Wednesday, January 27, 2016

LA transit (again)

Today's LA Times reports on transit in LA this way:  "Southland transit agencies report shrinking ridership as investments continue to grow." Spend-more-get-less" has been going on for years. What is new is that this has finally been "discovered" by the Times.

But "Metro plans to spend more than $12 billion over the next 10 years to build two new rail lines and three extensions, the largest capital investment of any transit agency in the country." This speaks for itself. The included graphic shows the high-water mark for transit use in LA since 1985 -- just before authorities began diverting funds to rail -- and when there were fewer people in the region -- and fewer low-income immigrants.

In 2010, Clifford Winston wrote:  "Although U.S. cities have spent close to $100 billion since 1970 building, and billions more operating, new urban rail transit lines, ... less than 5 percent of all commutes to work were taken on urban transit in 2004, down from 21 percent in 1960." (p. 61). That was then.

These mega-projects were supposed to be game-changers and "to entice people out of their cars." Hasn't happened.  People and planners are often not on the same page.

Might Uber (and similar outfits) be the game-changer? Perhaps. Just like cheap energy: not because of policy but in spite of it. City hall cronies in many places work hard to stifle the Ubers.


There is an endless parade of these disasters. Here is one more. What do they all have in common?