Times Bummer: Steve Hymon Laid Off


LA Observed is reporting the sad news that the Times’ transportation writer and former Bottleneck Blogger Steve Hymon fell victim to the budget ax earlier this morning. 

Because of Hymon’s efforts, Streetsblog and the LA Times actually had a pretty good relationship.  We regularly linked to each other’s stories and we both recognized the other’s important role in the debate around transportation policy.  When Hymon admitted to being a regular car-commuter in a Streetsblog interview, it helped create the longest thread in LA Streetsblog history as readers debated the role of the media in shaping and creating transportation policy.

The next steps for both the Times’ transportation beat and its former intrepid-reporter aren’t clear yet; but what is clear is that whether a Bottlnecker, a Streetsblogger or both; his contributions and reporting will be missed.

  • If you want to keep in contact w/Steve e-mail his Times address–yoy get an autoreply that includes contact information.

    Stupid move by the Times. Traffic is one of the perennial topics. KNX has traffic reports on the 5s. Incredible!

  • The Times must be really hurting. This is a major bummer, both for us and obviously for Steve. I hope he finds a new work home soon, we need him to keep reporting on transit related issues in L.A..

    Heard alot about Newspapers going under recently. The Times has, I think, done a decent job with their website. Perhaps they should start a “premium” website subscription service where the monthly subscription cost is less than the cost of a physical paper subscription. I think they’d make up for the difference in volume of subscriptions. It’s a tough problem, and I don’t have a well-thought out solution.

  • The most traffic-congested city in the U.S. just had the main newspaper lay off it’s traffic reporter. Yeesh.

  • Alan Mittelstaedt

    Steve Hymon was the best transportation writer in Los Angeles. Transportation is one of the top three issues in Southern California, and readers of the Los Angeles Times came to rely on his exclusive stories and analysis. The Times’ top managers should have taken 10 percent pay cuts before showing him the door. If it would reinforce this message, I’d cancel my subscription; instead, the paper will continue to play a smaller role in my life and thinking and that of thousands of other readers. Top editors Russ Stanton and David Lauter should resign themselves before tossing aside writers of the caliber of Steve Hymon. When they push out people like him, they are surrendering the newspaper’s role in keeping government accountable to the people on one of the most pressing issues facing everyone who lives in Southern California. The next time you’re stuck in traffic, or choking on exhaust, or wondering why Congress or the state Legislature is so slow to address our transit needs, blame the Los Angeles Times and its less-than-visionary leaders. On second thought, maybe I will cancel my subscription unless the Times brings back Hymon and restores must-read Bottleneck Blog to its glory days. By the way, with the Times’ surrendering key beats and expert reporters, does anyone really care if the Times folds? Let the online revolution continue.

  • Now I’m glad I didn’t accept the Times’ most recent offer to come back as a home delivery subscriber.

    Not only will this move result in poor print coverage of transportation issues — at a time when there will actually be things happening in the “Measure R era” — the Bottleneck Blog will undoubtedly be relegated to all those “there was a traffic tieup on the Interstate” items the remaining Times reporters have been posting as filler since the merger into the megablog.

    Sadly, one cannot even turn to the Daily News for an option, since Sue Doyle has been given more and more non-transportation beats to cover. She couldn’t even find time to cover the Metro governance council meeting that decided how the misconfigured San Fernando Rd. Rapid bus service would be fixed.

    Would the last person leaving Times Mirror Square (to use the address from the paper’s glory days) please remember to turn out the lights?

  • I’d pay to keep Steve giving away his talents online. We need someone on this beat!

  • I have to agree with Umberto Brayj — this city can’t afford to lose Hyman. I only hope some local news outlet has the good sense to offer him far more than he was making over there at Zell’s Folly.

    Not that I could offer him a dime — heck, I just wish someone would pay me, already — but if Steve ever wants to take over BikingInLa, the password is his.

  • Hymon was certainly one of the better ones. After duds like Lin “Wrong-Gong” and Caitlin Liu, as well as insightful people like Richard Simon that unfortunately were destined for bigger and better things, it was good to see someone grow in the role. Maybe we should all chip in to buy him drinks or lunch for his work?

  • Fallopia Simms

    Good riddance! Guess we’ll be seeing you on the Gold Line now, huh Steve?

  • C. Phylis

    Ha Ha! Delicious irony!!

    “I have money therefore I drive”- transportation reporter and class advocate Steve Hymon.

    Gold Line in Hymen’s world = mexicans, the old, the poor, homeless and now…..Steve Hymon!! Ha Ha!@!

  • I was annoyed by that interview too. However, it was to Steve’s credit that if he did in fact have a pro-car, anti-transit bias, he did an excellent job hiding it in his reporting. I’m certainly not happy he was laid off.

  • C. Phylis: I challenge you to find me one quote of from Steve that supports your statement:

    “Gold Line in Hymen’s world = mexicans, the old, the poor, homeless”

    You are lying. He never said that. He clearly stated that taking the train takes him 45 minutes at best, and driving takes him 25 minutes typically. He stated that the reason he usually drives is because it takes less time, which is true. He never brought class into the discussion, he was talking about trip times. He did say that he can afford to own a car. So can I. Does that mean I am saying that public transit is only for the old, poor, homeless, and the mexicans? No.

    You are misrepresenting his position, and you should be ashamed of yourself.

  • Regarding the priorities of the L.A. Times:

    They are currently paying staff members to provide content for 5 sports blogs (one on the Dodgers, one on the Lakers, one on high school sports, one on the preparation for the 2010 Olympics, one on general L.A. sports) and 10 “entertainment” blogs (one devoted entirely to celebrity gossip, one about comic books,one completely dedicated to a single television show (American Idol), one about Las Vegas (in an L.A. paper?), etc.).

    In most cases, each of those 15 blogs has a different staff member assigned to it.

    Yet they just can’t seem to figure out how to keep paying their sole traffic/transportation writer or support the one blog (bottleneck) that covers traffic issues? In the most traffic-congested city in the nation? Really? Having multiple celebrity gossip reporters and their blogs is more important than an issue that affects all angelnos lives daily?

    People do not read the L.A. Times for insights on Lindsay Lohan’s nocturnal activities. For that, they can go to TMZ, Perez Hilton, the E channel, or any number of other garbage-sellers. A newspaper of the L.A. Times’ reputation should provide comprehensive coverage on one of the most important LOCAL issues of this city: traffic/transportation.

    With priorities like these, I wouldn’t be surprised if the Times goes under in less than 5 years. And we will know that they can’t just blame it on the internet; they made some really dumb priority decisions as well.

  • Tom Rorb

    Not buying the Times anymore.

  • Spokker

    The Times finally broke its Hymon and now it’s ruined.

  • C. Phylis

    Oh Dave your emotionally charged pixie squeals are becoming more annoying by the day. I’ll try and keep this one short.

    Steve played the class card by bringing up the fact that his sorry ass was too lazy to ride the train because he had enough money to own a car…..implying that people who usually don’t have enough money to own a car ride PT. This in reality may or may not be true but unfortunately we are then led to a couple of questions from that pretty arrogant statement.

    1)Was Steve Hymon who must be aware of the class/race stigma and transit in LA and the rest of the country just using a bit of insensitivity to get himself out of not looking like a hypocrite who covers transit but rarely takes it? Ironically a beef he had with the so-called powers “that be” who he regularly cast in a hypocritical light because they would sit on boards and make decisions that effected transit but rarely or never took transit themselves. Looks as though in reality he was more or less one of them.

    2)Or is he just plain stupid? I’ll take the former. Oh yeah, the lie that he so obviously told that I and others exposed about the Gold Line taking 45 minutes (presumably during rush) and Mr. Steve (I like to lie) Hymen getting from the Civic Center up the 110 (DURING RUSH) down the we’re assuming 210 (DURING RUSH) in about 25 minutes to his front door………….

    (Since this transpo reporter cited the full length run of the Gold Line which is just over 30 minutes he must live somewhere close to its last stop which is Sierra Madre. In a car you most likely would have to take 2 freeways the 110 and the 210 to approximate this location. Has anyone been on either freeway during rush? Not sure but isn’t there some street running sections included in this? And if he was not speaking of rush then why in the world would a transpo writer bring up beating the Gold Line in his car during off peak hours? Isn’t that a given?)

    Anyway, instead of just allowing folks to dissent and criticize David you must “challenge”. Yes I used the mexican and homeless quip to add a bit of color to the reality of what the man was really saying and I aint taking it back! Steve was great to some of you…cool, he was a weasel to me and it’s probably better to have no coverage of transportation than have someone who reports on transpo reinforcing ideas about who takes and rides PT. And don’t say that he was only saying what most people think cuz then I’d have to ask “who do you think are most people?”

    David, the real question is “what has the weasel done for you lately”?

  • Actually, DOOR TO DOOR travel time was 45 minutes. Look, I know where Steve lives. It’s close, but not that close, to a Gold Line station. And the transfer time to the Red Line and walking from Civic Center to Times Mirror Plaza, versus taking a DASH or hoofing it to work, is a wash. From where he lives, you don’t take the 210. You take Huntington Drive, an extremely wide (thank you Pacific Electric), well timed expressway where it is possible to travel at 35-45 mph for miles without hitting a stop light. Much better than the freeway. (Oops, I just gave away an SGV travel secret.)

    God forbid someone cover the 75% of people who DRIVE in Los Angeles. You’re acting like they don’t pay taxes for your transit. Someday, whether because of higher taxes, transit operator strikes, or whatever, people are going to say to transit rider, “go buy a car.” That’s what they did between 1972 and 1980, when four transit measures failed and the longest RTD bus strike happened (in 1974). The public said F-U to rail and to bus drivers, and it took the fare cuts of the 80’s to arrest the ridership decline.

  • What did steve do for me? He provided traffic/transportation-related content on the bottleneck blog. Now we’ve lost that. You’re not going to convince me that is a good thing.

    C.Phyllis, is it really that hard to believe that Steve’s commute is faster in a car than on the Gold line? For some of your post you sound like you don’t believe the times he was quoting (he was quoting his door-to-door times, not duration on the gold line), and then for another part you act like it is a given that his drive would take less time than using transit. So which is it? Do you think he was exagerating the PT time, or do you think his statement about the PT time being longer was too obvious for him to mention? You can’t claim both at the same time.

    And yes. When someone makes a blatantly false statement, I do challenge them to support that statement. You claimed he said something he didn’t. That’s not “criticizing”, that’s just making stuff up. You and fallopia have read SO much into a simple and realistic statement that steve made: the fact that unless gas prices are very high its simply not worth the extra time for most people to take PT. Just for him making a true statement, now in your eyes he is a racist, classist, arrogant person.

    Whatever, I realize there’s no convincing you on this and I’ll stop wasting time trying to talk some sense into the senseless.

  • C. Phylis

    Steve’s commute is not faster in a car David during rush than the Gold Line. And we can’t compare apples to oranges here, if he takes a traditional freeway route home he will not beat the Gold Line during rush, no way no how. If he is taking a bunch of alternative routes then he is deliberatley attempting to put transit at a disadvantage to cover his ass from looking like a hypocrite that writes and reports about transit but never steps foot on a bus or train. Ironically the same shit he would rake the pols over hot coals about who make transit decisions for the rest of us. And please don’t come back with that spineless shit about him not making decisions therefore……..he was the face for many people who may not regularly ride transit but who read about it. And the most responsible thing that he could do was to convince folks to stay in their cars because he claimed that he could get from his door in Pasadena to his office in 25 minutes at ANYTIME in the day while the Gold Line took nearly twice as long. Talk about irresponsible reporting. Steve Hymon is and was a liar.

  • Fallopia Simms

    Amen! Glad to see him go.

  • He stated in that same interview that he uses transit a lot to get around town for work, but not necessarily for his daily commute from home to work. But I guess you didn’t read the whole interview because you seem to be neglecting it. Here, let me make it easier for you, because I know that actually looking at the evidence to support your claims is apparently too inconvenient for your development of a ridiculous caricature.

    From the interview:
    ” I take the Gold Line occasionally, but I’ll be quite honest. I find it a lot faster to drive. I do take mass transit a lot, but typically during work hours for work purposes. Every couple of weeks I do try and hop on the Gold Line.”

    So he uses transit for getting around town to do his reporting, but typically drives between work and home because it’s faster. In your eyes that makes him a “liar” and a hypocrite.

    As for your statement:
    “If he is taking a bunch of alternative routes then he is deliberatley attempting to put transit at a disadvantage to cover his ass from looking like a hypocrite that writes and reports about transit but never steps foot on a bus or train. ”

    Seriously? So, it’s not that you don’t think he can’t make his commute faster in a car, even at rush hour. It’s just that you disapprove of the fact that he’s found some great route that maybe avoids the freeway in order to avoid traffic jams. So if someone finds and drives the quickest way to get between their home and their work, that’s not them being efficient and saving themselves time, that’s them “deliberately attempting to put transit at a disadvantage”? You have a pretty warped worldview. So anyone who finds the quickest way to get between two points and uses it is in fact being conniving and malicious against the institution of public transit. You’ve already admitted that transit is almost always slower than driving, and that’s really all that Steve said, so you’re calling him a liar and a hypocrite for saying something you yourself have admitted is true. That leads me to conclude that there is some other reason you have an axe to grind with steve, because the reasons your providing don’t make any sense. Maybe he was a jerk to you at some point or you’ve had some other run-in with him, I dunno.

    As for your statement: “Steve’s commute is not faster in a car David during rush than the Gold Line.”

    Oh, and you know that because. . . ? Can you tell me exactly how long MY daily commute is? How about if I tell you that you’re doing YOUR daily commute wrong, because I clearly must know how long it takes you to do your commute much better than the person who actually MAKES that commute daily. Calwatch says the time he quoted is reasonable, and gave an explanation as to how Steve could make that commute in less time. Sounded reasonable enough to me.

    Steve told us how long is commute takes. You call him a liar. Alright then, prove it. If you’re going to say that he lied, go ahead and support your statement. So far you’ve claimed he’s said things he didn’t, and called him a liar without supporting that statement. That makes YOU the liar, not him.

    I’ll go ahead and go out on a limb and say that I aren’t that many routes in Los Angeles where driving is NOT faster than taking transit, even during rush hour. Not saying they don’t exist, but I’m betting they are pretty rare. Maybe trying to get from Downtown to NoHo at 5 pm, if your origin and destination are very close to redline stops. But otherwise, the light rails and buses can’t compete time-wise. Example: I commute from Sherman Oaks to Long Beach once a week. Using the orange/red/blue lines, it takes just under 2 hours every time. Doing it on the 405 freeway takes 40 minutes without traffic, and has never taken me longer than 1 hr 45 minutes at rush hour in full traffic. Unless you live right next to a redline stop, and work right next to a redline stop, the door-to-door times just aren’t going to compete.

    Now that’s obviously not the only reason to take transit, there’s the whole monetary cost as well and the intangibles of not having to sit in traffic while being occupied with driving, which is one of the main reasons I do it. But to resort to calling Steve a liar, a racist, and a hypocrite, which you have done several times in this thread and the other one, simply because he made a true statement about door-to-door trip times is insane.

  • Actually, for Steve, it would be better for him just to take the damned 485 bus and he could get there faster, door to door. The problem is that the 485 has a 20% chance of showing up EARLY. Until MTA puts the GPS for all of their buses up on the net (just like San Francisco, Seattle, Portland), the system is not that usable for choice riders.

  • J in Pasadena

    Steve was (is?) a great reporter who seemed to give column inches to the many controversies surrounding local and regional transportation. That was invaluable to Los Angeles. He should not have been let go, but probably his salary was too good since he has a Masters from UCLA. The tragedy of the LA Times was the betrayal by the Chandler clan and Times-Mirror to whore itself out to corrupt Windy city media. Then when Geffen wanted to buy it the jerk, corrupt idiot Sam Zell refused to let him have a piece. Zell was more interested in implementing his devilish little scheme to turn the Tribune-Times into a bastard real estate trust. As we all know it didn’t work out, and he carelessly bankrupted the company and the newspapers.

    Spokker: That’s the first truly insightful thing I think I’ve seen you write.

    Kym: Thanks for supporting Steve. Your comments were meaningful.

    Phylis: You are by all measures a social retard. Quite offensively you read your own twisted thoughts between the lines of others and then attribute them wrongly. Steve has the same right to drive his car as you have to stumble aimlessly through life. We need more automotive reporting in this city, by the way. The only true solution to the congestion is a comprehensive transportation plan.

    Let’s not eulogize Steve or the Times, let’s move forward and make things better.

  • Spokker

    “Spokker: That’s the first truly insightful thing I think I’ve seen you write.”

    Hey, f’ you too :)

    Agreed with you on Phylis, though. I wish I had said it!


    Hopefully Metro lays off that jackass Steve Hymon. He’s terrible writer and should NOT be in charge of the source. Hes ruining it for all of us.  Metro should NOT have created the source in the first place.


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