Metro News Now, August 26 — bus ridership, LAFC

•The Wall Street Journal looks at declining bus ridership in our region — boardings are down 24 percent on the Metro bus system since 2013 — and what might be done to fix it. The answers, at least in the confines of this article: more dedicated bus lanes and congestion pricing that would make driving more difficult and take some cars off the road.

Not mentioned — what the what? — is Metro’s ongoing effort to restructure its bus system to make it faster and more frequent.

The article is behind the WSJ’s King Kong-sized paywall so it will be difficult to read for those without a subscription. Yes, a pain but it’s nice to see someone in the media showing some self respect and not giving it away for free. Pro tip: lots of opining in the comments.

One key excerpt:

Bus ridership in America’s second-largest city is plummeting as more commuters, fed up with journeys that can be painfully slow due to frequent stops and indirect routes, use growing incomes from the healthy economy to buy a car. The switch saves them time but worsens the overall traffic that buses are caught in, making buses even less appealing to the remaining riders.

That’s a well-written description of the vicious cycle that is impacting Metro and large transit agencies in other cities. My three cents: I don’t believe it’s an irreversible situation. But clearly transit agencies need to find a way to speed up service. 

In that vein, two L.A. City Council Members — Mike Bonin and Paul Krekorian, who also serve on the Metro Board — recently introduced a motion asking for the city’s transpo department to think of some ways to add some mph to Metro buses. Motion is below.

•On the subject of bus ridership, this from Curbed LA:

Of the approximately 7,900 bus stops in the city of Los Angeles, fewer than 1,900, according to the street services bureau, are equipped with shaded structures where passengers can sit and wait comfortably for their ride.

There is a combined effort underway from members of the L.A. City Council, nonprofits and an advertising firm to put more shelters in place. Attentive readers know that while Metro provides the transit service, it’s the cities that usually maintain the bus stops.

•Click on the tweet below for annual boardings over the last four years at Metro Rail stations, courtesy of Scott Frazier. No huge surprises but you can really see the impact of the New Blue closures this year:

It’s interesting to see a few Eastside Gold Line stations toward the bottom of the list. This is where I think the Regional Connector comes into play — once that project opens (scheduled for 2022), trains from the Eastside will run directly to DTLA instead of the time-munching detour trains now take to Union Station for a transfer to the subway.

•Some in Congress want to ban federal funds from being used to purchase rail cars from CRRC, a Chinese-owned business, reports NPR. The worry is the cars will be used to spy on Americans. Metro has a contract to purchase new subway cars from CRRC.

If someone wants to spy on me, I’m glad to hand over my frequently visited websites and apps. Among them: the NYT Crossword app, where I’ve been crushing the mini puzzle lately — including solving one in less than 30 seconds.

•Cool pics at Streetsblog LA of the new pedestrian/bike bridge under construction over the L.A. River in the Glendale Narrows. Very modern.


From the Dept. of Sports and Metro:

LAFC and the Galaxy could meet in the playoffs this fall. That would be fun. If so, the game would most likely be in Expo Line-adjacent Banc of California stadium.






12 replies

  1. easy to increase ridership. Take out street parking lanes, such as on Sunset blvd or Santa Monica Blvd or Vermont or La Cienega, and put down red paint zoning the former parking lanes as bus only lanes. Mandate that every single converted bus lane gets combined headways of five minutes (a bus every five minutes)

    It is not crazy, there’s about 600 parking spots on santa monica blvd, for example, but 25,000 people ride the santa monica buses per day. Metro thinks that the 600 people using the parking spots are vastly more important, more valuable, more human than the 25,000 people riding the bus. Probably because politicians are racist and classist.

    But take out the parking spots and make it a bus lane, and now the bus moves, 2, 3, 10 times as fast as it was before.

    A bus that moves faster than traffic, and comes every five minutes attracts more ridership, that additional ridership will generte more business revenue than will be lost by eliminating the surface parking spots.

    But maybe that’s too radical, but what if we called them summer lanes and they’re only bus lanes part of the year?

    How would that work? on a bad air day in LA, these ‘summer lanes’ automatically convert to bus only lanes, which would correctly tie bus use to fighting climate change and fighting smog in drivers’ minds.

    But metro thinks that parking spots are more important than people. metro thinks that parking spots are more important than climate change. metro thinks that parking spots are more important than breathing clean air.

    So nothing will be done, bus service will get worse, and metro will keep shrugging and saying “there’s nothing we can do.” a self fulfilling prophecy because metro always and only do nothing.

  2. I previously complained about the homeless being allowed to ride up and down the rails to sleep, without paying fair and annoy patrons to and from work, not to mention the foul odors. Their response, that we are all responsible for the homeless. BS, though some of them would like to be helped, the majority seem to like their lifestyle. Why do we have to be subjected to their lifestyle. I get yelled at for switching train cars (the smells can be overwhelming), and yet they ride for free. It’s no wonder ridership is down. I think I will continue riding the bus/shuttle if trains (at least everyone if paying) are not going to accommodate paying customers. They also cause danger because some are either mentally ill, alcoholic and/or drugs users; rape and assault come to mind..

  3. Here is how to improve public transportation ridership: buses and trains run on time (check out Tokyo), enforce fare at all stations (check out London), kick out homeless people at the final stop or force them pay to ride back, stop building slow tram service and start building more subways (reduce the number of vehicles on the road), and clean up the vehicles (there is feces and urine on the seats).

    • That “slow team” you’re speaking has less to do with Metro and probably more to do with the stupid laws that are designed for rail systems to fail. . . But inconsiderate drivers play a major factor as well.

      While I completely agree that trains probably shouldn’t be hitting freeway speeds on shared streets, once it has its own ROW, there’s no reason why it shouldn’t do 70 at all.

  4. When I was younger and working for a living, I used to ride the bus every day to and from work. But there was less traffic on the streets and buses moved quicker than they do now. Back then most people would ride the bus to work and take it home. Now, many working people want a car to be able to meet friends after work or do errands. Most of the bus routes in the past have been to and from Downtown LA. In addition most of the Metrorail routes have been traditionally serving people that work Downtown. Many people do not work in Downtown LA. Someone might live in Thousand Oaks and work in Westwood or West LA. Train and bus routes do not serve people in those areas. There are too many bus routes that you have to transfer to make connections. The majority of the bus routes are local which means it takes twice as long as driving. The Metro Planning Department for decades has been slow to embrace new ideas how to move people around the LA Area. You keep talking about congestion pricing; if people have to work in certain areas where they can not get good and efficient transportation, they will just have to keep driving and bite the bullet.

    In addition, one thing Metro could be doing more to work on presently is find a way to get people to Metrorail stations. Too many Metrorail Stations have no connecting bus service to get people to the train. For example in the South Bay (we the forgotten people of LA) there is only a bus that runs every 45 minutes to get to the Harbor Gateway Station from Torrace to catch the Silver Line; and there is no connecting bus service at all to get people from Torrance to the Redondo Beach Green Line Station. So there you have it; you have not made it convenient for people to use public transportation in such a large city area.

    • I am taking Metro from North Hollywood to the Gardena Transit Center for work…until I can drive again. Homeless on subways and stations, panhandlers and sellers on subways, late buses and delays due to too many buses on Figueroa towards 7th. Not to mention freeloaders on Silver Line and subways.

  5. If you want me to get off my car then have proper security, remove homeless and dangerous drug people off your buses, trains, bus stops, stations and etc. Retire your older buses from 2001 though 2008 because they’re dirty, uncomfortable, slow and rattle which is annoying. I live in SGV and Foothill Transit also needs attention too.

  6. It is not only the speed, it also the disastrous unsanitary environment, especially in Metro Rail. A few times I rode the Gold Line, there were human feces on the train floors. It is frustrating and sad that Metro Rail, especially the Gold Line and Blue Line, has already become a “moving apartment” ..… it is a bedroom and it is also a bathroom.

    Equally unsanitary are the sidewalks where many bus stops are located, especially in DTLA area.

    • I don’t understand why Metro is so unwilling or afraid of removing homeless people after riding the train for 8 hours. Don’t you have to pay fare in each direction?

      Metro, if you are listening please improve the unsanitary rail environment. It is absolutely disgusting to encounter human feces, urine, bed bugs, and drugs on your trains. What good is it paying higher taxes (Measure M) and expanding the tram system is nobody wants to ride it because it is a moving toilet?

      • Choice riders gave Metro a chance, to use the system. But you are talking about potentially getting attacked and/or seriously sick, just because we choose to give transit a chance. Choice riders are going to give up transit and go back to driving or ridesharing, because it is just not worth it.