Sunday, February 05, 2006

Transit fact and fiction in L.A.

The L.A. newspapers (yes, there is more than one) this Sunday have three op-eds re transit in this area. The Daily News includes "Rail wrong way: LA's system costs more than it saves" (not yet up on their site) by my colleagues Jim Moore, Tom Rubin and myself. The piece reiterates the point that the $7.6 billion of rail added to LA county's transit system over the last 15 years serves between one-quarter and one-half percent of all daily county trips but stacks up net losses of $575 million per year -- which can be pared to a $560 million a year deficit if favorable assumptions about nonrider benefits are invoked.

Why go over this again? On the same day that our piece appeared, the LA Times has two op-eds re LA transit. Ray Bradbury writes in "L.A.'s future is up in the air" that "Sometime over the next five years, traffic all across L.A. will freeze," and "The answer to all this is monorail." The link to this one works, so am not making any of this up.

Nearby, Times editorial writer Dan Turner writes about local transit service, "An Antarctic expedition is tough, but try going to LAX by train or bus." From his home to LAX by transit takes him two hours and 47 minutes -- and he reports that he was not carrying any luggage.

I can offer three bets. First, all LA traffic will not freeze in five years. Second, more wasteful rail transit will be built, surely worsening the bottom line that we estimated. And the second outcome will have nothing to do with the first.

Please, Ray Bradbury or anyone, I can use the money.