COVID-19 update and Metro News; June 15, 2021

After a long slog of a pandemic, today is “reopening” day across California — meaning some COVID-related rules are changing. ONE THAT IS NOT CHANGING: all riders on public transit are still required to wear masks, as per federal rules.

We appreciate everyone’s cooperation as we work to make transit as safe as possible.

•There are five COVID-19 vaccination clinics at Metro stations to make it as easy to get your shot — and it’s free! All the details here. Due to today’s heat, please note this change for the El Monte Station:

Due to today’s heatwave, transit riders planning to use the vaccination site at Metro’s El Monte Station between the hours of 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. will be redirected to a different location at Sunshine Park, 515 Deepmead Ave, La Puente, CA 91744.  Metro’s vaccine site vendor, Fulgent Genetics, has rescheduled all pre-existing appointments.  Any others seeking to obtain their vaccines tomorrow at El Monte Station can check if there are any other vaccine sites available to them by visiting  Patrons can also call 626-800-8467 for more information.  All other vaccination sites on Metro station properties will not be affected.

•Metro bus and rail service changes begin June 27 with Metro adding more frequent bus and rail trips as the economy reopens and ridership ticks upward. More info here.

•Headed to the Dodgers game? Metro’s Dodger Stadium Express is running from both Harbor Gateway and Union Station to the ballpark. It’s a good way to avoid traffic and parking fees. Deets here. Although I may not be the biggest Dodger fan on el mundo, here’s hoping the Reds can inflict damage to the Padres in their four-game tilt this weekend.

And in the news….

•After years of offering cheap rides and serving as cheap taxis, the Ubers and Lyfts of the world seem to have raised prices in their quest to actually make a profit. The issue: Silicon Valley venture capitalists/overlords are growing weary of shoveling money into a pit, so says the Chicago Tribune.

Fun + pithy excerpt:

A few years ago, while on a work trip in Los Angeles, I hailed an Uber for a crosstown ride during rush hour. I knew it would be a long trip, and I steeled myself to fork over $60 or $70.

Instead, the app spit out a price that made my jaw drop: $16.

Experiences like these were common during the golden era of the Millennial Lifestyle Subsidy, which is what I like to call the period from roughly 2012 through early 2020, when many of the daily activities of big-city 20- and 30-somethings were being quietly underwritten by Silicon Valley venture capitalists.
•Both the LAT and the NYT ponder commuting in the Reopened LaLaLand and Gotham. Both newspapers reach similar conclusions: traffic is pretty much back but we don’t necessarily have to return to a gridlocked world.
•And this…
The NYT says what we’ve been saying in this space — the world doesn’t require a massive wave of telecommuting to peel back rush hour just enough to keep it moving and to ease crowding on transit. Excerpt of note:
“Transportation historically has changed very slowly,” said Steven Polzin, a former senior adviser for research and technology at the federal Department of Transportation. What we’re talking about now “is dramatic relative to the pace of change we’ve seen.”

In 1980, about 2.3 percent of workers said they usually telecommuted, according to census data. By 2018, it was 5.7 percent. Now researchers are projecting that share could double or more effectively overnight.

Ms. Salon, who has conducted national surveys over the past year with colleagues at Arizona State and the University of Illinois at Chicago, finds that the share of workers who expect to telecommute at least a few times each week is double what it was prepandemic. That’s a large increase in telecommuting, she said, without a large increase in people doing it full time.

The LAT offers this graph — although I’ve yet to meet anyone who has quit or moved over their commute.

Informed that they will be expected to return to the office at least part time, workers are scrambling to lessen or eliminate their former commutes by moving closer to work, negotiating new terms with their managers, switching jobs or quitting altogether.

And then the NYT Magazine offers up this thinkpiece on remote work and what may change at the office. I thought these graphs were important:

That question and others like it have been caroming around white-collar, office-work America for months now. In a May working paper, Erik Brynjolfsson, a professor in management science at M.I.T., and a group of academics reported survey results indicating that half of those who were employed before the pandemic were now working remotely. That’s a significant increase — pre-Covid-19, the paper estimates, the figure was about 15 percent. (In 2018, a U.S. Census Bureau survey found that just 5.3 percent of Americans worked from home full time.) It’s a situation deeply skewed toward the privileged: Many employees who work in health care, public transportation or the service sector, for instance, have never been given the option to work remotely, during the crisis or before. At companies where remote work is possible, though, many now expect it to continue for quite some time. As Kass told me, the remote experience at SoftBank Robotics is “absolutely going to change the way we think about as a company who needs to be in the office and not.”

The coronavirus crisis is forcing white-collar America to reconsider nearly every aspect of office life. Some practices now seem to be wastes of time, happily discarded; others seem to be unexpectedly crucial, and impossible to replicate online. For workers wondering right now if they’re ever going back to the office, the most honest answer is this: Even if they do, the office might never be the same.

My three cents on all of this: I like the NYT and others have hammered home the point that remote work often skews toward the privileged (and benefits them). I also agree that remote work can be very productive but think there are aspects of being in a work setting that are positive. Like seeing people and talking to them face-to-face. Example: email. Until someone invents Nuance-a-nator for email, email will continue to induce regular Rage Spirals among those obliged to use it.

I also think rush hour as we know it is madness — often not benefiting anyone. As I’ve said in the past, one upside of some remote work could be that it benefits those who have to go to work by offering them more humane traffic/transit commutes. That seems to be something close to a win-win and we know now that many industries could not only survive, but perhaps benefit, from those who work at home and take their work seriously.


As the mercury rises today, this…

4 replies

  1. Thought the pandemic might have changed society a little for the better but we went back to worse than we were. Telecommuting should be prioritized over going to an office simply so a manager can express his authority over those beneath him. So people who live miles away from their jobs can clog the streets and choke our air once more. We were all told to self isolate for a year when self isolation is the mantra of Los Angeles. Oblivious in our car bubbles, in our head phones in public, in our faces buried in our phones at all hours of the day. I remember before the pandemic riding the bus every seat would be taken but not really just every person would sit on the aisle seat with the mindset most people would be too timid to ask them to move over or get out of the way so someone else could sit down. We are a valid, careless, inhuman society out here that cares more about our service dogs than our service men. And reading previous comments on getting rid of the fare for bus rides and just the pure unabashed bigotry and callousness towards homeless people who would camp on the busses and spread disease. Well it’s summer and already almost 100 degrees outside should they remain to sweat to death in their tents? God forbid they might have reprieve of the elements. People complain about fares on busses yet they aren’t even the ones riding them. You want a revenue solution follow the east coast model on transportation and put a toll booth at every entrance and every exit on every free way. 5 dollar minimum each toll. You will see a reduction in traffic like never before. Have cars pass an inspection not just a smog check so we get rid of half the breaking cars on the roads. Put up temporary housing for homeless in parking lots to reduce the amount of parking spaces available while increasing parking meter rates by 50 fold.. Less affordable parking means less driving. Uber and Lyft drivers should designate planned routes to make carpooling an actual thing like they were created for. But yeah telecommute, tear up some of these nonsense roads .Make LA green and walkable. Literally LA is nothing but concrete and asphalt populated by uncaring, unsympathetic asshats that care more about having to smell a homeless person than caring to do something to help them not smell. If this shallow behavior is what remains after we were given a year to change things for the better then I pray for earthquakes and droughts and fires and famines and pestilance. That every shining house stop a hill come sliding down into the valley they so despise. Karma is a goddess. Be kind to misers as she is oft one in disguise.

  2. “As I’ve said in the past, one upside of some remote work could be that it benefits those who have to go to work by offering them more humane traffic/transit commutes. That seems to be something close to a win-win and we know now that many industries could not only survive, but perhaps benefit, from those who work at home and take their work seriously.”

    It seems like the triple convergence would reduce those gains though, although interestingly that seems to happen more in the evenings. My morning drive is much faster than pre-pandemic (although nowhere near as fast as in, say, June), but the afternoon drive seems worse than before COVID.

    • Hey Henry –

      I liked the point one article made about maybe allowing employees to come in later in the a.m. to spread out the morning rush — although I wonder if that just results in ultimately a longer rush hour. As for rush hour, I haven’t done a lot of rush hour driving in recent weeks but things still seem to me a bit lighter than usual. I had to haul a bunch of photo equipment etc from Pasadena to Westwood and Century City for recent PLE morning events and made it to both in a little more than hour — something that would have been hard to do in Before Times. I also live near the 210 and the 210 through Pas is back to its usual Freddy Krueger/Jason/Michael Myers self. Grr.

      Steve Hymon
      Editor, The Source