is paying or declaring properly (and the transponder needs to detect a change made in the last 15 minutes, which might have been somone trying to evade but seeing cops ahead).

    • Better yet, can the El Monte Busway which was built with transit funds for buses only (and is really only designed for them east of I-710) be returned to bus use only?

  6. okay I understand building a subway is super expansive project for Metro and Los Angeles County, so they turn to light rail and bus rapid transit. But those options is not enough to transport riders efficiently from one to another. Let’s take a look at our light rail system. Our light rail system has too many level crossings and street level sections, which add unnecessary travel time and cause more delays due to sharing right of way with pedestrians and cars. I really hope Metro will consider the light rail separation in busy intersections, either in aerial section or underpass section; increase the travel speed of light rail vehicles to 60-70 mph; apply a larger size of LRV which should be capable >200 riders per car; also remove some seats into standing area and bike area.
    However, Metro should also recognize that heavy rail does not really mean it has to build underground as subway. They can be build at gate and aerial, which will save you the some budget spending on building a heavy rail.

    • Assuming all Federal funding is gone from Los Angeles under the current administration (and that’s a reality we need to accept), then the fact that half of the money raised locally still cannot ever be used for tunneling (A & C funds) because Hancock Park and the Fairfax District wanted to block the Wilshire Subway in the 1990s is something that Metro needs to have changed, especially now that dinosaurs have gone to pasture and the region’s thinking on Mass Transit has changed.

  7. Hi from Melbourne, Australia Steve,

    As you know we are fortunate enough in Melbourne AU to currently have the largest urban tramway/light rail system in the world (as at 2017). Streetcars are the second most used form of public transport in overall boardings in Melbourne after the commuter fully electrified heavy-rail network, with a total of 203.8 million tram/light rail passenger trips in 2015-16. We have about 250 kilometres (155 Miles) of all double track line (both street/shared trackage [about 2/3 of network] and reserved trackage [about 1/3 of network], about 500 modern streetcars, 25 routes, and 1,763 tram/light rail street level stops or low level platforms.

    Watching your well narrated 7 minute, 46 second video was really informative! I was aware of about 2/3rds of the information but learnt much new material.

    I was interested in your coverage of motor/streetcar interaction/interface. Obviously here in Melbourne we have similar systems to L.A. with traffic lights activated by “in road” and “in rail track” transponders giving preference to Streetcars/Light Rail and Bus movements over motor cars.

    We also have another low cost system that “might” interest you? They were called “Fairways” when introduced in the early 1980’s. They are now called “Tram Lanes” and “Tram Ways”. It It involves a series of three kinds of road marking giving preference to streetcars/light rail cars. Viz:-

    • BROKEN YELLOW LINES PAINTED ON THE ROAD: Indicate cars may use the road lane but MUST get out of the way of streetcars when they approach. Regular cops and Transit cops can book you for disobeying these broken yellow lines.

    • SOLID YELLOW LINES PAINTED ON THE RAODWAY: Indicate the same as above EXCEPT there are road signs handing from the streetcar overhead wires what indicate rush hour times when the car ban is ABSOLUTE.

    • LOW LEVEL YELLOW CONCRETE BARRIERS (about 3 inches high): These indicate absolute “reserved track”. You may not even “U turn” over these barriers except where there are deliberate breaks in the barrier system.

    These two videos might interest you? The first is from the introduction of the “Fairway System” in the early 1980’s and runs for 60 seconds. The second video is a CONTEMPORARY Video from our Roads Authority and runs for 6 minutes 35 seconds and describes ALL road/motorist rules applying to our streetcars. It might interest you?

    1980’s film:

    Current information film 2017:

    How did Melbourne retain its Streetcar network when nearly EVERYWHERE (including all of Australia) ripped out their tram/light rail networks?

    We had Major General Sir Robert Risson CB, CBE, DSO, ED (20 April 1901 – 19 July 1992)! He was an Australian engineer, soldier, and tramway administrator. After WWII he became chairman of the Melbourne and Metropolitan Tramways Board from 1949 to 1970. In this position he heavily defended trams against politicians and road lobby groups. He is considered THE major factor in the survival of Melbourne’s tram/light rail system.

    Thanks for your great video Steve,

    Sean Kelly