Gasoline Has Changed LA, But Will It Change Back?

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The Daily News printed a story today about some of the changes that Los Angeles has undergone as a result of high gas prices.  There’s nothing surprising about their findings, more people are biking, taking transit, and buying fuel efficient cars.  The Daily News’ article focuses on what steps will have to be taken to accomodate these changes if they continue to happen.

And yes, a fare hike is mentioned to help Metro deal with all of its new passengers.

But what if gas prices continue their recent trend, and fall back to $3 a gallon.  Up here in the Bay Area the local news is focusing on forecasters that are predicting gas prices to be between $3 and $3.25.

So here’s the question I put to you: If gas prices fall and don’t rise, what’s going to happen to Los Angeles?  Have we learned our lesson?  If we return to an era of $3 gasoline, will we see people continue to pursue alternative transportation, or will the city breathe a deep sigh of relief and get back in their SUV’s?

Photo: Sirigous/Flickr

  • Henry

    Unfortunately no everyone reverts to driving. old habits are truly hard to break in a city built around driving. then again its an election year and oil prices always go down before the elections. The smart people will stick to transit while all the lemmings will drive and stress out in traffic.

  • adam

    I had always thought that even if gas prices stayed over $4/gallon people would just go back to their old ways. So with gas prices heading back where they came from, I don’t expect next year looks any different than last year unfortunately.

    However on a longer time scale, in a large growing city such as LA, density is a forgone conclusion. Even more so considering recent buzz-words such as smart growth and transit hub… Therefore, the relative convenience of mass transit to autos should only increase and citizens will adjust accordingly.

  • Matt Gleason

    According to the US Census LA is the densest Metro in the country.

    We also have lots of parking spots.

    In and of itself, density does not encourage transit use.

    Congestion tolling and really expensive parking can.

  • Bah. I really hate that stat about LA being the densest metropolitan area. It has a lot more to do with a relatively uniform level of development over a very, very large area than with anything anyone walking around would recognize as density.

    Here’s a very nice post on the subject from someone smarter than me:

    http://austinzoning.typepad.com/austincontrarian/2008/03/perceived-densi.html

    And an excellent follow-up that puts LA at a more reasonable, but still impressive, no. 3.

    http://austinzoning.typepad.com/austincontrarian/2008/03/weighted-densit.html

  • Matt Gleason

    Hi Tad
    I appreciate the link. Its interesting, though I think I have some mehtodological problems with it–better addressed with the author.

    One note–
    leaving out those “last million people” ignores the fact that they are included in the MSA for a reason– they are socially and econmically integrated with it.
    Meaning they travel throughout it, and residents of denser areas travel to their less dense areas.

    besides, the fact remains that NY-NJ-Conn is the only MSA in the country where transit has a large mode share.

    Us moving from #1 to #3 does not change that

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