COVID-19 update: Monday, April 27

Photo by Adrian Hernandez/LA Metro.

•The latest numbers from the L.A. County Department of Public Health:

Metro bus and rail service continues for essential trips only. We recommend that all riders wear a face covering or mask while riding transit. On buses, enter and exit using the rear doors with the front door reserved only for wheelchair users. You do not need to use the farebox, but please be in possession of a valid Metro fare.

What’s an essential trip? Work to essential jobs (and there are many jobs considered essential), visiting a doctor or vet, obtaining medical supplies or medication, grocery shopping for yourself or others,  providing care for minors, seniors, dependents and persons with disabilities or other vulnerabilities, legally mandated government purposes and to comply with law enforcement or court orders.

To put it more succinctly, please stay home if you can.

•We’re running Sunday service every day of the week along with some bus lines that don’t usually operate on Sundays. Here’s the list of what’s in service, along with some updates we’ve made to address rider concerns about social distancing and crowding.

Metro is posting its COVID-19 cases here.

•Circulate San Diego, a nonprofit that promotes more mobility choices, released this white paper on essential travel, neatly summed up by this graphic:

In the news…

•Six L.A. Counties in the Bay Area today extended safer-at-home orders through May although said some restrictions may be eased; but with no particulars offered. Excerpt:

[San Francisco Mayor London] Breed added that testing and personal protective equipment must be adequate before any lifting of the order, and hospitals must be ready for another surge of infections.

The NYT reports that there are now more than 50,000 deaths due to COVID-19 in the United States.

•Some great pics of Angelenos in their face coverings and masks during the Spanish Flu outbreak from 1918-20 as found in the Huntington Library archives.

•The LAT op-ed page offers up an opinion piece headlined: “What it would take to keep L.A. traffic from returning to soul-crushing levels?” The article concluded:

Apparently neither the soul-crushing traffic nor the cataclysmic threat of global climate change is enough to convince us to change our behavior. So, make good use of the extra time in your day while you have it. It’s not likely to last.

Well, okay!

Thank goodness for the comments section. One smart reader recommends incentivizing telecommuting — or even punishing workplaces that won’t embrace telecommuting. The idea is that telecommuting pulls enough cars from the road to make for better commutes for those who must go to work.

Prior to the pandemic, about five percent of L.A. County commuters telecommuted. That’s not much considering we’re living in the Digital Age. As Metro’s CEO Phil Washington told the Metro Board last week, the agency is forming an internal task force that will make some recommendations about mobility improvements that could make sense now. Stay tuned.

Also on the LAT op-ed page, Joel Kotkin argues that our region isn’t being as hit hard by the coronavirus because sprawl is working in our favor. Excerpt:

After this crisis, deeper research will explain why some regions of the country were able to fend off infection more effectively than others. But clearly, differences in employment and housing patterns and transit modes appear to be very significant, if not decisive, factors.

To put it another way, he’s saying that deeper research will prove he’s right. That assumes, of course, we’ll soon be out of the woods virus-wise. FWIW, the number of virus-related deaths in L.A. County doubled in the past week, so says the LAT’s news side.

It’s worth knowing that Kotkin has long argued that most residents like our region perfectly well the sprawling way that it is. As a result, efforts to densify or urbanize and build a mass transit system won’t work. He likes to cite Metro’s ridership as proof, often overlooking other factors that likely influence ridership.

I slightly agree with him on one point: I do think there are a lot of So Cal residents who like many aspects of our region and aren’t looking for a wholesale planning revolution. That said…I also think there are many people — like me — who believe we can do a lot better planning within the existing sprawl by adding transit, density where it could work and safer, people-friendly streets.


Department of Distraction:

In a nod to National Poetry Month, a lil’ something from the Metro Art archives:

And repeated viewings of this might help calm rattled nerves…

4 replies

  1. I couldn’t locate the Spanish Flu pictures from the Huntington with your link, or even trying some digging myself!

  2. What does this mean? “You do not need to use the farebox, but please be in possession of a valid Metro fare.”

    • Hi Joan;

      It means have a TAP card loaded with a valid fare with you or enough cash to cover a fare. But you don’t need to use the farebox.

      Steve Hymon
      Editor, The Source