Metro News Now, Sept. 10: Blue Line, transit ridership in the U.S.

In the News #1: Metro announced today that the Blue Line will fully reopen in late October with more time needed for testing. Here’s the post.

In the News #2: Work continues to fix the downed overhead wires on the Gold Line in Pasadena. The most recent service update along with rider reaction:

Dodger Stadium Express Playoffs Update: The Dodgers have a chance to clinch the NL West tonight against the majors’ second-worst team, the Orioles. Assuming the Dodgers also can clinch the No. 1 or 2 seed in the NL (likely but not a done deal yet), they’ll open the playoffs at home on Oct. 3. The Dodger Stadium Express will be running for all post-season action. If Blue can make it to the World Series, it should be fun as the American League is stacked this year. We’re finger-crossing for Dodgers-Twins, FWIW.

Go Metro to NFC Title Game Rematch: It’s surprising that a rematch of last year’s NFC title game — and perhaps a preview of this season’s title game — is not in prime time and is instead on Sunday in the second week of the season. This should be a terrific game featuring two very good teams trying to out-duel each other while overcoming the bizarro world of NFL officiating. The Expo Line is a good way to travel to the Coliseum and skip traffic hassles in the Expo Park area. Deets here.

In the news…

Yonah Freemark looks at declining transit ridership across the U.S. and compares it to rising ridership in France. His verdict: France has invested in better service and America has not. Lots of reaction below:

•Lyft is renting cars in a few markets, reports Jalopnik, which concludes “the rental car experiment by Lyft seems to be a case of the company looking at a lucrative industry and deciding that it wants in, even if it can’t offer a better experience. And like the scooter service, bookings are handled in the same Lyft app that you use to hail rides.”

•Metro, the LAUSD and a couple of nonprofits are partnering to give the entire junior class at Manual Arts Senior High School free transit for the school year (a student TAP card would normally cost $24 a month), reports LAist. The idea is to see if students use transit more. The high school is on Vermont Avenue near Exposition Park so it’s near plenty of bus and rail service.

•The LAT editorial page likes the city of L.A.’s Transit-Oriented Communities program, which has resulted in nearly 20,000 units being proposed near bus and rail stations. Not-a-shocker: the program is facing a legal challenge by a slow-growth group.

•Getting housing built in California and many U.S. metro areas has been tough since the housing boom, reports Citylab. One issue: it’s harder to find space to construct multi-unit buildings, the reason some cities are upzoning.

Things to watch whilst transiting: good video by Smithsonian on photographer Robert Frank, who passed away on Monday. If you’re unfamiliar and into photography, his work is must see — he criss-crossed America by car in the 1950s shooting many thousands of pics that were whittled down to 83 that appeared in his book “The Americans.” Here’s the obit in the NYT along with many of his photos.

Things to listen to whilst transiting: These guys, called Whitney, are pretty good. Here’s the new album on Spotify and iTunes.

Things to read whilst transiting: this blog post is a couple years old but the advice remains good — I’m talking to you, younger colleagues — on how to rebuild your attention span and brain after years of internetting, streaming and gawking at your phone.


11 replies

  1. Yesterday, Sept 12th, I was riding the Gold Line from Del Mar to Arcadia. A filthy man came on board with an old baby stroller filled with plastic bags stuffed with cans and empty plastic bottles. He positioned his stroller near a door, adjusted the bags so they wouldn’t fall, and took a small package of french fries out, sat down on one of the seats and while facing the aisle, he ate his snack, and dropped 3 or 4 on the floor, saw them, and ignored them. Then he had a can of soda, opened it and drank it, tossed some old snack wrappers over his shoulder, and then went back to his load of junk. I did not say anything because I avoid confrontation…..why didn’t the operator see this on his camera monitor? All the other passengers were either talking to their seat partners or listening to their music on earbuds. This guy most likely did not pay any fare……I’m willing to bet on it. No wonder ridership has lessened, many people are afraid to be in the midst of these messy (and usually smelly) freeloaders. I know several friends who used to take the Gold Line to restaurants, theatres, etc. in downtown L.A. but now refuse to do so, especially at night. Too bad we can’t have a safer and more civil environment on our Metro lines.

    • Hi Morley;

      Very sorry about your experience. There are multiple cameras on the trains with videos being recorded. The operators are trained for good reason to focus on operating trains. There are police who patrol our system, but they’re not on every train or every rail car — that is one way we try to prevent such behavior. I agree it’s best to avoid confrontations. One thing you could do, if you wish, is contact security via the Transit Watch app when you encounter problems on the train in which no one is in any kind of danger (in that case, you should call 9-1-1 and try to notify the train operator via the call button). That doesn’t guarantee a response and let’s face it, security may have other calls that are more important than an eating-on-the-train offense, no matter how aggravating it may be to other riders (and I agree–it’s very annoying).

      I agree with your point about maintaining a civil environment on Metro and I agree there are consequences when it doesn’t happen. The vast majority of our riders follow the rules but the ones who do not, certainly have an impact.

      Steve Hymon
      Editor, The Source

  2. Declining? Then why are the expo line trains always overflowing at rush hour? It’s always uncomfortably crowded between 7am-9am and 5pm-7pm monday thru friday. Busses along Wilshire as well. Why are people so out of touch?

    • Like I get that’s it’s completely idiotic for Metro to be lowering frequency on it’s really busy lines, especially it’s rail lines (That’s on them and instead of figuring out a way to solve the problem, they are moving the blame). The truth is, once you see the bigger picture, ridership has in fact fallen. What were once packed bus routes that needed 60ft Artics are now running half empty 40ft buses.

  3. Regarding declining ridership, I’m astounded that Metro does not offer discounts to public sector employees. I have worked for school districts with offices close to metro stations, and when I asked about discounts, I was given a “are you crazy” look.

    • Hey Bob and Joe — thanks for catching that and letting me know. Fixed!

      Steve Hymon
      Editor, The Source

  4. Yonah: Though I have patronized light rail trains and streetcars in other cities around the world, I can only comment on the ridership and lack thereof, in reference to Los Angeles Metro. I grew up in Los Angeles and remember riding on the Pacific Electric and Los Angeles Transit Lines for many years. After a 50 year gap in having rail transit in the Greater Los Angeles area people have become less apt to ride Metro as most of us have cars (if not just one, many have two, and some have three). One way to increase the ridership is to take the fright out of riding with those people who bring all their belongings with them, take up several seats, have foul-smelling hygiene, and for what I have seen, do not pay for their ride. They sleep on the whole distance of the ride, and then return without even stirring. The turnstiles LA Metro has are very simply designed and allow people to jump the gate or squeeze through. Better turnstiles as are the norm in most European transit stations would help to keep out many of the homeless and probably those who have mental issues and continuously frighten riders with their comments, insults, and sometimes their loud threatening remarks. The LA Metro system is relatively clean and well run, but ridership will not increase until measures that I have described above are introduced. The Metro rails are finally reaching out to communities once served by the interurban rail (PE) we had years ago. If we improve what we have now, it will become a solid basis for what we build in the future.