Bike Shop Hosts “The Great Measure R” Debate

There’s been one small thing missing from the Measure R debate.  With the exception of political posturing from county supervisors and a small debate hosted by Green LA, there hasn’t been an actual "debate" between the proponents and opponents of Metro’s sales tax proposal.

Well, thanks to Josef Bray-Ali and his Flying Pigeon bicyle shop, that’s going to change tomorrow evening.  The bike shop will be hositng the Southern California Transit Advocate’s Hank Fung and the Bus Bench’s Randall "Bus Tard" Flemming tomorrow evening at 7:00 P.M.  The Flying Pigeon shop is located at 5711 N. Figueroa St., Los Angeles, CA 90042.

Here’s a description of the debate in Josef’s own words.  To read an even more full description check out his blog at Flying Pigeon LA.

The debate will be sizzling! It will start with introductions at 7
p.m. A coin toss will determine who gets to offer their argument for or
against Measure R first, each speaker will get a chance to rebut the
other’s argument..

In the “Yes on R” corner we’ll have Hank Fung, Treasurer of the Southern California Transit Advocates,
a nonprofit transit advocacy group which is one of the supporters of
Measure R listed in the ballot pamphlet. Fung, a licensed civil
engineer, is currently pursuing a master’s degree in public
administration at Cal Poly Pomona.

In the “No on R” corner, we’ll have Randall “BusTard” Fleming, a writer, public transit advocate, and regular contributor to The Bus Bench,
a Los Angeles-based blog. A former magazine publisher (Angry Thoreauan,
1987-2001), with 20 years of experience in the print industry, he has
also contributed to a great many books, periodicals and newspapers in
Los Angeles and New York: New York Post, Working World Magazine,
Brooklyn Spectator, Discover Hollywood!, Home Reporter, Ben Is Dead,
Flipside, Los Feliz Ledger, Sabotage in The American Workplace
(Pressure Drop Press), Notes From the Underground: Zines and the
Politics of Alternative Culture (Verso), and several of the
Unreinforced Masonry Studio books about Los Angeles. He presently
resides in downtown Los Angeles but is occasionally at large, lurking
about in the Lower East Side and Brooklyn.

  • Take a look at a history of L.A.’s struggles to improve its mass transit system and the potential benefits of the passage of Measure R at the transport politic.

  • the transport politic,

    I hope you’ll have a chance to stop by the debate!

    I’m off to finish preparing the shop for tonight and buy some wine and snacks for everyone.

  • Watched the video of the debate. Thought it went great! Kudos to you Josef for organizing a very civil and interesting discussion.

    I thought Mr. Fung did a good job of realistically and soberly discussing the benefits and problems with public transit planning and funding.

    The only real argument I heard from the BusTard during the entire debate was that the MTA has mis-managed public transit funding in the past, and so they should not be trusted in the future. To me, this seems very counterproductive. How can you claim to be a transit advocate when your only argument is that the MTA is corrupt, so don’t allow them to do anything? He didn’t seem to mention an alternative that would result in a better public transit system in L.A., he simply said we shouldn’t try to get a better one because the MTA will screw it up. How does this advocate transit, when all he’s doing is suggesting that people not provide funding for it? It really irks me how people who claim to support a better public transit system for this city are telling other people to take an action (by voting no) that will inhibit progress toward that better system. And if you believe that the MTA is simply incapable of doing what they say they will do, then how does he expect to ever get a better transit system anyway?

    I do recall he mentioned he’d like the bus and rail fares to go up, thinking that then the bus riders would have more leverage and could strike or boycott in order to reduce revenue for the city and “demand” an improved system. But I’m inclined to agree with Mr. Fung: slightly increased fares are not going to magically give the riders political clout. The only way I could see that working would be if the fares were increased so much that they actually covered the full cost of the ride. . . but that would mean tripling the fares or more, and I think it would just lead to fewer people being able to afford to take public transit, as the cost per mile per person would be less competitive against driving one’s car. Hence you’d have a drop in ridership (at least in the short term), and raising the fares would actually decrease the revenue going to MTA.

    BusTard also downplayed the successful projects that stemmed from the previous sales tax increases. Measure A did provide funding for the blue line, as he mentioned (before implying that the blue line is unsafe and useless), but Measures A and C together have also provided funding for the the red line, the green line, the gold line, the rapid bus system, the gold line extension, and the expo line. How can he say that MTA has never done anything right, when in the past 20 years they have given us 4 major metro rail lines (with the expo representing a 5th in just a year or two), and the rapid system?

    BusTard said about the Rapid buses: “they go just as slow as the local buses because they sit in the same traffic”. But the whole point of the rapids is that they don’t stop as often as the locals. They are more of an express service. So, while they do travel at the same speed in traffic as the locals, they make fewer stops, and so can provide shorter door-to-door commute times.

  • Mr. Galvan:

    Please give us an up-to-date report on how well and timely the Gold Line extension, the fare gates and the state of Measure R is doing despite my “only real argument” being how the “MTA has mis-managed public transit funding in the past, and so they should not be trusted in the future.”


“Pigeon Politboro:” with photographer Gil Garcetti

At Flying Pigeon LA, we’re big believers in “Bicycle Culture 2.0” – the idea of people riding their bikes as they do normal, day-to-day things. It is funny to some that this type of activity even needs a special name, but in our experience (born and raised in Los Angeles), it helps to explain what […]