Schwarzenegger Proposes Making the 405 a Double Decker Freeway

To the casual observer, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger seems like an environmental crusader.  He signs anti-sprawl legislation, he sues the federal government over emission standards for automobiles, he flies around the world to attend greenhouse gas conferences.

But to those of us that live here and have been working to clean and green our transportation system; the Governor’s track record has been somewhat lacking.  We roll our eyes at his daily jet commute and react in horror at his efforts to roll back environmental protections in the name of environmental progress.  Yesterday, the Governor attended a press conference at the site of the most expensive highway project to be funded with Stimulus funds and unwittingly removed any doubt that he doesn’t understand the connection between freeways, the environment and public health.  From the Daily News:

“This is why it is so important because we have this bumper-to-bumper traffic to go and build an extra lane and build out the 405 freeway,” Schwarzenegger said at a news conference at a Caltrans construction yard along Mulholland Drive. “And hopefully, eventually, we will build on top of the 405 Freeway because I think we
need another freeway on top of the existing one.”

As you would expect, both the Daily News and KTLA, who’s story is above, are silent on the amazing environmental damage the construction and usage of an extra four lanes of 405 would bring to the area and the state.  If you don’t have a chance to watch KTLA’s coverage, reporter Jesse Gray seems a mix of whimsical and incredulous about the prospect; but ends with a wish that it happen in his lifetime.  And naturally, there’s no mention of the Governor’s plan to bankrupt transit agencies throughout the state at the same time he’s proposing ANOTHER massive freeway project for an area already choking in its own traffic.  Let’s not even talk about the report released earlier this week showing that living near freeways leads to hardened arteries.

Anyone that thinks that the Governor was just speaking off the cuff about his most recent attempt to destroy local air quality; the state has prepared a sketch of what the raised 405 would look like.

The state has made the official transcript, and full video, from yesterday’s press event available at its official website.  Joining the Governor are state officials, business leaders, and union leaders.  Mayor Villaraigosa wasn’t planning on attending, according to his daily schedule, but that didn’t stop the Governor from joking that he was “caught” in traffic.  As a matter of fact, it makes a fun game: go through the press conference and count the number of times the Governor jokes about people being late to the press conference because of traffic versus the number of jokes about the Terminator movie franchise.

As a last note to anyone reading this and thinking it’s impossible that this project will move forward, after all Metro and Caltrans just embarked on the I-405 HOV project through the Sepulveda Pass; remember the words of Bart Reed, executive director of the Transit Coalition, speaking about the Governor’s newest scheme to rob transit last month.

…unfortunately with this Governor rumors often turn out to get worse as they get closer to policy.  The Governor is disingenuous when he claims to be green on transportation.  The only time he’s green is when a special interest lobbies to turn a brown project green or when it comes to promoting cars that are slightly more clean than others.

  • KateNonymous

    The only way I can see this not being completely awful is if one deck is reserved for buses and other forms of public transportation.

    Of course, that won’t keep it from being an eyesore.

  • What an insipid idea.

    A better idea would be to speed up a Sepulveda LRT between LAX and Sylmar.

  • If this blog wasn’t so reactionary lately, maybe we can pause for a second and see what this drawing is about… it shows an elevated track for light rail and what appears to be an extra HOV lane. http://www.ktla.com/news/landing/ktla-photo-405-double-decker,0,1663976.photo

    Well duh! How else are we supposed to build a light rail over the Sepulveda Pass? We sure as hell aren’t going to tunnel under the freeway. The photo link that Damien posted in his rant actually undermines his own point.

    Schwarzenegger may be an idiot for saying he wants to build another freeway on top of 405 but evidently this is not what the State is proposing. And far for me to be the one saying so but what has happened to this blog’s objectivity?

  • skd

    One big earthquake during rush hour and you could potentially wipe out thousands of car drivers in one fell swoop when the the double deck freeway pancakes.

    Sometimes I wonder if all those anabolic steroids the Governator took back in the day has affected his critical-thinking skills.

    A better solution is to build a light rail right down the middle of the 405. From Valley to Palos Verde. Put toll booths on the 405 and charge cars during rush hour, to reduce the congestion. Arnold is still stuck in the 1970’s…it’s time he moves into the 21st century.

  • Building for increased traffic, isn’t it? For a modest Norwegian from the other part of the globe it is really hard to understand why the americans always think grow, grow, increase, – -rather than reducing area consuming and polluting traffic. Trafikklogistikk (Traffic Logistics) is the concept giving priority to industry, service and buses during congested periods. Who of you want to and have the courage to develop this together with me? see http:TTtrafikklogistikk.com

    regards

    Knut Bøe
    Norway

  • I wouldn’t oppose a second level on the 405 for transit or bikes, but I definitely oppose building a second deck for more cars, including carpool lanes.

    Whatever, there’s no money for this project so it’s not too dangerous at this point.

    Making it easier for people to drive is the opposite of what a city concerned about sustainability should be doing. We should be making it easier for people to walk, bike, and use transit instead.

  • DanaPointer

    KTLA seems super confused on this one, bzcat is right, diagram shows rail and busses on the 2nd level, however the KTLA guy never mentions that and instead implies more single occupancy vehicles.

    What Damien should have written is, elevated rail above freeway, PRO, more cars on second level, AGAINST!

    Also I’d add that bus lanes would be dangerous because they could be converted back to car lanes, however rail can’t be, also if there is rail, I don’t think we need the bus lanes.

  • bzcat:

    I initially thought that was a light rail line too, but the sketch is so blurry that it’s difficult to tell whether the vehicle shown is a train or bus. Also, the only visible text reads “and 1 HOV lane in each direction on elevated…” I suppose there’s a good chance that could still be a rail line, but I never underestimate the ability of these guys to screw up rail projects in LA.

    If a train does get built, it seems like there are cheaper ways to do it than on an elevated structure. Though attaching rail to a car project may have the silver lining of getting car lovers to grudgingly accept it, let’s also be wary of a nightmare scenario where a potential train line becomes a four-lane highway – paid for by Measure R “transitway” money.

  • Erik G.

    Extend Subway from Westwood to Van Nuys (with stops enroute). Yes, tunnel under Sepulveda Pass, just like the Red Line does from HH to Universal/Noho.

    Much cheaper and safer than an elevated highway in earthquake country.

  • Ryan

    If the upper level has trains and busses, I’m down. Otherwise no, obviously. Idk why this article was written in such strong opposition when the project concept seems to be generally transit-friendly.

  • ds

    Would building an elevated structure along with all the stations on top of an actively used freeway be any cheaper than just building a subway? I doubt it.

  • KateNonymous

    @DanaPointer, I disagree that bus lanes would be “dangerous.” Buses are also mass transportation, and will overlap but not necessarily replicate light rail routes. For example, there are Commuter Express (and Antelope Valley, and Santa Clarita) buses that transport people down the 405 from points north heading into the Westside in the morning, and back in the evening. However, these buses do not just run on the freeways; they also run on surface streets. Right now the best they can do is the overcrowded and incomplete (and difficult to access) HOV lanes.

    I don’t see a good reason not to include dedicated bus lanes in this plan. “Cars might drive there somehow” doesn’t measure up.

  • skd and others who say no because of eartquakes are unreasonable. Mexico city gets more earthquakes than LA, so when they built an upper level to the periferico, it was built to withstand an 8.9. Obviously, any construction in LA would be built to the same standards.

    Now, I’m not saying I support this, I’m just saying that there are better reasons to oppose it than “earthquakes”.

    Mexico faced a lot of criticism by spending so much money on a highway….but besides the 2nd floor, the past 5 years have seen the creation of a brand new subway line, 2 real BRT routes, the first suburban railroad in mexico and this year bike share. In other words, Mexico city spread the transportation money around.

    I wouldn’t be opposed to the sketch shown, which appears to have rail tracks and an HOV/bus lane. Even better would be two light rail tracks and two intercity tracks.

  • Derek

    “And hopefully, eventually, we will build on top of the 405 Freeway because I think we need another freeway on top of the existing one.”

    Quit guessing, governor! You can’t know additional lanes are needed until traffic demand management (congestion-priced toll lanes) is in place.

  • I would have thought this state learned its lesson about double-deck freeways after the Loma Prieta quake in 1989 — http://www.xomba.com/san_francisco_earthquake_oct_17_1989_20_years_ago

    Those who do not learn from history…

  • We should all remember that the most expensive aspect of heavy rail subway construction is the stations and their mitigations. Stations that would not exist in a Sepulveda pass portion of a Van Nuys-405-Sepulveda Line.

    It is not just conceivable, but highly likely that an elevated line (with or without two additional carpool lanes) would be much more expensive and a multitude more environmentally disruptive in construction and operation than a tunnel under the Sepulveda pass.

    Also, I think the question of whether a Van Nuys-405-Sepulveda line would require the capacity of light rail or heavy rail has yet to be determined. I image that a line connecting Van Nuys, UCLA, Westwood, West LA, Palms, Fox Hills, LAX and then into the South Bay at a minimum would require 4-car light rail vehicles.

    All in all, let the Governor have his proposal, get the CTC to fund a full EIR/S, and figure out how to direct those highway expansion capital dollars towards a truly necessary transit project.

  • Tony

    KateNonymous, what DanaPointer was implying was that if we made bus only lanes, it won’t take long before politics get a stranglehold and allow mix traffic flow. It’s happened before, it was called the Interstate 10 San Bernardino Freeway El Monte BUSWAY; exclusive to buses from about 1973 to 1976 and now an HOV lane albeit still holding the title as a busway.

  • Erik G.

    Thanks Tony for pointing out what has been long forgotten by most about El Monte Busway.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/El_Monte_Busway

    And let us never forget what Hilda Solis did to the Busway with NO ADVICE from transportation professionals. Kinda of like what Arnold proposed today!

  • Erik G.

    And let us also not be aware of what is about to happen to the Busway in that it will be turned into Lexus Lanes next year thanks to Bush Cronyism:

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/03/16/AR2008031603085.html

    and Metro’s selling out to Uncle Sam for some Hungarian Paper Mache:

    http://beta.metro.net/project/expresslanes/

  • Erik G.

    (Geez I wish there was an edit function)

    What will be real fun if the double-double 405 gets built will be the Westside and driving there. Is there any capacity left on the surface street network to digest all those extra cars coming from the valley? Or are all of these new trips going to head to El Segundo?

  • JDRCRASHER

    I definitely agree with Damien Goodmon. We don’t need another freeway.

    Instead, we should be focusing on a rail corridor from the Sylmar Metrolink Station to Long Beach. I’d prefer it to be a COMPLETELY grade-seperated LRT corridor so it can be compatible with the Harbor Subdivision to Long Beach, while making up for such a distance by running at a constant speed of 55 Mph. I also believe it should continue North into the SFV by should running on Van Eyes Blvd, Parthenia, and THEN Sepulveda to the Sylmar metrolink station. This would essentially fuse the 405/Sepulveda and Van Eyes corridors. I don’t think the density is there (unlike Santa Monica, which would get both a Purple and Expo Line due to it’s high density) for building both as completely seperate corridors.

    LA being a polycentric city, needs a grid system, not a downtown-focused system. So having this as a Purple Line extension won’t make much sense given the whole 405 Freeway is congested, not just between LAX and the SFV.

  • I propose turning the governor’s office into an outdoor latrine. Can I get a second to that motion?

  • Who wants a latrine that smells like cigar smoke?

  • Philip Obaza

    As Damien pointed out, the stations are what truly drive up the cost of these subways, and this is one project that thankfully (at least along part of its corridor) won’t require many.

    If we have to be cost effective, I would propose a Phase 1 of this project as an underground LRT or HRT beginning at Ventura/Sepulveda and ending in Westwood to meet up with the Purple line. The stations would be the following:

    – Sepulveda/Ventura
    – Getty Center
    – UCLA
    – Westwood Village

    All major hubs that would garner lots of ridership.

    With Phase 2, the line could go further south to the Expo Line.

    In a potential Phase 3, the line could be brought to LAX, etc.

    One big question remains, ‘What about extending north into the valley?’ While I’m supportive of this, the regions to the south seem like a higher priority (and this is coming from someone who live in the SFV!). There is also more rail connectivity in the south (with the future Crenshaw, Expo, Purple, Green, and Blue lines), something the valley is currently (with the exception of the Metrolink stops) lacking.

    Then there’s the question of HRT or LRT. HRT makes more sense, but that limits the compatibility with the other lines (it should be compatible with the Green/Crenshaw/Harbor Subdivision once it reaches the South Bay, yes?).

    LRT seems like the best bet for now.

  • Nancy

    Ha ha. The two news reporters laughed at the idea.

  • Erik G.

    I think Arnold should be advocating for the completion of the La Cienega/Laurel Canyon Freeway, which is partially built already in Baldwin Hills:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Laurel_Canyon_Freeway

    http://www.cahighways.org/maps-sc-fwy-pt2.html

    But something tells me he wouldn’t do that.

    P.S. given the stink that Bel Air raised over the construction of the Getty Museum, can you imagine the fuss they would make over an elevated anything in the Sepulveda Pass?

  • The structure drawing is the same as the elevated section of the Harbor Freeway transitway.

    But did you notice that its columns take up the width of two lanes on the freeway below, so for all that concrete it only nets two additional lanes?

    I’d expect it would be less expensive and less disruptive to cut a shelf along the east side of Sepulveda Pass for a pair of new rail tracks.

  • KTLA was reporting this yesterday as if it were just freeway lanes.

    LRT makes more sense long-term than HRT so that it can be extended south to LAX and north to Metrolink.

    Isn’t the portion connecting the Valley and Westwood partially funded by Measure R (granted as a pretty low priority).

  • Something really needs to be done that is NOT widening the freeway for even more cars. The idea is to have LESS cars on the road Anything that includes rail is fine by me. Subway would be ideal, but is very expensive. Elevated rail is fine just for the train. I don’t think it’s necessary though. There’s enough room down the middle of the 405 for it. Rail from N. Hollywood to Hollywood has worked great. It needs to be done in some form from Van Nuys to Westwood. Absolutely.

  • JDRCRASHER

    Phillip: If we have to be cost effective, I would propose a Phase 1 of this project as an underground LRT or HRT beginning at Ventura/Sepulveda and ending in Westwood to meet up with the Purple line.”

    Actually, I think it should begin at Ventura/Van Nuys, because that sets the stage for a Sylmar extension North with less obstacles (like street widening) and more opportunities than having it start at Ventura/Sepulveda, such as connecting to both the Van Nuys and Sylmar Metrolink stations.

    “One big question remains, ‘What about extending north into the valley?’ While I’m supportive of this, the regions to the south seem like a higher priority (and this is coming from someone who live in the SFV!). There is also more rail connectivity in the south (with the future Crenshaw, Expo, Purple, Green, and Blue lines), something the valley is currently (with the exception of the Metrolink stops) lacking.”

    I agree, but should funding become available, both extensions should be built.

    “Then there’s the question of HRT or LRT. HRT makes more sense, but that limits the compatibility with the other lines (it should be compatible with the Green/Crenshaw/Harbor Subdivision once it reaches the South Bay, yes?)”

    Yes, both the Crenshaw and Harbor Subdivision will be LRT (although I believe there’s a proposal to include a Metrolink line along the Subdivision to LAX).

    Steve K: “Subway would be ideal, but is very expensive. Elevated rail is fine just for the train. I don’t think it’s necessary though. There’s enough room down the middle of the 405 for it. Rail from N. Hollywood to Hollywood has worked great. It needs to be done in some form from Van Nuys to Westwood. Absolutely.”

    The problem with running it down the median is that it effectively kills a theoretical Getty station. Not everyone is gonna wanna get extra exercise walking UP to the museum. Besides, we can still have an LRT subway, similar to the Gold Line East LA extension between the Mariachi and Indiana stations.

  • The line should not run in the middle of the freeway, period. It almost completely removes any chance of development around the stations and will only make it harder for the train to interface with the other lines. And as JDRCRASHER points out, it eliminates the possibility of a stop at the Getty Center.

    An underground, 4-car LRT running at 10-20 minute headways should be enough to satisfy this corridor. HRT would be a better investment for the future, but I think inter-modality with the other light-rail lines is an even better investment (and will probably boost ridership).

    Certain parts of the line WILL have to be elevated (probably near or at LAX), but not in the middle of a noisy, traffic-ridden freeway.

    There are other places where HRT should be built (extending the Red Line to Burbank Airport and Sylmar, the Purple line to Santa Monica, West Hollywood, and Whittier, etc.), but unless it’s proven that HRT is more important than interfacing with the other light-rail lines, I don’t see why they should have it on this corridor.

  • evan

    We really need more freeways in southern california. Making it easier for people to get to work and to patronize businesses will improve everyone’s quality of life. People who live near freeways might not like it but w all due respect it is their own fault for living next to one. Public transit is too inconvenient and it should not be forced on people…most people who use it are poor or uneligible for driver’s licenses. Carpool lanes are just plain stupid and make congestion worse.

  • “People who live near freeways might not like it but w all due respect it is their own fault for living next to one.”
    —–

    I grew up a couple blocks away from a freeway. When I was a kid I got asthma. Having an asthma attack is like drowning. It’s a terrifying, unforgettable experience. Poor people often don’t have a choice about where to live. They have to go to where the housing is cheap. Surprise surprise, it tends to be cheap near freeways.

    Think about that next time you drive around. “Improving everybody’s quality of life”. What total bullshit.

  • ds

    Edward’s post sums up a pretty common mentality.

    “I like commuting on the freeway alone in my car, therefore government policy should subsidize that mode of transportation above all others.”

    The problem is that has been the official government policy for decades, and we’re living with the results. This single-mode focus works okay in low density areas where land is cheap enough and traffic volumes are low enough. See Texas. It works horribly in dense, expensive urbanized areas.

    The idea of building significant freeway expansions in LA makes those proposals for personal mag-lev pods transporting people around town sound reasonable in comparison.

    The cost of the necessary property acquisitions would be astronomical, and the political and legal opposition from the affected neighborhoods would almost certainly prevent construction from ever happening. Unless you can find $100 billion sitting in a pot somewhere and a way to muzzle community opposition, you better come up with some more realistic alternatives.

    The only way to seriously deal with congestion is to focus on high capacity transit. A rail line can transport far more people per mile than a freeway lane. Every other region in the country that has the LA region’s density has a significant rail system.

    We put off the inevitable for so long that we’re now in an awful position where our roads are overflowing but the rail system is woefully inadequate. It’s time we fix that.

  • David Galvan

    1.) Yes to what bzcat said: Damien N’s original post (and the news report itself) seems to imply that Ahnold is proposing a double-decker freeway for cars, but the schematic shows an elevated rail line and bus lanes. That is a good thing, not bad!

    2.) @Drew Reed: That is definitely a rail line in the schematic: If you watch the actual news report video in full screen, the sketch is much clearer. There is text that clearly says “Track 1” and “Track 2” above the train cars.

    3.) And yes to what Damien Goodmon said: while the tunneling for a subway would be expensive, in the case of the sepulveda pass I just don’t see it being viable any other way. I don’t think it’s politically feasible to take lanes away from the 405 car-drivers in order to put a green-line-style rail line in the freeway median; and this elevated rail line concept may end up being even more expensive than subway and is probably not as earthquake-safe as a subway would be. Actually, someone else mentioned carving into the side of the pass canyon instead of tunneling underground completely.. . that seems feasible in some sections, but probably not all the way through the pass. And a tunnel could take a roughly straight-line route, while a cut-in shelf would follow the contours of the canyon, thus taking longer to traverse the pass.

  • Ben

    Yo Dawg! I heard you like driving, so I put a freeway on your freeway so you can drive while you drive.

  • “We really need more freeways in southern california. Making it easier for people to get to work and to patronize businesses will improve everyone’s quality of life. People who live near freeways might not like it but w all due respect it is their own fault for living next to one. Public transit is too inconvenient and it should not be forced on people…most people who use it are poor or uneligible for driver’s licenses. Carpool lanes are just plain stupid and make congestion worse.”

    —————

    There are so many delusional statements here it’s hard to know where to begin.

    More freeways will not necessarily make it “easier” to get to places. It will just create more cars and more congestion off the freeways.

    Poor people who live next to freeways shouldn’t be thought of as expendable. Evan’s post drips with entitlement.

    Millions of Southern Californian’s use public transit everyday. Many of us CHOOSE to use it, not because we don’t have driver’s licenses (for I do), but because we find it more convenient than paying for an automobile, gas, parking, insurance, maintenance, etc…

    No one is “forcing” this person to use public transit. But we are under no obligation to subsidize his single-occupancy motoring lifestyle at the cost of the long-term economic and environmental viability of Southern California for everyone else.

    Rebuilding our mass-transit system WILL make it easier for everyone to get to more places and improve everyone’s quality of life.

    “Evan” is clearly filled with automobile entitlement. Fortunately, his world view was defeated at the polls in 2008 when Measure R passed and represents an automobile-only Los Angeles mindset that is simply unsustainable.

  • Walt Brewer

    It seems noone in this most congested large metro area in USA realizes the reason is LA is close to the bottom, yes bottom, in freeway lane-miles/capita. Int it keeps righton building more mass transit that relatively few uses compared to overcrowded roads.

    Whatever the Gov, or KTLA thinks, the only practical use of double decking is to open it to all personal vehicles. That,s what give mobility. That’s what the travelers want and the economy needs.

    More buses or light rail sound environmetially friendly, but experience in LA and around the coutry says thay are so rejected they use as much energy as cars, have seats filled no better than cars, and take twice as long to get anywhere after a couple mandatory transfers.

    Wake up to what we really need.

    Go Gov Go!!

    BTW: LA already has a well built short elevated section on the Harbor Freeway. Unfortunately it is restricted to buses and HOV’s. How has it hurt the environment?

  • Sorry Walt, but public transit does not use as much energy as everyone driving a single occupancy automobile.

  • Walt, I cannot offer a rebuttal free of personal invective about your weight, intelligence, and proclivity to imbibe the body fluids of others for pay.

    I will simply say this: UR RONG.

  • Every new mile of freeway is a free pass for developers to build hundreds of new suburban houses in the Inland Empire. Road space sows the seeds of its own destruction. The less traffic there is, the more people drive. What’s stopping them?

    We’ve wasted enough time accommodating cars in LA, it’s about time we started accommodating the alternatives. We should build dense, mixed-use areas that allow people to walk, support frequent transit, and shorten driving distances; and take bike-friendly streets seriously.

    If somebody argues that expanding capacity for history’s most environmentally destructive mode of transportation helps the environment one more time, I’m going to be confirmed in my belief that America is drunk.

  • tinks

    Ad double decker freeway?! That’s just… disgusting. Great. I need to get out of this ugly city, pronto.

  • Whenever you hear someone claiming that “relatively few uses [sic]” LA’s trains, you know that they have never ridden a train here. I rode the Blue Line last weekend, and due to Expo construction the trains were reduced to running every 30 minutes. That was enough time for the train I was on to fill to the point where it was nearly impossible to move. The problem with trains here is not that no one rides them, but that they don’t cover a large enough area for people to commit to them. I think getting a rail connection to the Westside will help to remove the false assumptions about low ridership, though I expect them to persist for a long time.

  • Walt Brewer

    Ok, all you freeway/automobile haters out there, lack of roads to keep up with the increasing overwhelming need and perference for autos has created a mess. And autos have been over designed for their community essential personal transportation funtion, the basis for the nation’s productivity.

    Don’t just say more mass transit. In the 25 years Texas Transportation Institute has kept records, and almost to the beginning of the Jerry Brown Era of Limits,which pronounced mass transit instead of freeways would absorb growth, mass transit’s ridership share has slipped from 2.5% to 2.1%, both meaningless in the gross mobility picture. This despite $ billions spent, currently 27% of total transportation budget. Delay on roads has incresed 175%, and costs of fuel and time wasted, 500%.

    Read Cato Institute’s new book,”Gridlock” for real world numbers, even though you may not agree with it’s comments and conclusions.

    But how about some positive ideas instead of slogans out of the smart growth playbook? Or technically correct, but apparently intended to mislead, like Dan Wetzel’s “public transportation uses more energy than SOV’s”? But average auto occupancy is about 30%, just as good as mass transit vehicles. The national data base shows the total system energy advantage is only 7%. Only 30% or so occupancy for mass transit simply reflects how badly it misses the mark compared to regional needs, and squanders it’s theoretical full load efficiency. And why no uproar over those nearly empty buses running around powered by dirty Diesel engines?

    Transportation is not an end product, it is an important contribution to community productivity and social interactions. Can you imagine trying to make a moderen community efficient, and at any density level with even a few 10’s percent mass transit time inefficient inconvenient travel?

    With overwhelming “market share”, improved autos have the most leverage to reduce energy and GHG use. Examples: The entire mass transit system would have to run with no fuel just to match savings from a 1 mpg auto improvement. And the new standard for 2016 will produce an 8 mpg improvement. If that 30% improvement is also extended to mass transit and mass transit ridership share doubles, (both unlikely), the savings in actual gallons of fuel will be over 10 times that for mass transit.

    Why do you want to hang the future on revived expensive infrastructure, long rejected, and with no real world meaningful contribution to oil dependency and GHG eduction?

    Yes I’d like to see better solutions than more roads. Please take a look at overseas development of USA originated automated personal transport. Masdar in UAE is developing a whole no auto city thus equipped. Very light vehicles electrically driven safely on dedicated narrow guideways can preserve auto’s advantage of on-demand diredt no transfer travel to real destinations. In addition to the land saving, the energy consumption can be cut in half.

    Why isn’t this nation that prides itself in technology based solutions, and seeking innovation for major new job creating projects looking to 19th century cast offs instead of 21st century solutions, granted some risk taking?

    Autos are unlikely to disapper, but their detractors can offer somthing positive instead; and BTW: automated personal transport works well in dense development environments.

  • Ben

    Fare-free public transportation usually results in dramatic increases in ridership. Financing free public transportation is much cheaper than building new lanes, and healthier.

  • Autos are unlikely to disapper, but their detractors can offer somthing positive instead; and BTW: automated personal transport works well in dense development environments.

    —————-

    So your REAL agenda is the adoption of PRT?

    PRT is just an insipid attempt to inflict the car culture on public transit.

  • Bill

    Chile is the most seismic country in the world. Take a look at photos from Santiago de Chile… The city has mile-long tunnels, above-ground subways, below-ground subways, a tunnel under a river that goes for 5-miles, private toll highways, etc, etc. One can cross the city in 30 hour by taking various tunnels and toll lanes. It’s called technology and good structural engineering. Some people say, “well, one good earthquake”, but you have to think about that…buildings, bridges, and houses are built to sustain very large earthquakes…look at other metropolis situations: San Francisco, Tokyo, Manila, etc…

  • Walt Brewer

    For Ben and Dan. Suggest you talk. Free fares for more region-wide mass transit would promote sprawl that Dan doesn’t like.

    Fares are close to free already. less than 40% of operating cost, and free of amortizing capital cost. Highway users pay at least 90% of operating AND capital costs. See National Transportation Data Base, and “Gridlock”.

    No I’m not pitching PRT. Just a “Factivist”.At the end of my already long message, I omitted another option for automation; Sometimes called “electronic tailgating” to reduce the separation between cars automatically. It has been tested briefly, and has the potential for tripling highway throughput.

    The vital element is to preserve on demad personal trasport, autos now supply. Clearly after 30 or so years of trying at great expense and highly subsidied fares, travelers have rejected behavior management attempts to revert to the stop and go, stop and go, transfer a couple times time wasting process to get to real destinations.

    As noted PRT likes higher densities if you think enough will undergo behaviour modification to live in crowded hedonic enclaves. It is also your favorite public transport, available to all drivers, and non-drivers. It respects their real travel needs.

    BTW: Do you realize Metro LA is the most dense in USA? Yes including even the NYC Metro area with its Manhatten, subways and all, and even then mass transit is only 10% rideshare.

    For more, suggest you read Chapters 8 & 9 in “Gridlock”. Let’s look ahead not back to the 19th century. Count how many Internet contacts you have, even me, compared to your immediate neighbors.

  • “Do you realize Metro LA is the most dense in USA?”
    —–

    Yeah, if you take the average density of the entire region. But the average density doesn’t matter so much as a localized density. For transit, the density that matters is the density that’s right along the line. So that’s what I’m talking about. This argument is misleading and you know it. Compare the density of the San Fernando Valley to the density of Manhattan.

    “With overwhelming ‘market share’, improved autos have the most leverage to reduce energy and GHG use.”
    —–

    I’m not against cleaner cars, but car companies, car consumers, and public policymakers generally are (rhetoric to the contrary notwithstanding). The technology to make electric cars has been in place for a century and it’s still sitting on the shelf. Yet we’re led to believe that cleaner cars are always “right around the corner”. Bring them on. I welcome them. I’m just not holding my breath for them.

    I believe in the power of density and mixed land uses to change behavior (this includes reducing driving distances, something CATO et al. almost always seem to ignore). I’ve seen it work. When it makes sense to walk, etc., people walk. No matter what cars are powered by they still kill 40,000 Americans every year, contribute to a sprawling land use pattern that gobbles natural habitat, and contribute to our sedentary lifestyle and obesity epidemic.

    We need a balanced transportation system. We know how to make it work. So let’s do it already.

  • Walt Brewer

    For Chewie. You make a good argument for why mass transit is not good for LA. Few of those corridors between dense concentations where in repetitive trips mass transit indeed does well. And most are associated with communting, which in total amouts only to about 20% of trips.

    Providing good service in the vast majority of uniform density areas is unattractive with stop and go fixed route scheduled mass transit. Thus the oversized mostly empty buses.

    On demand flexible time and destination travel provided by autos is why they are the overwhelming need and preference.

    To emphasize mass transit would you design smart growth enclaves concentrating along a single main street? Doesn’t sound like the walking friendly town center park with tree shaded benches surrounded by boutique shops usually described.

    Yes for electric cars. Ways can be found to work around the inevitable range limitations; maybe fast swap batteries?). And electric power is relatively clean in California with little use of coal.

    But where are the roads to keep them, and new clean gas cars out of wasteful stop and go travel? (The Gov. seems to understand this, like or not his double deck solution.)A sprinkling of Transit Oriented Developments? Please do the math. A 50% development density increase requires transit plus walk/bike share of the new population of 40% just to keep auto trips in the same area from increasing. Assuming post recession growth equals the past ten years, the capacity of the complete mass transit system would have to be added every two years to keep up with just the growth in daily travel. OK, cut back in VMT, and maybe it could be stretched to one every three years.

    Wouldn’t it be better to invest in the personal transport the economy needs and the people want? PRT, for example, is expensive too, but it would reduce energy use even more with very lightweight vehicles powered directly by electricity, and operate them safely away from the monster pick ups and 18 wheelers. Agree 40,000 deaths, although declining, should be avoided.

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