Dodger Trolley on the Ropes

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Remember last year when the Dodgers announced that for the first time in years transit service would come back to Dodger Stadium?  It was a pretty great event, the Mayor was there and over 700 people a game used the free bus service to get the people to the stadium every day.  All in all, it was a pretty great story from last year.

Sadly, like a lot of great starts, the story probably won’t end well.

Well, between the city’s budget crisis and the Dodgers’ refusal to put any money into the "trolley" service, it looks as though the shuttle will go down as a half a season success that won’t be repeated.  The LADOT doesn’t believe they can run the service at cost, i.e. break even charging people for the service and doesn’t have the money to keep the service in place and the Dodgers just flatly refuse to fund it claiming that transit services shouldn’t be paid for by private entities.

Currently, the LADOT is trying to find other private sources but is recommending that if no new private sources step to the plate soon, then the LADOT reccomends that the city cancel the program for the 2009 season.  Why anyone besides the Dodgers would be interested in paying for this service, even if there were some sort of advertising or other deal attached.

This sad state of affairs isn’t news to people that have been following the saga of the succesful pilot program for awhile.  The impass between the Dodgers and LADOT has been ongoing since the pilot program ended last fall when the Philadelphia Phillies ended the Dodgers’ season.  The City Council has backed the LADOT with Councilman Bill Rosendahl publicly blasting the Dodgers for not stepping up.

It was about a year ago to the day that I wrote my first story for Los Angeles Streetsblog where I took a story from the old StreetHeat blog and re-wrote it with more details, text, and links to show the difference between Streetsblog and StreetHeat.  It was about the effort to bring back transit service to Dodger Stadium.  In the story, I commented that it seemed rushed to be trying to get a service up and running for baseball season when Spring Training is already underway.  I guess the more things change, the more they stay the same.

  • Why can’t the Dodgers see that the more people they can get to the stadium without having to sit in terrible traffic, and detract from their overall experience, the more people will come to the game? Also the more people that will come to the game BEFORE the game and they will spend more money in the stadium. It’s a win win situation for them if they would get their heads out of their…well you know. It boggles the mind that they cannot see the big picture. Additionally, there are hundreds of privately funded transit systems in this country that are profitable.

  • I rode this thing once. I will never ride it again.

    Full Disclosure: I’ve only ever been to one dodger game in my life, and I was excited about using the Dodger Trolley. But the fact is that the traffic getting to the game was so horrible that it took a full hour to go the two miles from Union Station to the stadium. To avoid that, I would have had to arrive at the station and get to the stadium over an hour earlier. And as I was leaving the stadium, I saw a line that must have been an eighth of a mile long queued up to get on one of the only 4 buses ready to take people through the traffic back to union station.

    I always support public transit. . . but the access to Dodger stadium is simply abysmal and there were far too few buses detailed to this service. If there is barely enough funding to support this low level of service, I say let it die.

  • Marcotico

    My question: Do they get any publicly subsidized traffic control personnel? Take that away from them, and let’s see if they think city services should be paid for by private entities.

  • I’ve always wondered why the Dodgers don’t just have a shuttle from the bottom of the hill on sunset up to the stadium. Dodger Stadium is served by Metro bus lines 2 & 4 (which run very frequently) – the hill is just pretty big for a lot of people. This is a transit rich area….The whole LADOT shuttle idea seems like duplicative service and inconsistent – didn’t it only run on weekend games or something?

    And maybe during the season give buses some sort of advantage so they don’t have to sit in the same traffic.

  • LAofAnaheim

    ^ This city doesn’t understand the concept of “bus-only” lanes. We have five lanes going south on Flower, and we cannot give one to the buses? The NB Figueroa section is bus-only for 2 hours a day. It’s pathetic. I go to other cities and you see miles of ‘bus-only’ lanes. Here, if a bus has any advantage, we take ’em away (see: the Harbor Transitway and the El Monte “bus”way).

  • Part of what LAofAnaheim is talking about has to do with how a bus is determined to affect “traffic” – that is to say, buses are technically “bad” for “traffic” using the Level Of Service metric.

  • How can we change the metric that puts the importance on “vehicles” behind moved rather than “people” being moved. A bus carrying 50 peoples should get much higher priority than a single-occupancy automobile carrying one.

  • Erik

    If McCourt and the Dodgers “refuse to fund it claiming that transit services shouldn’t be paid for by private entities”, then shouldn’t LADOT and Caltrans review if they really ought to be provding access from their (our) public roads to a private area like Dodger Stadium? C’mon LADOT, why not close off Academy Road, Scott Ave, Elysian Park Ave, Stadium Way and Park Road! Caltrans, why did you build exits 24 C and D? I don’t attend professional sports, why should my gas, sales and property taxes go to providing auto-only access to Frank’s temple of over-paid juiced-up actors?

    Just wait until the Dodgers want public monies to replace their now-second-oldest-ballpark in the National League!

  • Gus McDuff

    Give me a break! The Dodgers are a joke. They get the keys to the city but can’t even buck up a few K to get their fans to their games? Hats off to Rosendahl for speaking up.

    Considering the support the McCourts receive from city leaders and their loyal fan-base, they should be ashamed for not supporting a busline to their boring games. If Manny leaves…I’m on the first but outta here.

  • What McCourt and the Dodger organization do not understand is that the Dodger Shuttle is NOT “public transit”. Public transit is a mass transport medium that serves people who get on and off at various points along the route (local) or people who travel between hub points in a network (express).

    The Dodger Shuttle primarily benefits the Dodgers, because it makes it easier for more people to come to a game and spend money on tickets, food, souvenirs, etc.

    Public transit primarily benefits society as a whole, because it does not have a profit motivation.

    I will paraphrase what I said at the City Council Transportation Committee meeting last year about this: If Frank McCourt wants LADOT to transport people to his ball park so they can give him their money, let him take some of the money he makes on the deal and fund the shuttle himself.

    Open your checkbook, Frank.

  • Wad

    As a protest for the Dodgers having the worst public transit access of all Major League Baseball teams — and I’m not resorting to hyperbole; I’ve actually checked the system maps — any L.A. fans who want to drive (no pun intended) home the point of poor public transit access should try to work with the Angels organization to see if it would sponsor “Angel Trains” — special Metrolink or Amtrak service to the Anaheim Stadium Station.

    Theoretically, one can go with a Surfliner to an Angels or Padres game, but trains service ends too early to be used for night games.

  • Actually, Wad, that is hyperbole, because the Ballpark at Arlington, as does the entire City of Arlington, Texas, has zero public transit at all. Say what you will about the hike up Elysian Park Avenue, but at least you can get close by transit… and feel satisfied walking past all of the cars backed up out of the parking lot.

  • well, the night I went to the game last summer, the experience of getting from Union Station to the stadium on the “trolley” was so bad, and the line of people waiting for the bus on the way out of the stadium was so long, that I just asked my cousin for a ride back to where my car was parked at the NOHO redline station, which was on his way home anyway. From arriving at his car to getting on the freeway (leaving the stadium) didn’t take more than 15 minutes. I was actually really impressed about how efficiently the cars were able to get out of the stadium parking lot.

    If they provide some sort of bus-only lane, then yes I’d imagine this service could improve, but I don’t see that happening: The streets leading up to the stadium are narrow and residential. It would be a tight squeeze to section off a whole lane just for buses, and I’d imagine it would be hard to enforce.

    Maybe next time I’ll try the regular MTA service and hike the rest of the way. . . what line is it?

  • Stephen

    Lines 2 and 4 stop at Sunset & Elysian Park. 302 and 704 don’t stop there, but run along Sunset. Maybe you can take the limited/rapid from the Red Line, get off at Echo Park Ave, then transfer to the local for the last mile. Makes sense if you have a pass. Can catch the 2/302 from Vermont/Sunset Station, or the 4/704 from Vermont/Santa Monica Station.

    RE: Wad’s comment of Angels games… yes it’s a shame. The Ducks (next door at Honda Center) just started a cross promotion with Metrolink/Amtrak, after 15 years, for discounted game tickets, but no discounted train tickets. Hopefully we’ll see some late night Metrolink service (supposed to be until 11pm) once the Measure M money from the scrapped Centerline kicks in. But it’s too bad it will only run within county limits… though I have to say that Metrolink OC Weekend service has really low ridership based on my past experience. They could run a one car train that still wouldn’t be full.

    One thing I’d like to see is train service directly after games, that Caltrain runs after HP Pavilion events, or Coaster after Padres games.

  • Spokker

    Wad, last season Metrolink distributed a flyer for something called the Angels Fan Train. It was a nice effort to get people to ride the train to Angels games, but if you look closely they weren’t running special event service but simply advertising their normal train schedule and expecting people to take the Surfliner home.

    I don’t know if it drove ridership or not. I’m surprised there aren’t more efforts to get people to take transit to Angels games since the station is right there.

  • pesach kremen

    The Dodgers are a profit making entity, and as such should pay for those who do the right thing, and do not drive to tehir games. If a bus lane up the hill would help create it. if it inconvenineces those who waste energy and pollute (cars)so be it. Driving is worng when transit is available!

  • Well, to be honest, the Dodgers are indeed a private, profit-making entity. They probably will not do anything unless it improves their bottom line. If enough people are already showing up to the games that they are making a profit, what do the dodgers care whether it’s by car or bus or catapult?

    now, if they are not routinely hitting the stadium’s capacity, they might be motivated to spend some money to make it easier for more people to get to the stadium. But I’m sure that, from their point of view, they can have a bigger impact on their attendance and hence their bottom line by putting effort into keeping star players like Manny Ramirez than by funding the Dodger Trolley.

    Still, they SHOULD be chipping in for the service out of civic decency. But you can’t expect a private for-profit company to do things just because they are The Right Thing To Do.

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