COVID-19 update, Tuesday, August 18

•Please stay safe during the ongoing heat wave — stay hydrated and try to find shade if you’re out. It’s currently about 104 degrees in my neck of the woods in Pasadena.

•Virtual public hearings begin later today for Metro’s draft NextGen plan to improve bus frequencies, speeds and to restructure our bus routes to better match our riders travel patterns even both now with COVID and moving forward post-COVID. Click here for times and dates of the meetings.

Even with Metro running about 80 percent of our pre-pandemic service because of lower ridership and the impact on operating funding and resources from COVID, we’re aiming to get the NextGen plan approved by the Metro Board this fall. That will allow us to begin to implement the new route structure better matched to our riders needs as the economy recovers and we build back frequencies post-COVID-19.

Please see this Source post for particulars on the draft NextGen plan and maps of changes to routes.

NextGen highlights in four easy-to-digest points:

–Frequent all day service for 83 percent of current riders compared to 48 percent today.

–The number of frequent bus lines running every five to 10 minutes on weekdays would jump from 16 to 29 and from two to 14 on weekends.

–The number of Los Angeles County residents within walking distance of frequent bus service would more than double from 900,000 currently to almost 2.2 million.

–The number of jobs in L.A. County accessible via frequent all-day service would almost double from 629,037 currently to 1,232,881.

•Some project news from the third section of the D (Purple) Line Extension, which runs between Century City and the Westwood VA Hospital with a station at Wilshire and Westwood:

•A post-heat wave bike ride sounds nice:

 

•Over on the Crenshaw/LAX Line project, here’s a recent pic of the Leimert Park station entrance:

•The pandemic has been a financial gut punch to many an industry, including public transit. Metro is facing a deficit of at least $1 billion due to increased costs and declining revenues — most prominently from the sales taxes that help support the agency.

The L.A. Times editorial page urges Congress to take action and provide $32 billion to U.S. transit agencies, including $3 billion to California providers. Excerpt:

And as we’re seeing today, workers who are vital to a functioning economy rely on bus and train service to get to their jobs. As bad as the recession is now, it would be considerably worse if those services collapsed. California and the U.S. have wisely invested in public transit. We cannot let COVID-19 undermine the vision for a modern, fast, clean and equitable transportation system.

Can’t argue with that. I know it’s hard to see beyond the pandemic, but I’m of the view that there will be a ‘beyond’ and people will return to things like transit, gyms, restaurants, movie theaters, etc.*

Not everyone agrees. In an op-ed in the Santa Monica Daily Mirror, columnist Tom Elias says it will be years until faith is restored in transit and, thus, we should suspend building big projects** until we know if people will ride them.

Strongly disagree! I think halting the projects would be a huge mistake. It has been hard enough to get some of the projects built that are presently under construction. Delays likely mean increased costs and waiting even longer to have alternatives to traffic (and, no, traffic has not gone extinct).

Plus this: these projects are built to be in place for many decades to come. Our region took a years-long nap in the 20th century in terms of building modern transit. In the last 30-plus years, we’ve been trying to make up lost ground. Let’s not repeat the mistakes of the recent past.

*See: Spanish Flu and Roaring ’20s.

**The op-ed is silent on the issue of LAX, which is amid a series of upgrades and is also in the business of moving people. Flying’s down. But you really think it’s going to stay that way?

Interesting op-ed in the NYT cautioning against fleeing to the ‘burbs during the pandemic. Excerpt:

Now the cycle has come around again, as the middle class flees cities in pandemic panic, seeking unpolluted — yet car-dependent — places. But we need to pay attention to the tragic fate of the garden cities that Howard and Wright dreamed of nearly a century ago.

Ultimately, the garden city future is a false Utopia. The answer to our current problems isn’t to run away from the metropolis. Rather, we need to build better social support systems for people in cities so that urban life becomes healthier, safer and more sustainable.

Hmm. It’s hard to tell exactly how pronounced the flight to the ‘burbs is — there’s anecdotal info that listings are up in cities such as S.F. and NYC, for example.

I also tend to think that the time is ripe for some folks to leave cities and head to the ‘burbs and beyond — i.e. small towns.

After many decades or people flocking to cities in the U.S., we now have a very real housing shortage in cities featuring very pricey rents and real estate prices. Most of my younger acquaintances have little ability to purchase a home without going to the distant ‘burbs.

Even before the pandemic hit, I think many people were questioning if big city life was worth it. The internet has shrunk the world and I think many people want a simpler life. Rural America has ample cheap housing and business space and elbow room.

Your thoughts?

 

 

 

2 replies

  1. Now the cycle has come around again, as the middle class flees cities in pandemic panic, seeking unpolluted — yet car-dependent — places. Re this comment . Maybe many are leaving because the cities are turning to crap under democratic leaders.

  2. I don’t know about fleeing to the suburbs but I do think that a lot of people might be just as happy or happier in a smaller cities and towns. I’ve lived in suburbs, college towns, small towns, and the country. They all — even the suburbs — have their charms.There are also too many Angelenos who wish that this city was a suburb — fighting against density, transit, and affordable housing.

    If you love the diversity, the Channel Islands, the mountains and hiking trails, the night markets, and the Streamline Moderne apartments — you’re not going to find that anywhere else. If, on the other hand, your favorite things include ample free street parking, large fallow grass lawns, weekend dinners at Applebee’s, and watching Netflix — you seriously should consider a place like Cedar Rapids. You might really like it!