Attentive Source readers may have noticed I’m not writing quite as much recently. The reason: some other duties, including a photo project that had me out in the field a lot. Of course, the news has been happening at a steady clip and I’m way behind.
I’ll start with some things that have been in the news lately that I want to discuss. There was one thing in the news recently that I’m not going to discuss because the videotape of the incident was not complete and others have discussed it adequately, in my view.
Art of Transit:
Art of New York Transit Delays:
The Beverly Hills Unified School District last week filed a federal lawsuit against Metro and the Federal Transit Administration alleging that the Final Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (SEIS) for Section Two of the Purple Line Extension is flawed. The lawsuit seeks to stop federal funding for the project, move the subway construction staging area farther from the school and seeks to have the route for the subway “slightly changed,” according to the BHUSD news release.
Metro’s statement in response:
Metro is confident that the supplemental environmental work for the tunnel alignment in Beverly Hills and the Century City/Constellation station meets all legal requirements. This additional analysis confirms that Metro can safely build the project, including the portion beneath Beverly Hills High School. Metro is committed to delivering the project on time and on budget. Construction of the first subway section between Koreatown and La Cienega in Beverly Hills is well underway. Metro is already conducting design and pre-construction work for Section 2 through Beverly Hills and Century City. We anticipate breaking ground this spring. Metro is working cooperatively with the City of Beverly Hills on a weekly basis to deliver this critically important transit project to all taxpayers of Los Angeles County.
Brief history, if that’s helpful: The BHUSD and city of Beverly Hills filed state and federal lawsuits against Metro in 2012 and 2013 alleging the environmental studies for the project were flawed. The state lawsuit was decided in Metro’s favor. In 2016, a federal judge upheld the federal approval of the project — allowing federal funding of the project’s second section to go forward. The judge also required Metro to perform additional environmental studies on the project’s second section, and that study has sparked the latest round of litigation.
The UCLA study on behalf of SCAG — our region’s planning agency — burped forth late last year but has been getting more attention from media in the last few days.
The nut of it: car ownership has soared in our region in this century. At the same time, transit ridership has been sliding since 2014.
Both the Streetsblog and Citylab articles make new recommendations in their final graphs, respectively. First Streetsblog:
Even though some media point to “free-falling” ridership that is in a “slump,” Metro’s bus and rail still deliver more than 1.2 million passenger rides on a typical weekday. The UCLA ITS report quantifies a decline that appears to be spiraling. It is up to Metro leadership to take ridership, and especially the bus system, more seriously. The Metro board can use the new study to create urgency to speed improvements to ensure effective transit service that serves mobility, equity, health, and the future of the region.
That doesn’t just mean expanding rail and rapid bus connections, as L.A. County is working to do, with billions of dollars in new sales tax revenue. It would also mean, the report suggests, making it less easy and cheap to use a car—which inevitably means charging more for driving and parking. No one said it’d be easy.
As Streetsblog mentions, Metro’s bus restructuring study is underway but there won’t be changes until late 2019 at the earliest.
As for Citylab’s point about making driving and parking more expensive…good luck! There is a reason this is politically tough. We’re an extremely large area and I suspect many residents here feel — with justification — that driving is essential. Sure, taking the stick to drivers could work. But I don’t feel it’s likely to work until there’s a great carrot, too — by which I mean an expanded and restructured transit system.
There has been no shortage of articles about declining Metro ridership in the past couple of weeks–once the LAT wrote about it, the media floodgates opened. I thought this Twitter thread had some interesting comments about the challenges of transit in sprawling So Cal.
Transit ridership in SoCal has been dropping for the last decade. Meanwhile, people added 2.1 million more cars to the road in the last 15 years. What would it take to convince people to take mass transit more? //t.co/EntFEc7wyL pic.twitter.com/ylJUfC4oLZ
— 89.3 KPCC (@KPCC) February 1, 2018
A paper tears apart in a city that never quite came together (New York Times)
I’m one of the few people around these parts who wasn’t bothered by this story, which works in very broad strokes but, I think, delivers on its main point. We’re a big, sprawling area with many different levels of government. And having a diminished print media is not helping improve civic government.
I do get some of the pushback given that on the civic front, a lot of good things have happened. The local economy is doing well, there are new parks and museums around the area and DTLA has been revived — and CicLAvia and other open streets events are great civic events.
All that is great. I’d still rather have a robust local media asking the tough questions and attending the government meetings across the Southland — boring as they may be — where so many big issues are decided, punted or swept under the rug.
Things to read whilst transiting: “I’m the wife of a former NFL player. Football destroyed his mind.” A first-person account. Scary and I hope articles such as these propel the NFL to make the sport safer even if it means major changes to emphasize the athleticism over the violence.
Categories: Transportation Headlines