Speeding, Tejon Ranch, congestion pricing: HWR, Dec. 12

Warming up…

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TOS, Transit Oriented 🌅

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The beyond-obvious starting point today is an op-ed in the LAT wearing the headline “Free public transit and roads without traffic? Sounds like a fairy tale, but L.A. can have both.”

That, of course, is a rather bold assertion — which comes on the heels of Metro CEO Phil Washington telling the agency’s Board last week that congestion pricing could be one way to fund building all 28 major projects in time for the 2028 Summer Olympics and Paralympics.

The fact that the Board was moderately supportive and didn’t throw El Jefe out of the room says something. As does the fact the largest media outlet in our region is also supportive of the idea of charging tolls to discourage motorists from driving in certain areas and/or times of day. In fact, much of the online discussion I’ve seen has leaned toward positive (see this thread on Reddit).

Nothing is on the table at this time and we don’t have specifics to report. Metro staff will be bringing a 28×28 funding plan to the Board early next year — and that’s when discussion of C.P. might heat up. The LAT suggestion:

Congestion pricing is really only fair if a city has good, reliable public transit. Otherwise, people who live in neighborhoods with poor transit service and no alternative but to drive are penalized by the fee. It would make sense, for example, to toll drivers heading downtown, where there are ample transit options during rush hours.

DTLA seems an obvious target as it’s the region’s transit hub — although high-capacity rail doesn’t yet serve DTLA from all directions.

If I was elevated to The Throne, I’d probably spitball LAX as a place to test congestion pricing after the Crenshaw/LAX Line and people mover open. LAX is chronically gridlocked and that same traffic is also clogging up Westside freeways and roads. And this: It’s a place where there are already plentiful options to driving.

Discuss please.

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NBC 4 has a new segment on assaults on bus operators on Metro buses. The agency is putting more police on buses and testing live closed-circuit cameras to monitor bus activity.

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Another LAT op-ed: this one calling for L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti to do more to help transit, in particular giving green lights to light rail trains and adding more bus lanes.

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Two headlines in the LAT today caught my eye — both involving the the difficulty of making transportation public policy.

The first story is about a state law that requires cities (in this case Los Angeles) to adjust and often raise speed limits in order to have the ability to write speeding tickets. That strikes me as less than ideal — and not exactly a great companion piece to the city’s effort to eliminate traffic-related deaths. But efforts to change the state law have gone nowhere over the years.

The second story is about the L.A. County Board of Supervisors’ 4 to 1 vote on Tuesday to approve the 19,000-home Tejon Ranch development in far northern L.A. County. The area to be developed is about 70 miles from DTLA, 34 miles to Santa Clarita, between 40 and 50 miles to both Palmdale and Lancaster and 50 miles to Bakersfield. The nearest Metrolink stations are in Palmdale, Lancaster and Santa Clarita, btw.

Proponents have pointed to the need for new housing (including affordable housing), the jobs the development will create, the forward-thinking plans that will emphasize walking and biking within the development and the agreement between Tejon Ranch and several environmental groups (including the Sierra Club, NRDC and Audubon Society) that could permanently protect 240,000 of the ranch’s 270,000 acres. Pretty much everyone agrees the ranch encompasses a very ecologically rich area.

Still, it’s hard not to see shades of gray here — and how stated goals on housing and transportation can seemingly be at odds. A lot of the folks involved in this debate, including the supes (who are also Metro Board Members) and members of enviro groups are pushing for more alternatives to driving as a way to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The ranch will likely be a nice place to live and be a better kind of suburb — and there could be new jobs within its commercial sections. But it seems likely, too, that future residents will depend heavily on driving, especially on the 5 and 138.

 

 

 

Categories: Policy & Funding, Projects

10 replies

  1. Building 19,000 in homes in the wildland urban interface.. funny almost that same amount of houses just burned in other areas of the same conditions! The decision to continue suburban sprawl in an otherwise beautiful and open reprieve from the horrid mess of sprawling Southern California is absolutely disgusting, and the fact that this decision was made not even a month after two immensely destructive wildfires of equal risk just highlights the stupidity of this endeavor.

    And to think this will be “different” from the other 100-odd suburban communities in the region is totally absurd! Without any sustainable regional transportation option, these thousands of drivers will be forced to commute long distances for meaningful employment further south in LA, just like the rest of the suburbs who fail to retain or create job centers. Unless of course, they think they can sustain their city on jobs at Chipotle & Mattress Discounter OR that Amazon HQ4 will miraculously plant roots in middle of nowhere “suburban village”

    I can’t believe it.. when will they learn??

    • The same arguments could have been made about many existing communities in LA County when they were built. If the standard is absolute safety from natural disasters, LA shouldn’t exist at all. It’s only a matter of time before we’re hit by a devastating earthquake.

      The homes are badly needed. If we want to see less greenfield development, we need to get serious about approving a lot more housing in infill areas, which is extremely controversial. We can’t just say no to every housing development (as the Supes realized).

  2. Tread carefully Metro, when it comes to the congestion pricing concept. Support for the agency and Garcetti’s political ambitions will drop significantly if Metro heavily promotes this option. LA is not NY. We are more spread out and have multiple business centers.

  3. Traffic is often directed through DTLA. It would have been smart if there was a detour or alternative route… like the 710 Connector to the 210. Without finishing or further refining the freeway system, congestion can only get worse. Mass transit isn’t better. I don’t see how Metro with it’s current projects will in any way improve sufficiently to reduce driving. Metro routes completely ignore the places that people will want to go. Most trains are in the middle of the freeway. There are hardly any stations at major shopping areas, work sites, or educational institutions. Many routes are seemingly cut off from one another. Metrolink is completely incompatible with Metro, costs more, and have inconvenient and infrequent schedules. Beyond that, let’s have congestion pricing!! Makes no sense, but they love taxes and fees.

  4. “DTLA seems an obvious target as it’s the region’s transit hub“
    But why is Downtown the transit hub? Why do I always have to go Downtown first if I want to go somewhere?

    • Because apparently we all still have a pre-1990s commute where we all work in Downtown and live in the suburbs.

      Even though the Expo Line proved this wrong, Metro went ahead and built the Expo Line as a suburban line anyways.

      “Oh what’s that?? You live in the Valley but your job is in Culver City?? Too bad, take a subway line to Downtown first and then transfer to a sub-par rail line adding more unnecessary time to your commute.”

      That’s an example, but that’s pretty much the mentality that these rail lines were approached.

  5. Giving LRT true signal priority/preemption is a must, that much is clear. Congestion pricing, however, is not necessarily a good idea everywhere especially, as others have pointed out, how polycentric LA is regarding travel patterns, when compared to New York or London. It may just create more of a disadvantage for everybody and prove unpopular.

    Even along corridors with supposedly ample transit alternatives, one must often transfer at least once. For example, coming form the mid San Fernando valley, one has to transfer from the orange line bus to the red line as opposed to one continuous transit line like it should have been (red all the way to at least Canoga Park). Even the plans for transit eastward from NoHo to Pasadena would be yet another separate line without merging the orange and gold lines. So, somebody who is traveling from say east Pasadena to LA Valley College, or Van Nuys / Sherman Oaks to APU Citrus would have to transfer twice for what ought to just be a single line (or at least a same-platform transfer if headway capacity is tight).

    Transferring makes sense on a grid, like from blue to green, or from red to purple at wilshire / vermont, between the regional connector lines, or from crenshaw to purple, but when routes are basically designed from an end point to a hub, and the transfer just involves continuing along what is basically the same corridor, like orange / red, or getting from orange to gold, then you start to see that is a problem with unnecessary route fragmentation. That deters choice riders. These problems with metro’s network design are often overlooked. The regional connector gets the right idea, allowing through riders to minimize or eliminate unnecessary transfers entirely. Of course, the purple line was supposed to go all the way from Santa Monica to El Monte or Whittier originally. Sure, you’ll eventually be able to take expo and do the same, but it will now take more than 50 percent longer due to street-running LRT.

    Metrolink isn’t much help due to its perennial schedule limitations that severely limit its usefulness to most people, so, at minimum, it needs to evolve into a much more frequent, all day service, akin to Chicago’s Metra network or better.

  6. I think it would be great to have free Metro during the Olympics, but having roving mentally ill transients camping on late night buses really doesn’t help with personal safety and free transit would just make it doubly worse. I don’t typically attract much attention, and while I haven’t been attacked, I’ve been more on edge in the last year or so and feel threatened on a regular basis (I used to rarely feel unsafe, so from my perception it’s definitely gotten worse). Many people’s rides are heavily subsidized already so I really don’t see the point of free rides other than to turn the system into something it wasn’t intended for – shelter as opposed to transit.