Wednesday, May 25, 2016

LA's Expo Line extension

LA is not a transit town. Even the LA Times has figured this out. They show fewer riders now than when rail transit building began in 1985.  Billions have been spent to achieve this result, But we live in a bootleggers-and-Baptists world where costs and benefits (resource scarcity) are not a big deal.

I decided to test LA's new Expo Line extension this AM. It was a fine-weather LA morning and I was carrying minimal gear. I walked past my parked car and kept walking to the nearest Expo station, about 2 miles away. I am a 10,000-steps-a-day man anyway, so no problem. The walk to the station took just over 40 minutes. The senior fare was $1.75. (A transit pass would have made this less.)

The train arrived 10 minutes late. They have only been in service less than a week.

I got a seat and was able to read. The ride was smooth. The car that I was in was filled with passengers most of the way. Late arrival explained some of this.

One reason to do my experiment is that the train does stop at USC's doorstep, my destination. Total door-to-door trip time for me was 87 minutes. The median morning drive-time for me (over many trials over many years) is about 25 minutes,  So, I "lost" about an hour this AM. This is not that bad considering that one of the trip ends is exactly at the station where I alighted.

Assuming it's similar on the way home, at the margin, will I give up 2 hours a day, every day? LA is not a transit town.

Full disclosure, as an emeritus, I get free parking (looking at you, Prof Shoup) and save that $12/day outlay, Still, 2 hours a day?


The trip home was better. The train arrived on schedule and I happened to arrive at the station just as it pulled in. So that was about 20 minutes less than the AM (when I would have had a 10 min wait had the train been on schedule). But the afternoon walk was uphill and, being later in the day, more tiring. Marginals are not supposed to be fixed. So averaging the 60 minutes added to my normal commute in the AM and about 35 minutes added in the PM, the marginal time cost per day is just over 1.5 hours.