•Channeling his inner Bruce Banner, Howard Beale and/or Thanos, LAT columnist Steve Lopez says the apocalypse is nigh and something must be done ASAP about traffic and sky high housing costs in our region. As self-appointed King of California, Lopez declares:
I will wipe out gridlock overnight by imposing a mandatory odd-even driving lockdown. If you are a noncommercial driver and your license plate ends with an even number, you can’t drive on an odd day, and vice versa. With a vanity plate, you can’t drive at all.
Stay home. Use transit. Ride a bike. Walk. Carpool.
Get caught cheating and it’s a $1,000 fine, with proceeds going to the expansion of mass transit, which, by the way, will be free for everyone until further notice.
Can’t argue that it’s a simple idea that doesn’t require tolls — although it also has a faint whiff of gas rationing during the ’70s (shocker: gas rationing was not popular). I’m wild guessing his proposal would be wildly controversial, inspire all sorts of cheating (fake license plate industry!) and perhaps be mildly effective. Let us remember that Thanos, after all, was widely viewed as the bad guy after issuing his snap and disappearing half the inhabitants of the universe.
Metro is taking a different approach and is studying congestion pricing, which uses tolls to discourage people from driving from certain times of the day. It’s not quite as sweeping or onerous as Lopez’s even/odd approach and, I think, has a better chance of providing benefits to those who drive. Congestion pricing can also be targeted to the areas with the worst congestion and raise revenues that could be used to expand transit and other mobility improvements.
Thoughts, people? If you were queen or king of California, how would you fix traffic?
•On the subject of housing and ridership, Curbed LA looks at another theory that has been floating around: many of the low-income riders who once rode Metro have left Los Angeles County because they can no longer afford to live here.
•And speaking of housing (again), LAT columnist George Skelton has a post-mortem on SB 50, the bill that would have rezoned parts of California to allow more housing near transit. His take: the bill needed to be changed in order to pass and Gov. Gavin Newsom did little to help shape the bill into something that could get enough votes.
•Consumer Reports raises a number of safety concerns about the Autopilot feature in Tesla cars that allows cars to change lanes without driver intervention. Bottom line: CR found humans drive better in many circumstances and that Autopilot cut off other cars or appeared to break driving laws. Self-driving cars may certainly happen in the future — but as I’ve written before, I think it’s going to be a long road to get there.
•Really nice essay in NYT by C.S. Giscombe on being a cyclist, amputee, poet, railroad employee and member of the Black middle class.
Art of Transit: