Art of Transit:
A well articulated argument for more investments to boost ridership on the Metro bus system, which has fallen about 20 percent since 2013. The op-ed was written by USC professor James E. Moore II and Tom Rubin, who once served as the chief financial officer of the Southern California Rapid Transit District.
Their primary argument here is that Metro is spending too much money on building new rail projects and that’s robbing money from the bus system. Their remedy is to still build rail — but at a slower pace — and shift money to the bus system while lowering fares.
I think their overall argument is valid — that ridership will increase when the bus system is improved. That said, I think it’s worth mentioning that Los Angeles County voters in 2008 and 2016 voted to increase the sales tax to fund a number of rail projects. I personally believe those projects will serve the county well in the future as long as they are paired with a better bus network.
Toward that end, Metro has launched a bus network restructuring effort with an eye toward making recommendations and implementing them in 2019 and 2020. More about that here. The study of the bus system will also look at improvements such as more bus lanes and traffic signal adjustments to get buses through intersections quicker.
Other upcoming bus projects/improvements:
•Metro is adding all-door boarding to two busy rapid lines — the 720 and 754 — next year.
•Measure M has funds for bus rapid transit projects in the next decade on the NoHo-to-Pasadena corridor, Vermont Avenue and an east-west line across the northern San Fernando Valley. The East San Fernando Valley Transit Corridor project will add either bus rapid transit or light rail from Van Nuys to the Sylmar-San Fernando Metrolink Station on Van Nuys Boulevard and San Fernando Road.
•The Orange Line improvements project — also funded by Measure M — proposes to add crossing gates and a bridge to speed up travel times.
As for the issue of lower fares, I would not get your hopes up. Large transit agencies such as Metro typically do not lower fares because operating costs over time usually rise. Extremely attentive Source readers will recall that a recent financial forecast to the Metro Board showed that Metro is now covering 80 percent of the cost of each ride. The same report mentioned “right sizing” fares at some point in the future. Point of emphasis: Nothing is currently on the table fare-wise.
Quasi-related: Meanwhile, down in The OC, bus ridership increased 19.6 percent over the last year on routes where service was increased, reports Voice of OC. OCTA in 2016 reduced some bus service in the southern part of Orange County in order to add more buses to busier routes in the central and northern parts of the county.
When the contract to build the Regional Connector was awarded by Metro in 2014, the projected opening date was 2020. That date has slipped to a deadline of Dec. 2021 because of issues with utility relocations.
The gist of it: there’s a lot of stuff underground in DTLA, including old Department of Water and Power lines and other infrastructure, some of which was known about and some of which was news.
Metro has been reporting the 2021 date for most of this year, FWIW, both on the blog and in the publicly-posted and discussed reports given to the Metro Board’s Construction Committee. These are a good resource for those tracking projects (sampling from April 2017 below). But we could have done a better job being specific about it and the LAT story is accurate and fair.
The LAT’s editorial page says a city of L.A. zoning plan that would allow 4,200 to 6,000 new residential units near five Expo Line stops doesn’t provide enough units. But the editorial doesn’t say how many should be added, meaning this is really just an exercise in re-stating the obvious: putting new residential near transit makes sense.
Categories: Transportation Headlines