COVID-19 update and transpo headlines; Wednesday, Dec. 16

As it has for much of 2020, Metro’s messaging remains the same: we’re here to provide essential rides — whether to work or other critical destinations.

Riders are required to wear a face covering (with the exception of those who can’t due to a medical condition). As far as we can tell, compliance has been very good thus far — and we really need it to stay that way for the safety of all riders, our employees and, quite frankly, everyone in L.A. County.

With COVID-19 cases greatly increasing in California and the nation in recent weeks, we’re also pushing messaging from the L.A. County Department of Health. While it’s welcome news that vaccinations have begun, we’re still in a dire situation as hospitals fill up. We want space in our local hospitals for everyone who needs care.

UPDATE, Wednesday 4:30 p.m.: The situation only gets more dire.

We’ve received some questions about why bus and train operators are not enforcing face coverings. Here’s a recent Source post that explains the answer — we want operators to focus on operating their vehicles while law enforcement handles face coverings).

A lot of people are out and about for a variety of reasons (including making a living!). Traffic may not be at pre-pandemic levels but it has certainly picked up. Here’s what it looked like at 4 p.m. on Tuesday. Hard to know what to say about the 10 freeway between DTLA and Santa Monica that’s printable.

Credit: Google Maps.

Quasi-related and pretty cool from my colleague John Gordon:

Some other agency news:

•Metro began implementing its NextGen Bus Plan this past Sunday to offer more frequent service on many routes and to reroute some buses to better meet today’s travel patterns. Here’s a roundup of the changes.

We haven’t received a ton of feedback — most has been along the lines of what is happening with the Rapid lines. The answer: in 12 corridors we’re combining local and rapid routes to offer more frequent service overall. The new lines stop a few less times than a local line and a few more than a rapid. We think this will better serve most riders who can now get on the first bus that arrives in these corridors.

•Metro also launched its Metro Micro on-demand service on Sunday in two zones — LAX/Inglewood and Watts/Willowbrook. See this Source post for more info about the service and the deets on ordering a ride.

•On Monday, Metro’s Recovery Task Force released their draft final report with 17 recommendations to help Metro and our region recover from the ongoing pandemic. Some pretty interesting and big ideas. Check out this Source post. Some of the recs may not be the sexiest of beasts, but I thought there was  a lot of interestingness in there with some good ideas how to save some Benjamins.

•After many weeks of talk, two COVID stimulus bills with bipartisan support burped forth from Congress on Monday. About $15 billion would go to help public transit agencies around the U.S. although transit advocates — including the American Public Transportation Assn. (of which Metro is a member) — are pushing for $32 billion. Fans of Math might observe there’s a wide chasm between the two numbers. More in this Source post.

The LAT published an editorial this week urging Congress to help transit agencies. Excerpt:

Public transit was already struggling in many cities before the pandemic. COVID-19 could hasten a death spiral if agencies are forced to continue cutting service and sacrificing riders. The biggest losers would be the most vulnerable residents, including low-income workers, the disabled and students. The nation also needs strong transportation systems to help cut vehicle emissions and fight climate change. Once in office, President-elect Joe Biden and his pick for Transportation secretary, Pete Buttigieg, will have to move quickly, along with Congress, to bolster public transit systems.

In the media….

•President-elect Joe Biden nominated former South Bend, Indiana, mayor and presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg to be the Secretary of Transportation.

It’s not surprising that climate change will be a big part of the job. The transportation sector in the U.S. is the largest contributor to greenhouse gases because of its reliance on fossil fuels (see below). The U.S. Department of Transportation plays a big role in setting vehicle mileage standards (along with the U.S. EPA) that could cut emissions. Along with putting in place policies that regulate railroads, ships and planes (all big emitters).

Quick note #1: In recent times, being a mayor has proven to be a viable path to the job. Charlotte mayor Anthony Foxx was tabbed by President Obama for the job in 2013. Yeah, I know — 2013 feels like very ancient history in 2020.

Quick note #2: federal oversight of roads and vehicles, railroads, mass transit, shipping and aviation is important because all these cross state lines. However….a lot of the decisions that influence how you get around places like Los Angeles County are made in…Los Angeles County with your local elected officials calling the shots.

•On the subject of climate change, Steve Lopez of the LAT has a powerful column on how much we’re already seeing changes in California and how little he wants this to be the new normal. Highly concur.

•Although not a mobility story per se, the NYT has a great story about how climate change and wildfires are negatively impacting three iconic trees found in California — the Joshua Tree, giant sequoias and redwoods.



4 replies

  1. Steve, enough with the excuses and more with reality. Concerning your last statement concerning overcrowding on buses and predictions. Via the radio system on buses and trains the actual count of the number of passengers on board can be accessed at anytime for each vehicle. I used this part of the system when Bus Operators reported Wheelchair pass-up due to overcrowding and was able to ascertain the exact number of passengers on the bus at the time of the report. Wearing masks is only part of the problem. The virus is spread also by contact with hand rails and seats. Since the buses are cleaned only once a day usually one must multiply the number of trips per day by the the average number of passengers to estimate the number of positivity contacts. As I have stated previously, while buses and trains are essential services, they are the most dangerous environment next to hospital where one is exposed to the virus. Not politically correct but the hard truth.

    • Cannot agree more!

      Please take care of the clear and present danger before dreaming about the future.

      The Metro Rail rolling stocks are beyond filthy. They are literally rolling toilets that are not flushed until the end of the day, if at all.

  2. Metro is telling us the same old nonsense regarding face masks. I usually ride the bus approximately twice a week to go shopping or for an occasional errand. Passengers’ compliance with mask wearing in NOT good. I normally observe one or two persons on each bus who are not wearing a face mask properly. The buses themselves are often overcrowded.

    I have NEVER seen a Metro employee or anyone else distributing face masks to anyone who needs one.

    I have Never observed a police officer, a security officer, a homeless service provider, a civilian outreach person, or anyone else encourage anyone to wear a face mask.

    I am appreciative that the majority of passengers are wearing face masks, and acting responsibly. But too many people are not doing so, and Metro is doing NOTHING about it.

    • Hi Dominick;

      If you see law enforcement or security not wearing a mask, please provide the details. And if you’re seeing a particular bus route where compliance is poor, same thing — give us the details. As for the crowding issue, again please provide us with the details — route, day, time and direction of travel. The service changes that went into effect Sunday are bulking up service on some routes and that might help. You may also want to use our official app, the Transit app, that has crowding predictions. Thank you,

      Steve Hymon
      Editor, The Source