Traditionally, the Friday before a holiday weekend is considered the time to release news that you don’t want to get traction in the public. Sure, the story could get picked up, but there’s less people watching the news that night or reading the newspaper the next morning than any other time.
Both the City and Metro went for a Friday info dump, although I’m sure neither agency would admit it, last week. Metro released the draft environmental documents for the Westside Extension of the Purple Line. Meanwhile, the city released the dates for the public meetings for the most recent draft of its Bike Plan.
For Metro, the reason was obvious, the Draft Report showed that automobile congestion will not see a significant reduction after the Purple Line is extended from Wilshire/Western to Westwood. While this seems like a somewhat obvious “revelation” to people who follow transit issues; after Metro and politicians have spent years promising that transit would unlock Southern California’s streets to smooth flowing traffic, it might come as a shock to everyone else. Remember the “Yes on Measure R” ad campaign that talked about freeways more than anything else? Let’s just say transit officials and boosters didn’t sell Measure R based on creating a twenty five minute trip between Union Station and Westwood.
Metro’s fears were probably well founded. The Los Angeles Times’ coverage led with the “bad news” that the subway won’t be the savior for Westsiders trapped in their cars. Unless, said westsiders are one of the thousands of people who will use the subway everyday that is. If you go through the entire Times article, it repeatedly discusses the subways benefits for “transit riders” before sadly telling us those benefits won’t be there for everyone else. It’s almost as though the Times believes train riders are an entitled group of people that commute in a private freeway under the ground and don’t even have to drive, while everyone else is forced into their sad little cars and won’t see any benefits of this billion dollar boondoggle.
As expected, most of the news reports that followed picked up the Times’ take, although Curbed did follow The Source and focus on the twenty five minute commute between Westwood and Union Station promised in the documents. For the record, the public hearings for the DEIR are scheduled for later this month (check out our calendar for more information), and you can read the environmental documents themselves at http://metro.net/westside.
For City Planning, the issue was different. This is the third time they’ve released dates for hearings on the Bike Plan, and the last two times the meeting schedule was met with outrage from the cycling community after only four meetings were scheduled for a city with four million people. Because there were only four meetings scheduled again, Planning did the only thing they could and released the schedule not just on the Friday before a holiday weekend…they did it at 5:40 P.M.
You can see the full schedule at the official Bike Plan Website.