Transit ridership in the U.S., nav apps versus local streets: How We Roll, May 2

Art of Transit:


In the news…

•The numbers are in — transit ridership fell two percent across the United States in 2018, according to Government Technology (a website, not an oxymoron btw). Losses were felt across the country at agencies big and small, Metro included. Excerpt:

Los Angeles Metro, one of the largest transit systems in the country, saw ridership decline across all major sectors in 2018, according APTA data. Bus ridership in L.A., which accounts for 70 percent of the transit trips, was down 3.1 percent.

Metro is in the process of a “NextGen Bus Study,” which will examine the system for areas where improvements can be made. The system “hasn’t had a major overhaul in more than 25-30 years,” said Rick Jager, a spokesman for L.A. Metro, adding the county — one of the largest in the nation with more than 10 million residents — has changed a great deal during that time.

“There are many reasons for a decline in ridership that include ride-sharing services like Uber and Lyft, a better economy, lower gas prices — until recently — perceptions of safety issues when riding transit, but one of the many factors is an increase in car ownership,” said Jager.

Metro’s ridership numbers are updated every month here.

More in the LAT on the history of L.A. Union Station on the eve of the 80th anniversary celebration. The celebration at LAUS will take place Friday and Saturday — details here.

•It’s National Bike Month — here’s the list of activities that Metro is participating in or sponsoring. And here’s the list of classes and community rides, which are a great way to tackle the streets of our region on two wheels.

•As someone who spends a lot of time walking Bluey the Dog around Pasadena, I’ve become pretty familiar with traffic patterns on residential streets. Some days traffic is light. Other days, traffic on some of these streets can be very heavy — I’m guessing because traffic apps are sending motorists down those streets.

Curbed LA has a good post about efforts in the city of L.A. to write new data sharing agreements with Waze and Google Maps. As part of this:

The Los Angeles City Council on Tuesday directed the city’s transportation department to attempt to persuade digital mapping companies to participate in a pilot program that would limit the streets that drivers are instructed to use in a given area.

City officials, no shocker here, think that’s a wise idea. The nav companies? Well, we’ll see.

The Cato Institute has a few words about a recent LAT story exploring the promine•nt role of consultants on the state’s bullet train project. Their conclusion:

This Wednesday the rail authority plans to send the legislature “a detailed plan on building a partial operating system from Bakersfield to Merced for $16 billion to $18 billion.” You can drive from Bakersfield to Merced in 2.5 hours according to Google Maps. You can already take a train for $27 that covers the distance in two hours and 45 minutes, and the consultants promise that the high-speed train would cut that by 45 minutes. And all for only God-knows-how-many billions of dollars.

Bakersfield and Merced are 164 miles apart by car, so says Google. Depending on who is doing the driving and the number of pit stops needed, that’s probably a two- to three-hour drive. FWIW, I’ve enjoyed some highly successful dog walks + coffee stops in DTVI, or downtown Visalia for you long-worders.

•With Traxx closing its doors at Union Station this week, a little more background on the restaurant over at Eater LA.

•Between traffic and the chronic number of vehicle accidents, LAT columnist Steve Lopez is more bullish on driver-less cars and the good things they may offer our region.



8 replies

  1. High Speed Rail continues to be a disaster. 164 miles should take less than 1 hour with no stops. Why would it take longer? I can imagine it being slower when it debuts, but eventually it should gradually get faster. European and Japan lines routinely test them at much higher speeds, but slow them down for regular service. Over the decades, they get better with each generation of high speed trains. In the news, Gov Newsome wants to reduce consultants. Trump Administration stopped working on high speed rail since 2018. This is just getting worse.

  2. The one thing that I can foresee never being finished is the California high speed train. Why on earth it was started around Bakersfield or Fresno is beyond me. I did not vote on this because I worked for an engineering department and no matter what project, there is always change orders that include cost adjustments, always up of course. The train should have been first built between Los Angeles and San Diego which has a proven line of people using the train between the two cities. By the time if ever, when the high speed train comes to Los Angeles, many of us will not be around. Just like the train between Victorville and Las Vegas. I am not sure who comes up with such ridiculous planning that does not serve the majority of the population of Southern California.

    In addition, Metro has budget problems which is causing service being cut on rail and bus lines. One of the problems was constantly extending the Gold Line further and further east where there is not the population like in Los Angeles. Before the Gold Line was extended so far east; something should have been done about a train through the Sepulveda Pass where people have been fighting traffic on the 405 freeway for decades. As I have mentioned before for years now, I am not sure who decides the employees who work in the Metro Planning Department but it seems they have made not such wise decisions in the past.

    • You’re right that the ridership would probably be higher on a Sepulveda Pass line than the outer Gold Line. However, because the law currently requires 66.66% of voters to approve a tax increase, I think Metro thought it needed to offer the San Gabriel Valley something to get its citizens to vote yes. That was probably a good decision since the margin of victory on the recent tax increase was not huge. But maybe I’m biased because I use the Gold Line everyday and love it.

  3. Somehow I don’t feel transfer is a problem. The problem is, under the current system, transfer is painful, mainly due to the low service frequency and the fact that services are provided by I-don’t-know-how-many transit agencies. We only have transit lines, but not a transit network, nor a transit system.

  4. People want to travel to work and other destinations with the least amount of disruptions. Since the creation of the MTA creation it has become more difficult. Chopping up bus lines with several transfers required to get from point “A” to point “B” discourages people from using the system.

    Examples as follows:
    Line 1 used to travel from Downtown to Century City via Sunset Bl., Hollywood Bl. and Santa Monica Bl. into Century City. That line was abolished and now there is no service from the Echo Park, Silverlake, Hollywood areas into Century City
    Line 2 had alternate buses going beyond UCLA to the beach. That has been replaced by a shuttle bus running once per hour.
    Line 4 all buses used to go the beach. Now only late at night has thru service. Other times of the day require transfer to Santa Monica Buses.
    Line 20 used to have two alternate routes with two going to the beach. Now there is only the primary route and like line 4 only goes to the beach during the late night. During the day one must transfer again to the unreliable Santa Monica Bus.

    It goes on and on. Lines have been awarded to Foothill Transit who are free to cancel the lines after one year. This is what you get when you terminate long term employees and replace them with those making decisions that have little or no actual transit experience.

  5. Two hours for a 220 mph train to go164 miles between Bakersfield and Merced? Something wrong here.