COVID-19 update and Metro News; Feb. 3, 2021

•Let’s start with agency news — Metro CEO Phil Washington today announced that he will step down in May and will not seek to have his contract renewed. Here’s the Source post which touches on many of Phil’s accomplishments since joining Metro in 2015.

•With COVID-19 cases declining — but still high — L.A. County remains in the state’s most restrictive tier. Metro continues to run about 80 percent of its pre-pandemic service for those making essential trips.

•As you likely know, the L.A. County Department of Public Health modified its COVID-19 safer-at-home health orders last Friday. Among the changes: outdoor dining at restaurants was allowed to resume (with modifications) and restrictions on small gatherings were slightly eased so that three households could get together.

•The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Saturday also issued a federal rule requiring people to ride face masks while traveling on airplanes, ships, ferries, trains, subways, buses, taxis, and ride-shares. Metro has been requiring riders to wear face coverings since early May 2020 and the agency is working to ensure our rules align with the new federal rules.

•Although new COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations in our region have been declining in the past two weeks, we’re still seeing more new daily cases than in the earlier months of the pandemic. Here’s a good NYT podcast on the state of the pandemic. The way they see it, it’s basically a race between vaccinations and virus variants.

•The New York MTA last week debuted a new visual memorial to the 136 employees who have died of COVID-19. It’s immensely powerful. Watch below.

•The LAT Editorial Page supports a new city of L.A. effort to build more bus shelters via a new ad contract. The last ad deal, dating back two decades, got 700 bus shelters built but in a helter skelter way that still has left 75 percent of Metro bus stops without shelter. A new deal is out to bid and the city wants to build 3,000 bus shelters. Here’s what the city is aiming for:

•Also in federal government news: Pete Buttigieg was confirmed by the U.S. Senate on Wednesday as U.S. Transportation Secretary. He’s the first openly gay Cabinet member. The Washington Post looks at the different directions Buttigieg, the former South Bend mayor and Presidential candidate, can go with the job.

•And more D.C. news: U.S. Senator Alex Padilla — who hails from Pacoima — was named to serve on the Committee on Environment and Public Works (EPW). That’s the committee that writes a big chunk of the multi-year transpo funding bills. Those bills set the nation’s priorities when it comes to getting around — and set the agenda for things like mass transit.

•Spurred by the tweet below, here’s a nice reminder on Medium that even though ridership is down at most transit agencies, many people still depend on public transit.

If you dive into the stream, btw, the original tweet came from a supporter and rider of transit — and wasn’t intended as a dig. In terms of ridership, Metro’s ridership continues to be down by about half from the Pre-Hanks/Wilson Era (aka The Before Times). Which is not as big a drop as some big city agencies — and an indicator of how many riders depend on us to get around.

•If you’ve ever wondered how cities figure out how much greenhouse gases they’re emitting — from tens of thousands or more sources — then you should read this NYT article. Bottom line: a new study finds cities are bad at guesstimating with some (Cleveland) vastly underestimating what their belching out and others (Palo Alto) overestimating. The study compares city estimates to data from other sources — which, of course, assumes that data is correct. Hmm-ity, hmm-ity.

•Several large automakers dropped out of a lawsuit that sought to stop California from setting its own vehicle emission standards, reports Reuters. These include Toyota, Fiat Chrysler, Hyundai Motor, Kia Motors, Mitsubishi Motors, Mazda Motor and Subaru Corp.

Other large automakers had already dropped the suit. Gistiness of it: the lawsuit was part of a big tug-of-war between the Obama and Trump administrations over setting national fuel mileage standards. Obama’s were higher, Trump’s were not nearly as high. President Biden is working with automakers to keep standards high — automakers feared California’s rules, which some other states follow.

Of course, if all automakers go electric — as GM says it will do by 2035 — then gasoline mileage is somewhat moot point. But thus far the talk about things like all-electric cars and driverless cars and other wonders of technology has largely been talk. Whether manufacturers and consumers will Walk The Walk in abundance remains to be seen.

•Can’t wait for the day we can start Going Metro to sports events, including NFL football. While the Chargers appear set at QB, the Rams traded Jared Goff to the Detroit Lions (i.e. the Cincinnati Bengals of the NFC) for Matthew Stafford last weekend. The LAT has a good article this a.m. on Goff’s side of the story.

2 replies

  1. Electric cars is a moot point if no one can afford it. While California will stop allowing sales, it doesn’t stop someone from crossing state lines to keep buying gasoline cars. California doesn’t do anyone favors by not making electricity cheap. It’s scarcer for California to have power plants. It’s forced to buy electricity from other states. Thus importing electricity from sources it can’t control and making it more expensive for households. We will all live in poverty.

  2. California doesn’t offer anybody courtesies by not making power modest. It’s more difficult to find for California to have power plants. It’s compelled to purchase power from different states.