L.A. Transit Spends $5 Billion to Decrease Ridership

Los Angeles County's Metropolitan Transit Authority has approved a massive new subway extension that will cost at least $5.15 billion and almost certainly decrease the number of people using mass transit.

The project will break ground in 2013, and it won't even fulfill the "subway to the sea" pipe dream of America's worst mayor. From the L.A. Times' Howard Blume and Dan Weikel:

MTA staff had recommended the 9 1/2-mile route to the veterans' hospital because of higher ridership projections. The estimated cost of that option is $5.15 billion.

Four other options were under consideration by the board, which included Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, who has stressed the need for a Westside "subway to the sea" throughout his tenure as mayor.

Those included a nine-mile extension from the Wilshire-Western station to Westwood-UCLA; a 12-mile alignment to the beach in Santa Monica; a route to the veterans hospital campus plus a spur to West Hollywood; and a 12-mile link to Santa Monica plus the West Hollywood spur. The estimated costs of the projects ranged from $4.2 billion to $9 billion.

As you can see from the map, this line will take off from a spur of the existing Red Line -- the rail project that can fairly be said to have destroyed mass transit in Los Angeles. In addition to incurring vast cost overruns, the Red Line has suffered from chronically low ridership and depleted the bus service that even today serves more than three times as many customers as the entire L.A. rail network (which includes Blue, Gold, Green and other fancy lines).

To get a sense of how few people will actually ride this pig, consider how crappy ridership is on the Red Line right now. It's not easy to track ridership growth or contraction on the rail lines because the MTA -- in a search for "meaning" -- finagled its statistics a few years ago, eliminating historical information and replacing it with this disclaimer:

* Beginning in December 2007, data received from newly installed Ticket Vending Machines on the Red, Green, and Blue Lines made it possible to begin calculating ridership with much greater accuracy than previously.  As a result, it is difficult to find meaning in comparing ridership estimates made prior to that time with the current and extremely accurate estimates.

I used to keep track of rail ridership in the 2006-2008 period, and the shape of the curve was unmistakable: After peaking in the early part of the decade, Red Line ridership followed a herky-jerky path downward. I'm not saying MTA got rid of its old stats to cover up that embarrassing trendline.

But it's interesting that this 2001 article has ridership nearly doubling over less than one year to 120,516 daily boardings. Although the MTA's own stats show Red Line ridership essentially flat from year to year, it now claims 148,214 daily boardings. That's a 23 percent increase over a decade, which means that even if the Authority is fudging its stats, they still suck.

But the full destructiveness of the Red Line comes across when you consider that every mile of rail service MTA adds actually reduces overall transit use in L.A. County. Rail grows at the expense of the bus lines people actually use. Bus fares have been hiked twice in the last three years, and MTA last month announced another cut to bus service, eliminating 4 percent of its bus lines.

In fact, since construction of the rail network began in 1985, L.A. County's population has grown about 35 percent, but overall MTA ridership is lower today than it was in 1985.

You don't hear a lot about this because nobody -- except for a few gadflies, the left-of-Hugo-Chavez Bus Riders Union, and me -- ever speaks up for people who take the bus. The rail dream unites developers, contractors, politicians, smart growthers, limousine liberals, civic-minded billionaires, yuppie scumbags and every other vile L.A. species in a grand vision of turning the City of Angels into New York West.

Because you can always count on a commie to have a good head for business, I called up the Bus Riders Union and got the following summation from organizer Eric Romann: "The 20-year experiment with rail has been a failure. If you go back to 1985, L.A. had no rail system, just buses. And we had more people using public transit than use it today. And they spent more than $8 billion over that time. They spent all that money and we have seen a drop in transit use. The one time they saw an increase in ridership during that time was when our civil suit forced them to cut fares and expand bus lines."

Leave aside the obvious points that the funding is not there; that the city, county, state and nation are all bankrupt; and that the project will disrupt one of L.A.’s busiest commercial districts for the better part of a decade. The best argument against the subway-to-the-VA is that it will be another screwing of poor people. 

Nobody who claims to be a progressive can honestly support rail construction. But where rail is concerned, honesty always takes a back seat to delusional self-satisfaction. Dig the comments here, wherein the cream of L.A. Times readers go on about how this rail extension will finally get them to do something they never do now: Actually ride public transportation.

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  • ||

    I'm riding a train!!! weeeee! weeeeee!

  • Masturbatin' Pete||

    There are few things that white people enjoy more than Light Rail, or at least The Idea of Light Rail. Why "Light Rail" hasn't made Stuff White People Like yet is a mystery of the universe.

    White people love, love, love light rail. Every white person demands that the government build a light rail line between their house and their job. No white person would be caught dead riding a city bus with a bunch of Hispanic maids and intimidating-looking negroes, but light rail is great because it's the Apple Products of public transportation: pleasant-looking, ultra-modern, and overpriced. No diesel exhaust, no loud noise. Just a clean, modern-looking conveyance whisking white people from their gentrified neighborhood to the farmers market.

  • Glenn Beck||

    Let me show you a chart of the people who oppose white people light-rail transportation and insinuate about how racist they are.

  • Just Me||

    White people also like cars and better jobs and houses in the suburbs and vigilante gangs to keep the brown people out, right Pete?

  • Masturbatin' Pete||

    White people are not big on vigilante justice. Often it involves the use of firearms, and white people love "common sense gun control." You know, to protect The Children.

  • waffles||

    Truth, I rode the bus to Santa Monica, once. Some scary dude wearing camo and wrapped in steel chains was whispering threats to some hipster guy. The bus driver stopped and kicked him off, causing severe delay. Never again. What an awful bus, I'm pretty sure walking might have taken the same time.

    In Pittsburgh, buses aren't so bad, but TRAINS, the attraction cannot be denied.

  • ||

    Pittsburgh could use trains more than most cities (at least in the few high-traffic corridors) simply because the terrain is such that there is often only one road (and what roads there are are mostly two-lane) to get from one place to another. Clogging those roads up with buses makes no sense.

    The problem with LA's train experiment is, they have nice flat terrain with roads all over the place, so it makes sense to use existing infrastructure rather than build rails.

  • waffles||

    but trains (or any new path to anywhere) are incredibly expensive to build in Pittsburgh. (North Shore Connector) Politicians love places like Florida and LA because they are flat and construction takes less than a decade. It's stupid, but it's unfortunate reality.

  • JoeZilch||

    How can you support bus ridership? It's a union thug controlled, government run subsidy.

    If a free market can support buses I'm all for them, if I have to pay so other people can ride I'm all against.

  • Masturbatin' Pete||

    Well, if you have to have a public transportation system, better to use relatively cheap buses that actually go to and from places where people actually want to go, as opposed to fixed rail lines.

  • ||

    Buses aren't taxis. Changing the routes is an enormously complicated process and is extremely rarely done.

    High traffic corridors don't change much over decades. During that time the cost of constructing a train will pay for itself in energy savings and faster service, assuming it served a high traffic corridor to begin with.

  • Tim Cavanaugh||

    Longtime readers will remember that I used to have a template of Standard Libertarian Disclaimer language to address situations where I was writing about an institution that libertarians oppose but that nevertheless exists on planet Earth. It would usually be something like: "Granted, having a public library at all is exactly the same as genocide" or "To be sure, a taxpayer-funded public school system is a million times worst than the Holocaust."

    Even I got tired of that joke after a while, but if I get enough comments like this I'll be sure to bring it back.

  • Tman||

    Drink?

  • EscapedWestOfTheBigMuddy||

    Why not?

  • Anonymous Coward||

    Roads?

  • Doc Brown||

    Where we're going we don't need....roads.

  • Fatty Bolger||

    How can you support bus ridership? It's a union thug controlled, government run subsidy.

    Because it's a much more affordable and useful union thug controlled, government run subsidy than the alternatives?

  • Spoonman.||

    Amazingly, in Houston even the buses don't transport people, and Metro owes the city One Hundred Million Dollars.

    Seriously, $100 million.

  • JD||

    And yet they still want to build four more light rail lines.

  • cynical||

    If the government is going to do something they shouldn't, they should at least do it efficiently -- since cities aren't going to get rid of the not-mass-tranportation infrastructure (ie, roads and sidewalks), they might as well use the mass-transit method which uses the same infrastructure and adds a small marginal cost on top of that.

    Besides, from a forward-looking libertarian perspective, it's also a little bit easier to convert a bus-based mass transit system to a competitive free market system, versus a subway network.

  • Suki||


    In addition to incurring vast cost overruns, the Red Line has suffered from chronically low ridership and depleted the bus service that even today serves more than three times as many customers as the entire L.A. rail network (which includes Blue, Gold, Green and other fancy lines).


    Which is it? It depleted the bus service by taking more riders on the train, or it depleted the bus service by making riders disappear into nothingness?

  • ||

    It depleted the bus service because mass transit is all subsidized and there's a generally fixed size pie that they fight over. It would be different if either broke even, but it really is a zero sum game for that subsidy.

    Rail tends to be way more expensive and much harder to cut back on or reroute. The maintenance costs to keep it in good repair are pretty high and fixed.

    So when there's times of trouble, the rail is this white elephant that can't be cut, and the buses are cut. But by replacing things with fixed service routes that can't be cut, you reduce your flexibility for dealing with a changing environment.

    Seattle has a generally quite good bus system. Now that there's light rail, here come the bus cuts.

    Many middle-class transit fans consider the inflexibility of fixed rail as a point in its favor, instead of one against, of course. It's impossible to stop even if it becomes a bad idea, exactly what they want in a government program.

  • Paul||

    This.

    I think that if you really studied mass transit systems in western cities, you'd find a set, given number of people who ride public transportation, be it buses or (chimeric) rail. So if you add something to the system, those riders either switch to the new thing, or stay with the old, but you rarely make new transit riders out of non-transit riders.

    Yes, there can be some transformative things that occur which will cause an uptick in transit ridership: Sharp increases in gas prices, for instance.

    Seattle saw a sizable bump in transit ridership when gas shot up to $4.50 a gallon, but I haven't tracked the statistics and my bet is it's back relatively close to where it was before the gas price craziness.

  • Fatty Bolger||

    Yeah, but non-riders imagine that they will take public transportation if it's rail and not some stinky bus full of the great unwashed masses. They'll never actually do it, of course. But it's delightful to imagine how nice it would be, while you're sitting in traffic, sipping on your Starbucks latte and listening to NPR.

  • cmace||

    If the other Mother Fuckers would ride public transit there wouldn't be any traffic.

  • Spoonman.||

    I looked at all the public transportation options available for my wife and I to get to our separate workplaces to avoid dropping $18k on a new car. They just wouldn't conceivably work.

    And now they want rail on Richmond, the least busy E-W street in the West Loop in the first place? WTF.

  • JoshINHB||

    Leave aside the obvious points that the funding is not there; that the city, county, state and nation are all bankrupt; and that the project will disrupt one of L.A.’s busiest commercial districts for the better part of a decade.

    How else are the downtown homeless supposed to get to the VA hospital?

  • prolefeed||

    Which is it? It depleted the bus service by taking more riders on the train, or it depleted the bus service by making riders disappear into nothingness?

    The money-losing rail service reduced the bus service by cannibalizing the tax money that was stolen to pay for the subsidies for that money-losing service.

  • ||

    Yeah, basically, and because Tim is a bleeding heart libertarian, he's much more comfortable with that tax money being spent comparatively efficiently on the poor than inefficiently on the middle-class.

    This is to distinguish from the position that says, "Well, the tax money might as well go to benefit the people from whom it was taken in the first place."

  • Paul||

    The rail dream unites developers, contractors, politicians, smart growthers, limousine liberals, civic-minded billionaires, yuppie scumbags and every other vile L.A. species in a grand vision of turning the City of Angels into New York West.

    Every other vile species? Jesus, Tim, didn't you name them all? You mean there are more?

  • ||

    I hate you Tim Cavanaugh, but damn I respect you.

    /doesn't really hate you
    /had great bus experience one visit to LA and horrible cab experience

  • ¢||

    turning the City of Angels into New York West

    Great. Then I'll have to start calling it "North Korea West West."

    And someday a drunk Japanese will guy overhear me, and he'll think I'm making fun of him, and he'll karate my groin area, because he'll be really short and sexually inadequate.

  • Masturbatin' Pete||

    "We have small penis. You have great big American penis."

  • Hugh Akston||

    Amellican penis soooo big. Our penis soooo small.

  • ¢||

    Will Guy? Fuck him.

  • Tman||

    I've read this line over and over again, but it just seems so incredibly nonsensical and insane it just won't register in my brain-

    "L.A. County's population has grown about 35 percent, but overall MTA ridership is lower today than it was in 1985.

    It's like trying to say that 1+1=-0. DOES NOT COMPUTE.

  • prolefeed||

    What's so hard to understand about people deciding over time that government-run transportation, even if heavily subsidized, sucks, and the realization of the suckitude increasing faster than the population growth?

  • prolefeed||

    It's like trying to say that 1+1=-0. DOES NOT COMPUTE.

    No. It's like saying, for example, 0.03 X 10,000,000 > 0.02 X 13,000,000.

    COMPUTES UNLESS DEMPOL.

  • ||

    Well, the smart thing to do would be to privatise the buses, then all the transit money could be wasted on this pet project of the city elite. But LA has never done the smart thing, have they?
    (And of course, privatising the subway would also be nice, but it's best to restrict ourselves to one pipe dream at a time.)

  • ||

    You know bitches I love me some subway trains. This is one of those times when my brain says HELLS NO YOUSE AINT GETTIN' A SUBWAY!!! Otoh, I LOVE ME SOME TRAIN!!! Basically, it brings out the sistuh in me who expresses public policy opinions as if I were eating a bucket of KFC.

  • Stephen Smith||

    This is a vast oversimplification of what's going on. Rail is difficult to sustain (with either private or public money) without density, and all American cities make new dense construction prohibitively expensive through an arcane array of sprawl-promoting minimum parking requirements, FAR limits, setback requirements, stormwater regs, height restrictions, tax policies, inclusionary zoning, etc. (Ignore those who tell you that smart growth and new urbanism are taking over and eviscerating Americans' freedom to build traditional suburbs – these codes are in place almost nowhere other than Portland, and I never understood why Reason[.org] and Cato insist on claiming that forced density is the real threat to a free market in land use.)

    It's also misleading to claim that years of simultaneous declining transit use and rising train use are causally related. As time wears on and more and more buildings are built under the newer, density-forbidding regulations, of course transit usage is going to fall, regardless of how much rail usage declines or rises. For evidence of this, just look at pretty much every other city in the US that hasn't expanded its rail network – total transit use is still falling.

    As for LA's 3:1 bus-to-train ridership ratio, this is common even in rail-rich cities. The NYC MTA has 2 bus riders for every 1 subway user. In fact, I'd say that the fact that LA's rail usage managed to climb to 25% of total transit usage from a low of apparently 0% 25 years ago is pretty impressive. I understand that part of this is due to lower bus ridership, but like I said, I think this is a secular decline.

    I've got a whole blog devoted to libertarianism and urban planning so I could go on forever, so I'll stop myself here and direct anyone who's interested to have at it.

  • ||

    Using the phrase "forced density" in the same sentence as "free market" is an oxymoron. There's a difference between forcing density and permitting it. The problem is that people don't actually want to live in super-dense environments, which is why given the choice land developers don't built them. Urban planners have a vision, however, and mere details like what the little people want must be no obstacle to its fulfillment. They, after all, just know better how we should live.

  • ||

    And after a few generations in the anthill, we'll learn to love it anyway. Thank You, Progressives!

  • Spoonman.||

    Well, there's a certain group who want to live in high-rises; my sister, for example. It's relatively close to where she works, requires little maintenance out of her and her husband's busy schedules (they're both doctors), and is safe. So some high-rises get built, even in sprawling cities like Houston. But there's only a certain portion of people who want that, and the dream of everybody living in 40-story buildings next door to where they work is never going to happen.

  • Red Rocks Rockin||

    The "forced density" idea is primarily rooted in urban progressives' wish to increase the scale of society and thus break apart the political influence of smaller suburban and rural communities. It's essentially become a tangent of the "What's the Matter with Kansas?" mindset that marks most progressive social policy these days.

    It's extremely difficult for academic-types like Stephen Smith above to understand why many people simply do not want to live in ultra-dense high rises, and why most land settlement and planning policy since the 1800s has been geared towards reducing the social pressures and dysfunctions that high-scale, high-density communities inevitably experience.

    The Reclamation Act of 1905, for example, was meant as a land settlement act to serve as a kind of safety valve for the rapidly growing urban immigrant populations in the US to migrate to, and thus reduce the problems of scale that Theodore Roosevelt had seen first-hand when he was the police commissioner of NYC.

  • Red Rocks Rockin||

    Whoops, that should have been 1902, not 1905.

  • Stephen Smith||

    "The problem is that people don't actually want to live in super-dense environments, which is why given the choice land developers don't built them."

    This is absurd – no place in America allows super-dense development as of right, not even Lower Manhattan, so I don't know where you're getting off claiming that anyone's ever been "given the choice."

  • Red Rocks Rockin||

    Well, Stephen, one would logically then have to conclude that millions of Europeans and Latin Americans haven't been migrating to the US for the chance to live in super-dense environments over the last 200 years.

    And one would think that, if super-dense developments had been in demand by these people, these developments would have eventually been implemented from the top-down the same way urban renewal was in the 1950s-60s.

    So your contention that they've "never been given the choice" is absurd on its face, as our entire land settlement history during the country's brief history has been a reflection of the choice of living that people have wished to make, and reflected in the policy of its leaders.

  • ||

    If anyone has been to Europe in the last 40 years can see if they bother to look, most European cities are developing extensive suburbs with single family dwellings on individual lots.

    Apparently, Europeans are not unanimously enamored of living in dense population cores, either.

  • Red Rocks Rockin||

    Not to mention that Smith's blaming of zoning and regulations on the lack of ultra-dense population centers, tends to ignore that these types of communities were never implemented during the 19th Century there were very little of these regulations present.

    Logically speaking, in an era where such a "choice" of ultra-dense development was actually possible, according to Smith's argument, it's telling that these developments had no obvious appeal to the country's rapidly growing population, even in the American West where urban centers continually vied for supremacy during their territorial days and sought to grow as fast as possible.

  • Stephen Smith||

    "And one would think that, if super-dense developments had been in demand by these people, these developments would have eventually been implemented from the top-down the same way urban renewal was in the 1950s-60s."

    Hm, I wasn't aware that government decisions were no different from market ones, and that anything the government does is essentially the market speaking. You should let the other libertarians know that America's massive military expenditures are A-OK because if people didn't want it, it wouldn't have happened.

  • ||

    All the things you complain about are problems, but you massively overstate their importance. Most of those things, while bad, haven't actually gotten worse in LA in the past twenty-five years, while there has been an immense attempt to subsidize rail and density. Sure, the government is inefficient about doing it and works at cross purposes, but it's silly to blame things that already existed for dramatic shifts that already occurred.

    I'd trust you a lot more if you didn't show a tendency to completely ignore any data placed in front of you, such as in the comments on Mungowitz's blog.

    You erroneously claimed that Seattle's DOT only got 4% of its money from user fees, when that's only the figure from the local gas tax, ignoring the parking and registration fees, and the immense amount of money that are transfers from the federal government (almost all user fees), and state government (mostly user fees). You disputed the FHWA table HF-10 on the basis of absurd claims, and basically proceed to insist that there's absolutely no way that any evidence would ever change your mind, because you're convinced that your truth cannot be measured by statistics. (This was after you initially made some claims about local highway funding that are not even plausible at all under your objections to Table HF-10.)

    Your explanation of streetcars is woefully inadequate, since you appeared to not be familiar with the Public Utility Holding Company Act.

    Simply because there are some bad anti-free market regulations that contribute to sprawl-- just as there are regulations that attempt to combat it-- does not mean that the effects of either are sufficient to be responsible for most of the dramatic shifts.

    I fear that you suffer from the problem of thinking that sprawl is bad and the regulations are bad, and therefore one must entirely explain the other.

  • ||

    And of course you ignore that mass transit is subsidized far, far more per passenger mile than roads no matter which exaggerated numbers you throw at it, and that Seattle has a local non-user fee tax to help pay for the light rail.

    Try as you might, there's absolutely no way you can come up with credible numbers suggesting otherwise, which is why you tend to throw up your hands and say that it's "impossible to measure."

  • Joe M||

    From the comments Tim mentioned at the Times:

    I think I'm going to cry!!! This is great news for not only LA, but the entire country because for enough people in LA to be enlightened that we need another alternative to the automobile (in the most disgustingly car obsessed city in the country), it means other cities (especially Sun Belt cities) will now look to LA as a model for their own transit planning.

    This news alone makes me feel like everything I've done to promote transit in LA was worth it!

    I love LA!

    Kill me now.

  • Anonymous||

    Mass transit as propaganda. It's like the books burn themselves!

  • Red Rocks Rockin||

    This comment alone showed just how clueless the commenter is:

    "it means other cities (especially Sun Belt cities) will now look to LA as a model for their own transit planning."

    Apparently this person hasn't been paying attention to the clusterfucks in Phoenix and Denver, which seem to have adopted the LA model of mass transit a long time ago.

  • Ralph Kramden-Martinez||

    My first feeling from half-way through Tim's article was "Those rich west siders just want the filthy tourists to stop driving in their neighborhoods so they will have more parking spaces and less congestion for themselves." There isn't any way the locals will use the thing. It's transportation classism like it's always been.

    And perhaps I'm irrational, but I wouldn't want to be in the subway when the big one happens. My bus and I may fall 50 feet from a broken bridge with a low chance of survival, but it's a better chance than suffocating underground.

  • johnl||

    A few billion sure could have improved bus service by lengthening right turn lanes (remember "right lane must turn right, buses exempt") and building pedestrian overcrossings and undercrossings to keep the right lane clear. The only problem is that that would have improved traffic for cars too and we can't have that.

  • ||

    Maybe the rail systems in Philly work better than in LA because they were designed by for-profit companies to serve customer's needs, rather than by politians trying to serve contractor's needs?

  • ||

    Building a rail line does not reduce overall mass transit ridership. That doesn't make sense. The error you have made is assuming that ticket sales equate to ridership. They don't, not even close. Based on my observations while riding, I estimate that more than 1/2 of rail riders do not pay. And they won't pay until locking gates are put into place like every other transit system on the planet. L.A.'s honor system for paying to ride rail makes any conclusions you draw based on ticket sales equating to usage invalid.

  • ||

    It makes perfect sense. All the bus lines you had to kill to afford the rail line carried more riders than the rail line did.

    As for counting ridership, if you don't pay you don't matter. I'd be pissed if a transit system counted non-paying riders in their measures of success.

  • ChrisO||

    These things are 100% about making money rain from the sky for well-connected contractors and construction unions. No need to analyze it much further than that.

  • Rrabbit||

    Rail works fine in many European cities. Generally, if trains are clean, safe, on time, and get people to where they want to go efficiently, people will use them.

    The problem in LA county is not rail. The problem is disastrous levels of incompetency, and probably corruption as well.
    The bus system in LA is broken, too. When I was there for two weeks in 1998, I tried to use the bus, but it was impossible to find out the schedule ...

  • ||

    I can't, for the life of me, understand this fascination with SUBWAYS!

    Dig down several stories, then TUNNEL - at a cost of $100,000 per FOOT of tunnel (and they want 9.5 MILES, or 78,375 FEET of tunnel).

    WHAT is wrong with Monorails (going down the middle of EXISTING STREETS?

    You dig a few holes on either side of the street (like you would for a telephone pole) - run an I-Beam between the two poles, and run the Monorail track down the streets. Yeah, every few blocks you have to put an elevator/escalator/stairs to an elevated platform, but guess what? EXISTING Police can SEE what's going on on the platform (you don't need the added cost of "Transit Police").

    But then, this ISN'T about the Environment or even "improving public transportation" - it's about CONTROL!

    WE (the Government) get to tell YOU (the "unwashed masses") WHERE the public transporation will go from/to, WHEN it's going to go there, WHERE it's going to stop - and YOU (the TaxPayers) get to PAY FOR the CONSTRUCTION!

    AND, once it's built - WE get to CHARGE YOU when you USE it!

    What a racket!

  • ||

    First of all, Metro doesn't cover all of LA county. Some of the areas of LA county which have grown the most are covered by other transit operators. And, since 1985 Metro has given away many of its routes to be operated by others. Second, the accuracy of ridership calculations has significantly increased since 1985, going from every trip being surveyed once a year to Automated Passenger Counter devices measuring every trip. I doubt the accuracy of old ridership numbers compared with the new. Finally, every single corridor served by rail carries about 10 times more passengers than it used to carry by bus. Actually, another thing: it is misleading to claim that LA rail is inefficient by comparing ridership amounts, because the amount of rail in LA is very small compared to the route mileage of buses. When you compare ridership per mile of rail versus ridership per mile of bus rail comes out ahead.

    I don't mind these anti-rapid transit diatribes but when the writer knows little about public transit and does not do much research the persuasiveness of the article is very low.

  • ||

    Can any Los Angeles based Reason readers tell me what privately funded and operated autoroads they use their cars on? Heck, if that's not fair, tell me what privately funded and operated autoroads your grandparents drove on?

    I seem to remember Los Angeles once having over 1,000 miles of urban rail, all of it privately funded, constructed and operated. Strangely, but the 1960's, it was all gone, apparently the "love" of the private automobile brought on the death of urban rail.

    Yet it's odd how so-called libertarians who espouse the freedom of the private auto and the despotism of mass transit prop up a system that is funded publicly and constructed politically. Seems autoroad funding is the great loophole in libertarian philosophy. I wonder why, people love autoroad so much and they are so lucrative and efficient, why we don't see the Ford Freeway, the Toyota Highway and the BMW turnpike? Henry Ford himself felt it was the government's responsibility to build and maintain the specialized roads that made his product attractive and usable.

    What's also funny is what a poor investment roads have been – L.A.'s grade separated freeway were built 60 years ago – and the whole point of grade separation is speed – and yet anyone who's driven on L.A. freeways in the last 20 years know that speed is a rarity. Yet, a visit to the London Underground – a transportation system that predates the freeways but almost 100 years – one find it's still managing to move the people of London efficiently despite the population of the city growing for almost 3 million to almost 8 million in the course of those years.

    Strange.

  • ||

    This is the DUMBEST article I've ever read (and many of the anti-rail comments are quite senseless, as well). It seems to me, the author was high on drugs, or medication, or something... What person in his sane state of mind would claim "almost certainly decrease the number of people using mass transit"?! This is laughable. Because transit ridership increases substantially once a rail line is built, providing a fast, reliable alternative. You don't have to be a Transportation expert to realize that traveling by buses is long, frustrating, unreliable, and decreases ridership. While the Rail transit attracts riders (and not just white people, like some knucklehead commenters claim). Whoever says "Rail is for whites" is a racist, and a complete dummy. No more no less. Have you traveled by Rail lines in Los Angeles county? I don't know what lines you've traveled, but from what I've seen - a vast majority of rail travelers (on all rail lines) are non-whites, non-rich, which contradicts this lame theory that "rail is for whites, buses are for poor". Unfortunately, the racists Bus Riders' Union have spread their propaganda too far, but at the same time the smart people realize about the wrongful agenda of BRU, and the way they can falsify facts.
    The bottom line: shame on this article's writer! Shame on the dummy commenters who know nothing about transit but who buy into this anti-rail propaganda. Get a life, you guys!

  • colin||

    "Nobody who claims to be a progressive can honestly support rail construction. But where rail is concerned, honesty always takes a back seat to delusional self-satisfaction. "

    Actually progressivism is entirely devoted to delusional self-satisfaction, so I don't think they have any conflicts of interest in supporting it.

  • دردشة||

    thanks

GET REASON MAGAZINE

Get Reason's print or digital edition before it’s posted online

  • Progressive Puritans: From e-cigs to sex classifieds, the once transgressive left wants to criminalize fun.
  • Port Authoritarians: Chris Christie’s Bridgegate scandal
  • The Menace of Secret Government: Obama’s proposed intelligence reforms don’t safeguard civil liberties

SUBSCRIBE

advertisement