L.A. Mass Transit Chief Makes Airtight Case Against Rail

The Los Angeles Metropolitan Transportation Authority is eliminating 12 percent of its bus service. The service reduction, which the L.A. Times describes as “part of the largest overhaul of the system in more than a decade,” will cut nine lines. This comes on top of a 4 percent bus service reduction MTA ordered six months ago – a move that prompted a federal discrimination complaint from the far-left Bus Riders Union. MTA claims it can no longer afford to support lines with mediocre ridership:

Metro Chief Executive Art Leahy said there were “astonishingly low” ridership levels on buses headed into downtown each morning and that the system operated at 42% capacity.

Leahy here reveals the inherent advantage of bus lines over rail lines – you can easily add to and subtract from bus service as the city changes and the needs of your customers evolve. (MTA says it will “enhance” service on some heavier-demand lines.)

More importantly, by coming clean about the statistics in this way, Leahy makes the clear case that MTA should reduce its rail service by about 48 percent. While buses consume only 35 percent of MTA’s operating budget, they move 80 percent of its passengers. That’s a bargain compared to the Authority’s capital-hungry, debt-fueled trains, which continue to underperform the most modest expectations and have arguably depressed overall ridership on L.A.’s mass transit system. 

In previous reporting I said L.A. buses carry three times as many riders as L.A. trains. According to current statistics, that’s closer to four times as many: 1,133,636 daily boardings for buses, against 298,932 for trains. These ratios are essentially unchanged [pdf] over the previous two years. You could eliminate nearly all the city’s rail service and have no more impact on customers  than MTA will see with its current cuts.

The Bus Riders Union is right: If rich people took the bus MTA wouldn’t dare make these cuts. Then again, rich people don’t take the train either; they just like knowing it's there.

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  • Matt Perry's 2nd Chin||

    The only answer is to raise downtown parking rates.

  • AlmightyJB||

  • ||

    Anarchist Take to the Streets to Protest Government Cuts: Cognitive Dissonance Ensues

  • Tim Cavanaugh||

    Should they ever. We were downtown covering a union parade of 8,000 or 9,000 people yesterday, timed just a few hours before a Kings game, and still every open-air parking lot was either empty or half-full.

    And they were all still charging twenty bucks to park. Thanks a lot for downward-sticky prices, John Maynard Fucking Keynes!

  • Rather||

    How do they expect the working poor to travel?

  • Matt Perry's 2nd Chin||

    you shut your whore mouth when men are talking

  • Rather||

    Did I tell you to stop sucking my clit?

  • This thread is officially||

    derailed.

  • Bucky||

    this^^^

  • Rectal||

    How will they force you guys to pay for things I want?

  • prolefeed||

    How do they expect the working poor to travel?

    Private buses and trains, run for profit.

  • Hugh Akston||

    The Bus Riders Union is right: If rich people took the bus MTA wouldn’t dare make these cuts. Then again, rich people don’t take the train either; they just like knowing it's there.

    So they aren't cutting the bus line from Brentwood to downtown, right?

  • db||

    You know who else had a pad in Brentwood?

  • DNS||

    who else had a pad in Brentwood?

    Andrew Breitbart?

  • db||

    I installed two-way mirrors there.

  • ||

    He would come to the door in a dress.

    ----------

    Never gets old.

  • Matt Perry's 2nd Chin||

  • Dello||

    The ONLY news source worth paying attention to.

  • Colonel_Angus||

    Drink?

  • Almanian||

    Excellent reporting of the relevant facts, Timmeh. Unfortunately, our betters aren't swayed by such things.

    Emote and have good intentions! And watch Cali continue to slip into the sea...

  • Slap the Enlightened!||

    And watch Cali continue to slip into the sea...

    If only. Maybe a few tons of dynamite in the St. Andreas fault would help out?

  • Kolohe||

    I think it's 500 kT, with a similar amount for Hackensack, NJ

  • ||

    I never got that scene. Why was Kal-El chasing the missle eastward (toward Hackensack) when he would have been coming from the east? He should have intercepted it instead of chased it, leaving him more time to get to the one near the future Otisburg. Also, if he could go so fast he reversed the earth's rotation, why did he have to chase the missle so long before catching up with it? He was doing an orbit every second or so in space, yet can't fly much faster than Mach 3 at ground level? Bullshit!

  • ||

    Don't be an idiot. Superman was only able to reverse the direction of the Earth and turn back time because he was so upset that Lois died...ah, fuck it. Why even try to make sense of it? None of it makes any sense. It's still a good movie, though.

    Now, the fourth one...

  • ||

    Sadly, splitting California via the San Andreas Fault won't get rid of Sacramento and the parasite class of politicians that there toil away daily at their Great Project of destroying this State. Unless, of course, the sea should rush into the Central valley and drown our misbegotten capital and the eminently exterminable pests there. One can only hope.

  • spirit to Libert E||

    Why hope when you can pray!

    http://libertarianjesus.com

  • Tom||

    And apparently it's the opposite in Phoenix (but it's hot there, I guess, so trains run cooler?) http://www.treehugger.com/file.....-video.php

  • ||

    We'll see how those numbers look after Phoenix stops paying for city workers to ride for free.

  • johnl||

    Boarding counts don't show passenger miles. I board the train and the bus 2 times a day, but ride the bus for a total of 15 miles and the train for a total of 100. But as always Tim Cavanaugh is right busses are much more flexible and robust. In 15 years I can remember *one* time when an extra train route was run (to help with traffic caused by 5 closure). But bus rescues of passengers from stranded trains are organized once every few months.

    Not to take away from the fact that the only honorable form of public transportation is unlicensed jitneys driven by uninsured underage illegal immigrants.

  • Red Rocks Rockin||

    With any luck, the rickshaw will find a hold amongst the fashionable set of Greater Los Angeles and San Francisco.

  • Spiny Norman||

    Pulled by the homeless.

  • Dello||

    We have 100% employment!

  • Red Rocks Rockin||

    Hispanic immigrants--pulling the rickshaws Americans won't.

  • Bangladeshi Illegal||

    Vee pull the rickshaws that the hispanics won't.

  • That's how we'll know||

    the Hispanics are fully mainstreamed.

  • Colonel_Angus||

    A commute over 50 miles. This is what government subsidized infrastructure has made "economical". Thank you, government.

  • ||

    "If rich people took the bus MTA wouldn’t dare make these cuts. Then again, rich people don’t take the train either; they just like knowing it's there."

    I think a lot of rich people would use the rail--if the stations were located where the rich people live or where they want to go.

    If I have to drive all the way down Sepulveda to Rosecrans just to get to a station? I might as well drive the rest of the way.

    And why oh why doesn't the rail system run to the airport? What simpleton designed a city rail system that leaves you a mile or so short of the airport?

    It's a city owned airport!

  • ||

    And why oh why doesn't the rail system run to the airport? What simpleton designed a city rail system that leaves you a mile or so short of the airport?

    I had to look this up; not that I didn't believe you, but I had to see it.

    Here is the google map. Yeah, zoom in real close and notice that the mile walk from the station to the airport appears to be on a highway.

  • sevo||

    "What simpleton designed a city rail system that leaves you a mile or so short of the airport?"

    Dunno his name, but I'm sure he'll have the LA/SF HSR end in Ventura and, oh, Union City.

  • 4chan||

    Its a case of NIMBYISM where stuff like this or a 'rail to the sea' actually stops a couple of miles away from the beaches.

  • Zeb||

    I think taxi/livery drivers had something to do with it. A train station at the airport would really cut into their racket.

  • Red Rocks Rockin||

    Nah, it's like this all over. Denver's light rail lines, for example, are a monument to the inefficiency of modern managerialist planning. It's basically designed as glorified urban tourism service, not an efficient people-mover.

    The only way light rail would be fully justified in a modern urban setting, especially out West, is if the entire street network was torn up and replaced by track. At least then they'd stop where people needed to go in their day-to-day lives, even when the inevitable "schedule tyranny" occurred and you couldn't go when you wanted to go.

  • Sean W. Malone||

    So is Portland's light rail... although it does actually go to the airport.

  • Red Rocks Rockin||

    Denver's trying to get something set up for a choo-choo to go to DIA as part of their "let's bring light rail to all the suburbs!" FastTrax plan. It's being executed with all the (lack of) foresight and efficiency you'd expect.

  • Ted S.||

    Install horizontal paternosters on all the streets. :-)

  • R||

    If I recall (but correct me if I'm wrong) the ST. Louis monorail system does connect to the airport.

  • ||

    Yeah, and the STL system charges extra for farecards bought at the airport compared to anywhere else, which is cute but understandable.

    Seattle's new one also goes to the airport.

    Edinburgh, Scotland's new tram (light rail) system, if it ever finishes (horribly late and overbudget) also stops a mile or so from the airport, followed by a shuttle bus ride.

  • skr||

    This^^^^^

  • ||

    I think you're probably right about that.

    You can still wait 45 minutes to take a bus from where they drop you near the airport too--and it wouldn't surprise me if they were trying to keep the bus drivers occupied as well.

  • prolefeed||

    And why oh why doesn't the rail system run to the airport? What simpleton designed a city rail system that leaves you a mile or so short of the airport?

    The same sort of elected simpletons who, for political reasons, were planning on leaving the airport out of the Oahu rail. And are planning on having the first leg start in an empty rural field and run to a low-density residential neighborhood.

  • ||

    And why oh why doesn't the rail system run to the airport? What simpleton designed a city rail system that leaves you a mile or so short of the airport?

    Generally a combination of it being more expensive to acquire land and build in the dense places where it should go, combined with planners thinking that "if we build it out in this useless area, people will insist on finishing it because it'll be worth it then." I.e., not understanding sunk costs, nor understanding the enormous PR hit that building an expensive white elephant does to transit.

    So many of these CA HSR advocates even admit that "ok, sure, the initial segment will be useless, but you have to start somewhere, and this useless section will motivate people to build it somewhere useful."

  • ps||

    In my town, the proposed light rail also stops a mile short of the airport. I was told that if it were connected to the airport, rail opponents could say that it was being built for the tourists, which may be even worse than saying it's for the rich people, since at least the local rich people pay their share of property taxes.

  • Rrabbit||

    What simpleton designed a city rail system that leaves you a mile or so short of the airport?

    Public transport in LA is completely broken. Calling the people who designed that absurdity "simpletons" is an insult to actual simpletons.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    After watching the movie Unstoppable, I no longer trust train travel. On the other hand, the movie Speed is still very fresh in my mind, which makes me wary of buses. So, in conclusion, I say they hand out Segways. Maximum flexibility and there have been no movies about them.

  • Rock Action ||

    No movies, only real-life tragedies. Did I first read about this here?

    http://www.thedailybeast.com/c.....gway/obit/

  • Brian Combs||

    That was an off-road Segway. If people stayed in the cities where they belonged, all would be utopia.

  • johnl||

    Ken you can fly out of Bob Hope. It's walking distance from a Metrolink stop.

  • ||

    I gotta go from the South Bay to Burbank if I want to ride the Metro to an airport?

    LAX is on my side of town!

    Please understand my point. If they're gonna make a rail system that people will use, they need to make the rail system go where people want to go.

    People want to take the rail to LAX.

    They're both owned by the city! Why can't the city make the city owned rail go to the city owned airport? Why wasn't that in the original plan?

    Shouldn't LAX have been the first place they put a rail station?

    It is such a pain in the ass to get to the rail to use it! If I want to get to a rail station from the South Bay? I have to take two buses just to get to the station, and then go all the way to Union Station to catch a train south to Solana Beach.

    It takes me twice as long to get from the South Bay to Union Station as it does to get from Union Station to Solana Beach! When traffic is good? I could drive to Solana Beach from the South Bay in less time than it takes me to get from the South Bay to Union station on "rapid" transit.

  • Neu Mejican||

    Shouldn't LAX have been the first place they put a rail station?

    In Seattle, a similar snafu was due to lobbying by the Taxi industry. This was quickly remedied here, but I imagine something similar happened in LA.

  • SoCal observer||

    I love watching the passing Long Beach Blue Line train with near-empty cars.

  • ||

    And then see the Blue Line becoming standing room only north of Long Beach into Los Angeles. The Blue Line is the 2nd busiest light rail line in the United States, so your perception of "emtpy" is absolutely false. I ride the Blue Line regularly in peak and off-peak hours.

  • Esteban||

    Big Taxi strikes again!

  • ||

    In Seattle, a similar snafu was due to lobbying by the Taxi industry.

    They opened the airport station about six months after the rest of the line; doing so had been in their planning from the very start, for years. It was mostly that they thought it was more complicated to build to the airport, so they left that station for last-- and they wanted to concentrate on the retrofit of the Downtown Seattle Transit Tunnel so that they could reopen it.

    They is no way that they could have "quickly remedied" not having an airport station. Transit planning is never quick. Having the airport station open six months later was part of the plan all along, and part of the insistence of the FRA.

  • Neu Mejican||

    That is not accurate JT. The airport extension was added in in 2004. It was part of the original proposal, was taken out and then added back in, iirc.

    http://community.seattletimes......ortrail22m

  • ||

    There is no "taxi industry" in LA. This is the city where taxis can't cruise and you can't hail one on the street, remember? No, it's just the city/county being stupid as usual.

  • Neu Mejican||

    The industry that does exist in LA exists primarily to get people to and from the airports...no? This is the way it is in Seattle as well, for the most part. The train was a major threat to their business and that of the airport shuttle services.

  • skr||

    I agree, it's a complete PITA.

  • Hugh Akston||

    Really? I didn't think there were any rail stops in the Valley.

  • chaussures air max||

    see

  • chaussures puma||

    i see

  • DJF||

    Norfolk Virginia is just completing a light rail line which is $100 mil over budget, its only seven miles long and goes from downtown and ends in a not very high density residential nationhood and due to budget shortfall they are cutting a bunch of bus lines to make up for the overspending on the light rail line.

  • Scruffy Nerf Herder||

    Norfolk is setting new standards for corruption with the light rail line and other redevelopment projects.

  • Brett L||

    $100M overbudget for seven miles? Jesus. Tell me the track is made from baby seal bones and the fines were $105M.

  • db||

    My god, what was the original budget projection for seven miles? $100MM over budget should get entire departments fired.

  • DJF||

    Originally it was suppose to be 288 mil.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tide_Light_Rail

  • Highway||

    Wow, so a cost of 400 million to go 7 miles for all of 11,000 daily riders, if their highest projections are correct (which they never are).

    Lyle Lanley would be proud.

  • ||

    Y'all do realize this is peanuts to what Norfolk and other US cities spend on highway programs. In CA, highway takes up 90% of transportation funds, whereas transit (including both bus and rail programs) is only 10%. So why don't you go after the real spending problems - highways/roads?

  • ||

    far-left Bus Riders Union.

    But you repeat yourself.

  • Neu Mejican||

    As johnl pointed out above, trains and buses serve different purposes in a mass transit system. As do taxis and rickshaws. Discussions of mass transit need to keep the systemic picture in mind. For instance, train ridership goes up when bus routes are available to and from train stations and places where riders live and want to go. Yadda yadda.

  • sevo||

    Neu Mejican|3.26.11 @ 9:38AM|#
    "As johnl pointed out above, trains and buses serve different purposes in a mass transit system. As do taxis and rickshaws. Discussions of mass transit need to keep the systemic picture in mind."

    And the absolute best way to discover this is to let folks risk their own money offering routes and vehicles. Pretty soon, it'll be obvious, and we can dump every 'transit agency' in the river where they belong.

  • Invisible Finger||

    I would prefer my bus go to a different rain station so could get on another bus and avoid the train altogether. (One xfer instead of two.)

    NOTHING gos exactly where you want it to go except a car or your feet.

  • Captain Awesome||

    Don't forget your bike. If no one is paying attention you could actually ride it into the store!

    (unicycles are also pretty sweet)

  • skr||

    But you aren't allowed to take a bike on the train during rush hours.

  • Captain Awesome||

    No kidding. That one really limits the usefulness of the trains for me. Of course, each bus can only hold 2 bikes on that rack. And it's not like I haven't seen someone at a stop walk off with someone else's at a stop.

  • Neu Mejican||

    But you aren't allowed to take a bike on the train during rush hours.
    reply to this

    I have never ridden a train where that was true...would be a bad policy in all cases.

  • Captain Awesome||

    Everything about BART is bad policy.

  • sevo||

    "Everything about BART is bad policy."

    Yep. They have this horrible problem of too many riders!
    Imagine *any* business griping about too many customers.

  • johnl||

    The Amtrak Surfliner has racks for 3 bikes on 4 cars but the Metrolink has room for 2 bikes on 2 or 3 cars. So it happens a lot that the conductor is kicking bikes off. If you are a regular and the conductor trusts you to watch your bike he might let you get away with fastening a 3rd bike in.

    The policy is rational. Even without an accident, which are not unheard of, the Metrolink jumps and jerks too much to have loose bikes.

  • Colonel_Angus||

    I will confirm that it is a policy in other cities as well. They don't charge extra for the bikes, and bikes take up space. Often the wheelchair space with fold up seats.

  • Colonel_Angus||

    Lugging a bike on to a bus or train also increases boarding times and fucks up the schedule.

  • Neu Mejican||

    fucks up the schedule.

    That's easy enough to factor into the schedule. Bikes should go on last and come off last on a train and should be out of the way.

    The policy is rational. Even without an accident, which are not unheard of, the Metrolink jumps and jerks too much to have loose bikes.

    But why the limit during rush hour? That doesn't say anything about loose bikes. Seems every effort should be made to accommodate riders needs. If more bike space is needed, make more bike space. One of the things about trains is that you can add cars to increase capacity...you could even have bike commuter cars that are configured differently.

  • GSL||

    True in Boston also.

  • Robert||

    Actually just your feet. Cars only go to where GOVERNMENT BUREAUCRATS say they are allowed to go, through socialist road building, street signing, and map questing programmed.

  • johnl||

    But there are also long distance busses that serve the same routes as the train. For the 50 mile leg of my ride home, as a backup to the train, I can take Tres Estrellas del Norte or Intercalifornias. And Tres Estrellas, unlike Amtrak, has Wifi. They manage to run a business competing against the subsidized Amtrak and Metrolink.

  • ||

    For instance, train ridership goes up when bus routes are available to and from train stations and places where riders live and want to go. Yadda yadda.

    But rerouting bus routes to go to and from train stations can cause bus ridership to massively fall. See what happened in Santiago, Chile.

    So, yes, if you screw over the buses, you can make the train numbers look better.

  • Neu Mejican||

    Who said re-routing. I was thinking...adding. And, of course, thinking about where you put the train stations in the first place. Again, systemic thinking is important.

  • Colin||

    Leahy makes the clear case that MTA should reduce its rail service by about 48 percent.

    And yet they're building two new train lines.

    Don't look for intelligence from the MTA. They can't even figure out how to connect the schedules of the Red and Blue lines at night.

  • ||

    Rail ridership is 300,000 per day on 79 miles of rail compared to 1.3 million on 2,543 miles buses cover. Now, what's a more efficient mode of transit?

  • ||

    "Neu Mejican|3.26.11 @ 9:38AM|#
    As johnl pointed out above, trains and buses serve different purposes in a mass transit system."

    They sure do. The trains are to give the city planners prestige and to anchor their "model city" pipe dreams. The busses are to provide the illusion that the entire mess might one day do something financially OTHER than hemorrhage money

  • Zeb||

    Trains are great in cities where they were built 100 years ago. Adding trains to a city that grew up around a car based transport system is probably not going to work out so well.

  • ||

    Adding trains to a city that grew up around a car based transport system is probably not going to work out so well.

    Yeah, but 100years from now it'll all work out.

  • Colonel_Angus||

    No. Settlement and infrastructure are actually very slow to update once it has been established in an area around a particular mix of transportation options.

  • Captain Awesome||

    For all the "trains are part of a system" people:

    Why can't the function of the train be served by replacing that rail with a set of dedicated bus lanes?

  • sevo||

    "Why can't the function of the train be served by replacing that rail with a set of dedicated bus lanes?"

    Simple.
    The function of the train is to vacuum gas-tax dollars out of DC, and DC doesn't use gas-tax dollars for roads.

  • Neu Mejican||

    Why can't the function of the train be served by replacing that rail with a set of dedicated bus lanes?

    It can be. In some places that makes more sense than a train. In some places a train makes more sense.

    Curitiba Brazil has the most used public transportation system in the western hemisphere and it is all bus-based. But systemic thinking is the key to whether they system will work. And there is no reason that a publicly funded system can't interface with private actors in the market. NYC is a good example of that.

  • Esteban||

    Yeah the NYC MTA is model of efficiency and running surpluses... in bizarro world. And the MTA now owns and operates all the bus lines in NYC. There's the dollar vans, but the politicians don't like those much because they're harder to regulate.

  • Neu Mejican||

    I was thinking it is a good example of a system that gets a lot of people where they are going. Private actors being taxis.

  • ||

    You mean the heavily regulated, supply controlled taxis? A million for a medallion.

  • 4chan||

    I never understood regulating taxi services, outside of maybe keeping known violent felons outside of the profession.

  • sevo||

    "And there is no reason that a publicly funded system can't interface with private actors in the market."

    You've yet to show any reason for publicly funded systems to begin with. The fact that they may actually work if supplemented by private systems is more an apology than a reason for them.

  • ||

    But systemic thinking is the key to whether they system will work.

    Yes. Too much "systemic thinking" guarantees failure. Insisting that the buses in Santiago, Chile interface with the trains made the buses lose ridership and tons of money, screwing over the poor in exchange for helping a few middle class.

    The invocation of "keeping the systemic picture in mind" is the sign of a central planner, and an idiot.

  • Neu Mejican||

    Both top down and bottom up organization is part of systemic thinking. Only an idiot would confuse systemic thinking with "central planning."

  • Rrabbit||

    Why can't the function of the train be served by replacing that rail with a set of dedicated bus lanes?

    Bus lanes are quite a bit wider, that makes a big difference in many European cities where roads are narrower than in the US. Then, bus lanes are problematic when there are many bicycles on the road.

  • ||

    Ken Shultz mentions above how one cannot get to LAX using public transportation without a mile long walk, and I linked a map to the aforementioned walk, one question:

    Has anybody made this walk, and is it truly just a mile long stretch of highway(as shown on the satellite image)with no sidewalks?

    Just wondering.

  • sevo||

    I'm fairly familiar with the area, but I can't find the train station on the map, so I can't answer.

  • ||

    I can't put boots on the ground, but I see sidewalks along Century Blvd in the satellite photo. Assuming the building marked "Subway" (east of the airport, on Century, but the other side of the street) is the train station in question, you could walk west down Century, hang a left on Sepulveda, then a right onto the sidewalk through that unlabeled property, and then you're at the airport.

  • ||

    ---"Just wondering."---

    The closest rail stop I am aware of is the Green Line at Aviation/LAX. A mile, if not more to the Airport. Mostly industrial/commercial development and major roads or freeways. Not the best walk even in the middle of the day. This really pisses me off as I live at the East end of the Green Line route and would certainly use it to the airport, if it went there.

    My observations from travelling around is that rail works in vertical cities (New York, Chicago, London, Tokyo etc), but not so well in horizontal cities such as L.A.

  • Captain Awesome||

    Who want's to walk a mile with their luggage?

  • Sean W. Malone||

    I was in and out of LAX every other week for a year, and I don't know that I have a grasp of where the nearest metro stop even is.

    However... I will say that the PCH (which is Hwy 1/Sepulveda Blvd. around LAX) isn't terrible to walk exactly. There's a lengthy stretch on the west side of the street that is just grassland. That street does have sidewalks. But, from there, it's a pretty long roadway with no sidewalks to walk actually into the LAX area.

    One way or another, it'd be incredibly stupid to walk. Especially when you can get a $12-20 shared ride van from your door to the airport.

  • GSL||

    This. When I lived in Pasadena the Gold line stopped outside my apartment, so I'd usually take it downtown and get the Flyaway bus. This took about as much time and was far less expensive than driving to LAX and parking overnight. If you can't take the Flyaway, Super Shuttle is your best bet.

  • johnl||

    There is a bus line from LAX. It's one transfer to Union Station. At least that's how it was 20 years ago the last time I tried.

  • ||

    Not remotely close. 20 years ago? 20 years ago you could drive to the airport from Pasadena in about 20 minutes, too.

  • johnl||

    It's still 1 transfer. You take the 117 from LAX to the 110 and then the 745 to Union Station. Or you take the 232 to the green line.

  • ||

    You all are confusing stories. GSL is talking about the LAX Flyaway TODAY that offers 24 hours service from Union Station to LAX (every half hour 24 hours a day) for $7 one-way. JohnL is talking about a service 20 years ago. Stay on the right topic.

  • GSL||

    Also, depending on when your return flight got in, it's not necessarily an area you'd enjoy walking through or waiting for a train in at night.

  • ||

    Dude does make a LOT of sense when you think about it.

    www.privacy-online.it.tc

  • Gregory Smith||

    In Latin America any schmuck can buy/lease a bus and start his own transportation company. This is what we need, private sector solutions instead of public transport bullshit.

    When the rich attack the richer: Neighbors of Saudi Prince don't want him building 85,000 sq. ft. home.
    http://libertarians4freedom.bl.....rs-of.html

  • ||

    The problems with buses are at least threefold: 1) They stop all the time, lowering average transit speed to a crawl; 2) They need drivers, which drive up payroll and benefits cost (or result in reduction in routes to minimize personnel expense); 3) They are at the mercy of traffic, just like your own car or any other person or vehicle that travels the street.

    Now, you could give buses their own lanes, and establish more express buses that don't have to make every little stop. The first would either be costly or -- if you took lanes from other traffic -- contribute to traffic congestion. The second is doable, if you pick the express routes with care to ensure that those buses travel full. But most buses still have to be "locals" and thus, inherently slow. Plus, you can't get around the personnel expense.

    An acceptable solution for the problem would involve something that neither impeded street traffic nor was impeded by it. It would be automated, minimizing system payroll and benefits expense. And it would take you, nonstop, from the point you got onto the vehicle to your point of destination. It should also be relatively cheap to establish and operate. Both Light Rail and Heavy Rail also utterly fail to meet those requirements.

  • Gregory Smith||

    Those are good ideas, and I do like express buses. Of course, to me the solution has to be private transportation where you can choose a class (one size does not fit all), perks like drinks on board, food, maybe a TV you control), and comfortable bus stations.

    After all, I won't take mass transit if my car is more comfortable. Maybe in Chicago and New York I don't have a choice, but in Chattanooga I do, and I choose the convenience of my car over the waiting in the rain for CARTA.

  • ||

    So, it sounds to me as if you are saying that the CARTA isn't all that MAGNA.

    Seriously, how about a small, private vehicle, which has room for you and optionally two or three friends, associates or family members traveling with you (plus their light luggage and/or a bicycle or wheelchair), and onto which you can carry your own food or drink? There would be little or no waiting -- in the rain or otherwise -- the vehicle would more often be waiting for YOU.

    There would be no bus or train "stations," except perhaps at certain "metro transit centers," where the system intersected with bus, train, or light-rail routes in the area. Mostly, you'd access the system at facilities that resembled somewhat over-sized covered bus stops, spaced about a half-mile apart. You'd get on at the stop closest to where you were, and get off at the one closest to your destination -- the walk would be no more than 1/4 mile -- just down the block -- in either case. The entire non-stop trip would occur on a lightweight, elevated guideway, ensuring that you would never block or be blocked by street traffic, and that you would have a great view of the surroundings as you traveled. For nearly all points of origination and destination (within, say, a five-mile square area), your total time in transit would be ten minutes or less, which you could spend chatting with those in the vehicle with you; talking on the phone; finishing a word processing document or catching up with friends on a social networking website, using with your tablet or laptop PC; watching TV (perhaps with an onboard screen, or via your own cellular or WiFi device); eating; napping; or finishing that espresso, beer, or frozen daiquiri that you had with you when you boarded the vehicle. This is because there would be no driver: the vehicle would be completely automated.

    Would you buy that for a fare of just a couple of bucks per ride?

    A system that provides all of the above advantages is running now at Heathrow Airport, and is being actively considered in various comminities around the world: http://www.ultraprt.com/

    The concept -- of which the above system represents only one vendor's design approach -- is more fully explored here: http://kinetic.seattle.wa.us/prt.html

    Of all the transit approaches now being used, or having been proposed in the last twenty years or so, this is the only one that would have a chance of luring me from MY car on a regular basis. I'd definitely prefer that flying car that futurists were falsely promising me for most of my life, but unlike the flying car, this thing is working and available now.

  • ||

    "No public financing" is what I would prefer also, which is why I have warmed so much to the Personal Rapid Transit approach. But anyone trying to create a transportation system by private means faces a daunting phalanx of government agencies, armed with vast powers of obstruction and taxation, followed by another phalanx of litigators, all eager to tap deep pockets to satisfy specious liability claims. This kind of extreme business-unfriendliness (coupled with the by-now "common knowledge" that public-transportation-as-we-know-it can and only should be done by -- duh! -- government) can sour even the most bullish private-sector investor on innovative projects, no matter how promising they might be. For such reasons, I expect that PRT will first be brought to municipalities by government -- either directly or via a so-called "public-private partnership." The silver lining, of course, will be that PRT will result in the least number of our tax dollars being flushed down the toilet for transit purposes -- probably returning a surplus. It is likely, however, that PRT will then be used as a "cash-cow" to subsidize OTHER government projects, much as the otherwise profitable toll-bridges in the SF Bay area and elsewhere are used to subsidize a vast array of projects besides bridge maintenance and improvement.

    We'll see what happens. But at least there is the POSSIBILITY that private actors could establish and run PRT at break-even or a surplus, so perhaps my pessimistic expectations will not come to pass, while your and my preferred result will. Time will tell.

  • johnl||

    In OC we have "Right lane must turn right, busses exempt". Even in rush hour, busses are moving through Santa Ana in the right turn lane.

  • Libertarian||

    Tell me great oracle reason, what do I believe? Is it whatever burns the most oil, as usual?

  • ||

    Last time I heard? Cavanaugh uses mass transit.

    I remember him writing about it extensively when he was at the LA Times.

    Trying to paint libertarians as monolithic will make you look foolish.

    Every. Time.

  • 4chan||

    The ironic thing is that L.A. was built based on mass transit with the Red and Yellow Car systems that traveled throughout L.A., Orange, riverside, and San Bernadino County.

  • Red Rocks Rockin||

    This goes back to what I said upthread regarding current light-rail implementation--in order to make the system justifiable, they'd have to rip up all the roads and put down rails in their place. It's the only way people wouldn't feel completely inconvenienced when trying to use the system, even when they inevitably fell victim to the tyranny of scheduling; at least they'd be dropped off where they wanted to go, or at least within walking distance. This is especially true out west, where everything is so spread out except for the deepest urban cores. Even during rush hour, it's often faster to drive than to take the train, or train/bus combinations, because of scheduling availability. What's the point in hopping buses and lines for 1.5 hours when I can be there in 45 minutes to an hour, unless gas was so prohibitively expensive that it the perceptionally overrode the inconvenience?

    Right now, the lines in most cities are primarily geared towards encouraging SWPL urban tourism, not actual mass transit. Take a look at Denver's line maps, for instance, and you'll see what I mean--it's all about getting people from the suburbs to go downtown to certain local landmarks and shopping districts.

  • ||

    The ironic thing is that L.A. was built based on mass transit with the Red and Yellow Car systems that traveled throughout L.A., Orange, riverside, and San Bernadino County.

    You forgot Toontown. And we can thank Judge Doom and his own brand of eminent domain (via the dip) for killing the red line.

  • ||

    The train doesn't go anywhere anyone wants to go. You can't go to BH, LAX, Santa Monica from Pasadena. You can't go to the Hollywood Bowl, the Getty, LACMA--it's insane. You can go to Union Station (big deal) and a weird corner on Wilshire or Hollywood Blvd, but no place useful.

  • johnl||

    Well there is stuff downtown and along the gold line. It depends how far you are traveling from. If you are in Pasadena, sure, drive. If you are in San Diego, that's just impractical.

  • johnl||

    Well there is stuff downtown and along the gold line. It depends how far you are traveling from. If you are in Pasadena, sure, drive. If you are in San Diego, that's just impractical.

  • ||

    Apparently Hollywood/Highland (Chinese theater, Hollywood sign, Kodak theater) is not a destination? The Red Line clearly serves downtown LA, Koreatown, Westlake, Hollywood, and Universal Studious well. So don't say it goes "nowhere". There's still tons of places we have to go, but LA is moving forward! It took us 20 years to build 79 miles of rail. Any other city accomplish that feat in last 20 years?

  • ||

    I just got back from a trip to Saigon and Hong Kong. Saigon moves on an endless swarm of motorbikes (median age of the population is low to mid twenties). No traffic regulation at the majority of intersections and rotaries, just anarchistic spontaneously ordered flows. It works surprisingly effectively, with traffic rarely halting completely and buses, taxis, and cars seeming almost to have their path lubricated by the motorbike "fluid." Also, you get to see women in dresses and high heels perched side-saddled on the backs of motorbikes, lounging with legs crossed as if on a divan in their living room.

    HK is a vertical city with a super subway system that will take you almost anywhere you want to go quickly. Just don't try to carry anything big and be prepared for some major random intimacy--it's crowded.

    LA--cars and feet dominate the other transit
    options most of the time. The Santa Monica Blue Buses aren't bad for Westside travel. Fixed rail has nothing to do with demand--it is entirely a creature of the suppliers and the subsidizers, constrained by the NIMBYs and occasionally the taxpayers.

  • Chad||

    You do realize that the average car runs at only about 1/3 of its capacity, right?

    Perhaps we should eliminate 2/3s of them, because they are waste.

  • ||

    I agree. The state/municipality in question should cut 2/3 of their publicly run cars.

  • ||

    There is no need to justify the rail system in Los Angeles. It's already a success and is used by hundreds of thousands of people every day.

    As far as it "not going anywhere useful," it may not be going anywhere useful for YOU, but the people who need to go where it does go, USE IT. Maybe you don't need to go to Long Beach, downtown LA, Hollywood, North Hollywood, East L.A., Highland Park, Pasadena, South Pasadena, but there are hundreds of thousands of people who do, and use the system on a daily basis.

    The more than gets built, the more people will use it. Your pro-road, anti-rail bias is IRRATIONAL. The more people that use the trains, the less crowded the roads are. I know they are insane now, but they would be EVEN WORSE if you didn't have 150,000 people a day using the Red/Purple Lines, 70,000 people a day using the Blue Line and 30,000 people a day each using the Green Line and Gold Line. If the trains were not there, those people would have to use buses; buses that would take up more room on your precious roads.

  • ||

    Metro has responded on their blog.

    http://thesource.metro.net/201.....8-percent/

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