Metro News Now, August 30: money vs rideshare, Iggy Pop, etc.

It’s not working yet on my phone or I’m too tech-dumb to get it to work, but I agree with my colleague John that this is a great transit-friendly feature.



•Jarrett Walker, a transportation planner known for bus network redesigns, offers a long post that asks whether public agencies should fund Microtransit on-demand services without fixed routes. It’s fair to say he’s not a huge fan, saying such flexible service is best as a lifeline service for hard to serve areas. Attentive readers know that Metro is planning a pilot of Microtransit service that we feel can complement our fixed route service, offer riders quicker transit trips and save some folks money as a less pricey on-demand service.

•Uber certainly seems popular enough but the NYT’s The Daily podcast asks a salient question: why can’t Uber stop losing money? Toward the end, an another good question is posed: what is the company’s legacy whether it survives or not? Will future funding for public transit be impacted (because ridership is down), and what does that mean for those who still ride buses and trains?

•Speaking of, and hardly surprising, Uber and Lyft are fighting a state bill in California that would make it harder for them to classify drivers as independent contractors. If the bill gets signed into law, they’re threatening a ballot initiative, reports the LAT. Both companies are already losing money (see above) and are trying to contain labor costs.

•A group is pushing for protected bike lanes on Sunset Boulevard from Echo Park to East Hollywood, reports Curbed LA.

•Five years into San Francisco’s Vision Zero effort to eliminate road deaths, fatalities are up this year and — shocker — police enforcement of traffic laws is down, reports the Chronicle. Attentive readers know I’ve been complaining for years that traffic enforcement is down to non-existent in many places, So Cal included. Be careful out there, people.


Things to read whilst transporting: That’s it. Have a great Labor Day. I’ve got a red eye back to The Motherland tonight (read: Ohio) and am saving this New Yorker profile on Iggy Pop for the traffic jam outside LAX and perhaps the flight. My instincts tell me it will be a Very Entertaining Profile. Perhaps the article will enhance your transit trip, too!



2 replies

  1. I think your bullet on Jarrett Walker’s article is a bit disingenuous. You simplify his argument beyond any usefulness with the statement “he’s not a fan” of microtransit. He provides nuanced analysis about what such service is good for and what its not.

    Metro’s goals of the pilot that you mention: we feel can complement our fixed route service, offer riders quicker transit trips and save some folks money as a less pricey on-demand service.

    This is not at all contrary to Walker’s analysis. What goes unsaid is the point of Walker’s article that there is a sizable trade-off of cost v benefit, meaning for the same money, Metro could provide much more reliable frequent service to more people, which is instead going to just help “some folks”.

    Maybe Metro feels the need to get numbers behind it so it can be said, “Well, we tried it, and this is how much money it wasted”
    If not, then Metro should be upfront about this pilot being to support expanding coverage, and that low ridership is an accepted tradeoff.

    It helps no-one to not set reasonable expectations of the pilot.