2010 Will Be a Busy Year for Transit Advocates in Los Angeles

1_21_10_eastside.jpgExpect to see some hard hats along the Expo Line as other transit projects move through the study phase.  Photo: LA Streetsblog/Flickr

While our headlines and calendar sections are full of news and meetings about transit cuts happening all over the map of L.A. County, thanks to the passage of Measure R, there’s also going to be a lot of meetings about expansion. While I’m not saying that advocates shouldn’t fight to protect their favorite bus lines, be they Metro, DASH, or Big Blue Bus, sometimes it’s nice to remember that things aren’t all bad.

Of course, while finalizing studies are nice, the highlight of the year will most likely be the opening of Phase I of the Expo Line sometime this summer, or perhaps this fall if we follow the Gold Line’s Eastside Extension’s schedule.  Of course, its not just the opening that people are looking forward to, but the Expo Line Safety Ride sponsored by Streetsblog in a similar manner to what we did with the Eastside Extension.  It could be worth it just to see if I can get Damien Goodmon to join us on a bicycle.

As for Phase II, certification of the Final Environmental Impact Statement is expected this winter, and construction could begin as early as this summer.  Of course, the FEIR includes provisions about a bike path, so don’t think you’re getting the year off cycling advocates.

In South L.A., we can expect a Final Environmental Impact Statement for the Crenshaw Line, but of course there’s some controversy. Once Metro chose rail over Bus Rapid Transit for the corridor, only part of the controversy was solved. Some local activists are pushing for more stops and track to run below grade than is currently called for in the plans, but Supervisor/Metro Board Member Mark Ridley-Thomas has insured that the costs and advantages of "at grade" versus "below grade" are studied in the environmental documents.

On the Eastside, planning to extend the Gold Line Eastside Extension farther east will begin their environmental reviews. Expect the ridership numbers of the current extension to be bandied about as advocates for the second extension battle a preception that ridership estimates don’t justify the costs.

Advocates and opponents for the Westside Extension and Regional Connector will get updates on the projects in the Spring. One of the big questions that remains for the Connector is whether or not the new "Little Tokyo Friendly" alignment is selected or if the strong community opposition to the project continues.  Rumor is that the finalized studies might have to wait until 2011, due in part to the Metro Board’s inability to pass the 2008 Long Range Transportation Plan until the 2010 fiscal year. However, with some luck both projects could finish their environmental review this year.

April could also see the release of draft documents for the Wilshire Bus Rapid Transit studies. Because the project is somewhat smaller than the rail projects, the studies could actually be completed this summer. Just because visitors from other towns already love Metro’s Rapid Buses along the corridor doesn’t mean they couldn’t use an upgrade. And remember, cyclists, those bus only lanes are "bike ok."

While it may seem like Metro is waiting to pounce with a full docket of meetings in April and October, they are expecting to get working on the Draft Environmental Documents for the Harbor Subdivision Transit Corridor sometime earlier this Spring.

As for the controversial Gold Line Foothill Extension, one consultant for the project joked to me that "they are selling shovels at OSH" to get the project underway. While I of course encourage you to stay tuned to Streetsblog for updates on all of these projects, I can’t compete with I Will Ride on coverage of the Foothill Extension.

Needless to say, April will be transit meeting hell, or heaven depending your point of view, with a likely to repeat in October.

  • Matt

    I think it is getting to be common knowledge that Expo Phase I will not open until 2011 unfortunately. I am curious if anything concrete came out of your recommendations on safety for the Eastside Gold Extension?

  • I would like to know from people who are living exclusively car free (and are employed) how they feel about the “it’s not that bad” line of thinking.

    In general I have never known a person who is carFREE in the real sense meaning no girlfriend, wife, husband, boyfriend or someone else in the household with a car that thinks public transit in LA doesn’t have some major issues.

    In general I feel a bit like public transit riders in LA are slighted.

    Are bike lanes safe? Is LADOT work in regards to bicycles satisfactory? Do cops prosecute harshly enough in regards to cyclist that get run of the road?

    The answer to all three of those questions are no, no, and HELL NO.

    But yet if in alt transit people who are car free complain about the dangerous, nasty, unsafe streets but walk or take the bus we’re viewed it seems as complainers.

    What is up with the double standard? I’m not talking about just this blog in particular, but in general, what’s up with bus riders, train riders who are carfree not being taken seriously?

    I read a blog post on zen and the bus from a guy who I know just got a car, I mean come on, the bus is super rad if you can get in your car if you want.

    Is it because of the demographics. Women ride public transit in slightly higher numbers then men? Is that it? I don’t know. I’m just at a lost here trying to figure out why bringing up issues about the bus is viewed as bs, but bringing up issues about biycles is viewed as critical analysis. What’s the difference?

    I just feel like when bus riders say something we’re complaining and whining when cyclists say something they are advocating.

    I support cyclists. I totally feel everything you guys say in regards to your issues, but for some reason it doesn’t seem like people who bring up real issues for working people who take the bus aren’t taken as seriously in Los Angeles.

    I have this one question to people who feel that public transit is ok and not that bad. If you were going to dinner in downtown LA 5pm -8pm, relatively early would you take your three year old on the bus or train?

    My second question is would you take your three year old on a bike ride?

    And to me that’s the question. If you don’t feel ok with your child on a form of transit that’s not that bad, then can you honestly say it’s not that bad.

    The only kid in alt transit that I’ve seen on the bus is Bus Chicklet (Bus Chick out of Seattle’s kid) that’s the only one and never have I seen a guy in pictures with his kid bragging about the bus experience in LA.

    And you know what Newton you always want to get Goodmon on a bike, like he doesn’t understand. Goodmon is carFREE he understands.

    I would like to offer to take you on bus ride through LA. I would like to offer you a ride in the areas of town that have the highest ridership, not around the Red Line or the Gold Line around Pasadena, but the higest traffic routes in the areas with highest transit maybe from the Eastside to the Southside a way many people go. I would like you to accompany me on this trip and write about it. I’ll bet you ten bucks you will never say or type again “it’s not that bad.”


  • DJB

    @ Browne

    I think the quality of transit service in LA varies widely. In some neighborhoods (Downtown, K-town) it’s really good, meaning high frequency service. In other neighborhoods the service frequency sucks, there aren’t rapid lines, there aren’t rail lines, etc. The City of LA sucks at maintaining it’s pavement, which screws up the ride a lot. Vandalism is a big problem on a lot of buses I see, as is the lack of bus shelters.

    I think the car-free thing is divisive. You can own a car and still care about transit. I do.

  • Well, to talk of public transit in LA has some major issues isn’t a shocking revelation. Operating a system in a dense urban environment is challenging (to borrow a Metro-speak word), and especially to do so under a dysfunctional governance structure and in a culture that sees folks who get around the area on the bus as the exception to the rule.

    It gets back to my old observation about one of the great challenges are perceptions. Conventional wisdom isn’t always based on reality but when something is based on “well, of course everyone knows…” it is hard to refute.

    More than once I have been at some policy conclave where a speaker asks how many in the audience got there on the bus. Me and maybe 2-3 people raise our hands. Which plays into the perception that no one or very few folks ride the bus. Even though Metro is one of the largest agencies in the U.S.

    You’ll hear folks cite statistics that 1% of all trips are done on transit. Which is mis-leading since it counts all trips (like at 2 a.m. to get milk at the local 7-11). When you look at peak hour commutes to downtown L.A. transit carries something like 10% of trips.

    I know Browne has quite rightly complained about transit agencies holding meetings without giving information on how to get to the site via transit. Frankly for years Kymberleigh Richards and I have bugged Metro why do they give car directions to meetings but often nothing about transit. I remember one Sierra Club member lamenting in the Bay Area all Club events always give transit and biking directions but the Angeles Chapter here rarely does so. If nothing else, the symbolism is telling.

    Maybe the difference in re bike advocacy is the culture at large doesn’t see it as totally out of the realm of possibility that at some point they might (even just for recreation on weekends) ride a bike, but of course other than for a special event don’t think they have any need to use the bus. It may be partly why our emerging rail system has made a difference in terms of perception because the public at large sees the train as a viable option in a way they never would the bus. That probably played a role in how Measure M was sold and how it got a (albeit slender) winning margin.

    Actually the routes with the highest ridership are in the westside and mid-city, although fed by riders coming from south and east (Venice, Wilshire, Vermont, Santa Monica Bl., Fairfax, Western).

    We do face some scary times ahead but nothing like what our friends in Orange County are going through. That is a true horror.

  • Browne,

    I’m really confused as to what part of this post brought on that comment. There’s times that you take me to task, and I get it. This time, I don’t.

  • DJB

    Nobody is really car free if you think about it. Unless you don’t buy anything in a store that was shipped there by truck (meaning you grow all of your own food in the middle of LA somehow, and don’t buy anything else). Virtually everybody lives in a structure that was built with the help of motor vehicles.

    Nobody is untainted :) The issue is how to be LESS dependent on private motor vehicles.

  • I formally rode the bus to Cal State Fullerton but they cut off the route so now it doesn’t go to the school anymore. I recently fixed up my car ($600 of money I don’t have) and bought a parking pass (another obscene amount) so now I’m ready to tear up that 57 (freeway, not bus) on my way to class.

    I have also installed spikes on my car to look more intimidating when looking for a parking spot in the morning. It’s road warrior stuff out there.

  • “While I’m not saying that advocates shouldn’t fight to protect their favorite bus lines, be they Metro, DASH, or Big Blue Bus, sometimes it’s nice to remember that things aren’t all bad.” Newton

    I am not trying to be disrespectful, but that bothered me alot. I go to South LA three times a week. I take the bus in South LA and it is horrible and I’m not talking about just for myself. I’m saying it’s raining, it’s windy, it’s cold and dark and I have to watch people stand at the corner with their little babies waiting for a bus that might or might not show up.

    The potential cuts for differently abled riders that Ed brought up in regards to Citiride (I’m listening Ed.)

    It is bad for transit users. It is bad for people who can’t afford to live around the Red Line, the Gold Line or Hollywood.

    It is that bad for people who have to take the bus from South LA or SFV. Places where there are 30 minute waits, no bus shelters and what it seems like miles to the next bus stop.

    Maybe I read too much into that, but it just seemed very flippant. No maybe I’m not being fair I should have taken in the whole piece, but do you know how cold it is outside right now?

    I was outside in the rain yesterday waiting for a bus for 30 minutes that didn’t come, why? I sat there in the rain and wind with a mom and her kid in a stroller. I had to help the mom and help her stand in front of the baby so she wouldn’t get drenched. And got put on hold for 15 minutes by passenger’s relations.

    There are people who don’t have cars and have to go to work and they work places that are far.

    And it’s not about purity, it’s about being real. If you have a car fine whatever that’s cool, but listen to the people who don’t. Listen to them in serious way not in a I’ve got to take it all in, fine take it all in, but take people who don’t have a car a bit more seriously.

    If you have a car you don’t get what it’s like in LA without one. Your view is not a real view. You don’t get it. You don’t understand how it is to transport your two year old to day care, get to your job and get back on the bus and do it again everyday. You don’t know what is like to get groceries. You don’t know what it’s like to take your dog to the vet on public transit. You don’t know what it’s like to get a job after six months of looking, only to have to turn it down because the bus can’t get you there and you physically can not bike 30 miles.

    It is that bad in LA without a car for people who can’t afford to live somewhere nice.

    Don’t think I hate taking the bus, I don’t. It’s fun for me, seriouly I know it’s weird, it’s fun for me, but it’s novel. If it got too bad I would just get in my car, but some people don’t have that option and I’m not going to tell them it’s not all bad or that bad or it’s ok, because it’s not. Public transit the way it is in LA is not that good and probably because only 2% of the people who work at METRO take the METRO. That is appalling. That is absolute bullshit.


  • Browne, in response to your earlier post:

    I live just about car-free, and sometimes (off-peak hours) it can be quite sublime. Most of the time, riding a bike every day can really get you down if you let the psychos blasting by in cars get to you. The anger and fear that riding in my neighborhood imparts on me keeps my activism fed.

    There is a strange balance, when the business day has not yet begun or is definitely over, that the world is sort of quiet and there is room for me to be happy riding in the streets. Then, sometimes (during regular working hours), I am literally in fear of my own life because of some insanity foisted upon me by the poor design of the street for exclusive car-only access.

  • Public transit in Los Angeles is not that good, compared to New York, Philadelphia, DC proper, San Francisco (SF and Alameda County), or Seattle. It is better than a lot of other places in the country though, and is probably better than average with the top 50 cities, recognizing that you have places like Tampa, Nashville, Atlanta, etc. with real duds of a transit system. Could it be better? Absolutely. But in terms of coverage and (scheduled) levels of service, LA is doing better than the average major American city. After all, buses don’t run most of the Atlanta metro area, only the core counties (Fulton and DeKalb) and a few commute routes in the collar counties. Tampa and St. Petersburg have no transit connecting them on weekends. San Diego is slashing Sunday service to unrecognizable levels.

    Damien is right – there is more transit being built here in that almost anywhere else in the country, because of the 1.4% sales tax that goes for transit in LA County. (Proposition A, Proposition C, Measure R, and TDA, minus the amount in Proposition C that goes for “transitways”, aka carpool lanes, and Measure R local return, which most cities are using to repave streets.) No other county in the state has that. Even places like Dallas, where DART charges 1%, haven’t done as much for transit.

    For starters, MTA’s goal of having 70% of buses on time is ridiculously low, and many months they don’t even meet that. Most employers would fire someone quickly if they left early or arrived late 30% of the time. Yet MTA’s discipline system doesn’t identify drivers who arrive early and fire them using the data collected every minute on ATMS. Unfortunately, there’s not much you can do about late buses, because of traffic road conditions, passengers, etc. Art Leahy is trying to improve service, although adding timepoints to Metro Rapid isn’t going to completely fix the problem. However, when I advocate firing drivers who aren’t following basic directions, I often get accused of taking it out on them. Public sector protections are great but sometimes, in a service business, you have to start acting like the service employees who ride your service, who will get fired if they are 10 minutes late to work even once a week.

  • I think public transit in Southern California is as good as it could be at this point in time.

    It cannot compete with New York, its framework built before automobile ownership became near universal.

    It cannot compete with Washington DC, whose proximity to our nation’s capital makes it a prime target for funding that enables full grade separation and high speeds.

    It cannot compete with Seattle, which is far less impoverished than LA (11.8% under the poverty line vs. 22.1%). Transit is also basic mobility for the poor, and lord knows we have a lot of poor people (myself included) who must be served at low cost or watch out. Stick your head in the sand, fund their service with massive subsidies and hope they go away.

    I feel that people expect too much from bus service and even rail service. The “choice” riders bitch because the bus or train won’t pick them up from their house and take them to their job. The transit dependent bitch every time there is a fare increase and then have the gall to complain about the lack of late night buses.

    When 70% of the fare is paid for by somebody else, how can transit ever be successful? If we expect drivers to pay more, we should also expect transit riders to pay more if they want good service.

  • There is no incentive for Metro to treat riders kindly. The bulk of their funding doesn’t come from riders. If riders advocated for higher farebox recovery ratios, I think service would improve.

    The riders who can pay will pay. Those who truly require assistance can qualify for discount passes based on income (these should be temporary passes with time limits for how long you can stay in the program). As always there should be discount passes for seniors and the disabled.

  • To me the vast difference in service between South LA where people ride the bus in great numbers and the Metro or Hollywood section of LA just bothers me in an extreme way that I can’t really put into words without cursing alot.

    There is no way that service (and this beyond graffiti and vandalism) in two sections of town should be that different. It’s like going to another country. When I lived in Los Feliz and had clients in the Westside the bus was awesome, the Red Line was awesome. When I moved to Lincoln Heights and felt it was my duty to pick up more economically challenged (poorer) clients, because thank the Universe that I have enough I need to give back to people and I started having to go to South LA I was shocked. Appalled. Appalled at the no bus stops, isolated bus stops, dark bus stops, late busses, busses that just didn’t show up.

    I’m very personable in person, if I want to be. I asked a driver what was up with a bus just not showing up in South LA and this person told me that some times if they are running late drivers will just start mid route skipping half of South LA, because they can. And I know that’s not a rarity.

    And I was so angry at this person, because they laughed when they said it, but I also knew that there aren’t enough busses in that area and drivers get busted for being late, so are you going to be late if you have to choose a section to be late on or are you going to be late in South LA where people don’t have fancy phones and don’t Twitter and FB and Foursquare and have blogs or are you going to be late in Hollywood where people will do that and report you…

    It’s a fight for resources I understand, but it doesn’t make it right, but I’m not one to make it about the little people, but there is something fundamentally wrong with a system like that. That forces people to make those kinds of decisions.


  • “Appalled at the no bus stops, isolated bus stops, dark bus stops, late busses, busses that just didn’t show up” describes breakdowns in existing systems not some sort of systemic shortchanging of resource allocation.

    The councilmembers in South L.A. essentially call the shots regarding bus stops in their districts. The existing street furniture program is a glaring example of horrifyingly dysfunctional L.A. city government and the dominance of insider influence but if the electeds were to dictate that they desired improvements to the conditions you describe it would happen. For whatever reason the office holders there don’t feel a need to lift a finger to address the conditions.

    As for bus service problems like skipping stops, miss-outs, etc. it is a systemwide problem. I have buses on Wilshire skip past me–just happened last week. There have been times where no local bus showed up for over 30 minutes, ditto the 720. If service issues are as endemic in South L.A. as you claim, why not call the office of the South Bay sector (which oversees Metro Division 5) and complain? I think General Manager Dana Coffey would welcome the input.

    Contact information is listed on the SO.CA.TA service sector information page:

  • I find the same thing in the San Fernando Valley. It’s any section of LA that is not in the Metro section of LA where I find problems really.

    And it’s not about a council person or a person there is a real disconnect between the city and public transit.

    The problem is Metro is run by people who don’t ride it and never have. Even if Metro was funded fully the people running it would just build parking lots, because they have no idea how the bus system actually runs in LA.

    Why is service so great out of downtown, before the whole loft thing who lived in downtown? Who even worked there. The center of LA is the metro section of LA. The best service if you want to pick the true center of LA should be located around K-Town. That’s the heart of LA. You should be able to get anywhere you want out of K-Town, but for some reason downtown is the spot. You can get almost anywhere out of downtown LA, but the problems is this isn’t NY and our downtown is only a downtown in name it’s not “downtown”.

    And I thought the bus stop were owned by CBS/Decaux. The reason there are no bus shelter I would think in South LA, because the shelter in LA for transit has the primary purpose of selling ads for products instead of shelter. The ad men feel there is no money to be made in South LA. The street furniture is private right? I think that also needs to stop. Metro needs to run and maintain their bus stops, furniture and all.

    In Compton there are bus benches and shelter, it’s South LA where there’s not and I’m thinking that’s probably why. CBS/Decaux has exclusive right’s to street furniture in the City of LA proper.


  • David Galvan


    I admire very much your choice of lifestyle, and would consider trying to live a lifestyle where I could do most of my errands and such on a bicycle.

    That said, I have a real question for you, which I’ll preface with this: I noted from pics you’ve posted in the past that you somewhat-recently had a baby. In my idyllic world, I’d love to live in an area where I would feel comfortable riding my bicycle with my (due in just a few months) baby on board with me. And there are some residential streets in my area where I would feel legitimately safe doing that. But in my experience, if you want to get “there” from “here” on a bike you will at some point have to ride on some roads that are just not ideal for cycling (sepulveda, Van Nuys, Ventura Blvd in the area around Sherman Oaks, for example). Roads that are typically packed with busy traffic, where taking a lane might be the safest choice, but given the amount of traffic hold-up one would cause and the annoyed drivers one could create, it wouldn’t be ideal. I’ve been in some near-misses where drivers crowded me too closely, didn’t see me coming when making a turn at an intersection, etc. You know the hazards as well as anybody. While I feel agile and confident enough to navigate these hazards with just myself on the bike, as a soon-to-be-father, I am wary about putting my child at risk by having him on the bike with me. A collision with a car could result in serious injury or death to me and my child if we are on a bicycle, where a similar collision could result in far less severe injury if were were in a car during the same collision. Also, even without a child on my bike, as a soon-to-be father I now realize that I need to be more responsible with my own life, as getting injured or killed won’t just affect me but those dependent on me.

    With that preface aside: How often and under what circumstances are you willing to ride with your child onboard your bike? Do you have any tips/suggestions along those lines for someone like me who is hoping to keep cycling as part of my lifestyle when I have a baby? (I’m not trying to get rid of my car, and will probably end up driving with the kid in the center in a secure car seat a lot of the time, but for short trips I’d like to hear how you do it.)

  • The problem for the San Fernando Valley is it is mostly low density suburban and therefore generally very low ridership potential. People bitch about infrequent headways but when the RTD had the grid experiment with 15 minute service back in the 70s it mostly resulted in empty buses.

    “The problem is Metro is run by people who don’t ride it and never have. Even if Metro was funded fully the people running it would just build parking lots, because they have no idea how the bus system actually runs in LA.”

    I can’t really disagree that there is a lot of truth in what you say. TAP certainly is a product of people with no real world knowledge about the needs of transit users. Art Leahy a while back had some of his administrative staff get behind the wheel to learn what being a bus operator is like. Maybe he should send a few out to do some riding.

    Downtown has historically (back to the days of the Red Car) been the juncture point for the transit services of our region. It is centrally located and a strong destination. I just wish the Patsouras Plaza had been better designed and located to serve as a hub. What a sad use of precious federal capital earmark funds.

    CBS/Decaux has a franchise for street furniture with the city of Los Angeles. But the council persons really call the shots as to shelters, etc. in their districts. Yeah the ad potential of sites seems to influence what happens but council members can force the issue IF THEY WANT TO. And for whatever reason they don’t seem to feel a need to do so. And like I said before this whole situation is insider influence at its worse. Street furniture stinks to high heaven and denouncing it is warrented

    The cities I think would be very resistent to having Metro assume control of stops. My mind boggles at what trying to do something about that would entail–an MOU, state legislation, special district? Given the politics and screwed up relations of the various levels of governances herein it just doesn’t look to be in the cards–probably ever.

  • DJB

    TAP is almost a really good thing. It’s great if you only use Metro transit and put passes on it. It sucks if you just want to use it as a fare debit card, or on most other transit systems (you can’t!*).

    It’s so much better in New York City. You can buy the card at any subway station, it can be used as a pass or to debit money, and it works in the WHOLE CITY, trains and buses!

    Why is that so hard?

    * Rumor has it you can do the debit thing at certain stations, but since most people don’t know about that, it’s just as good as not existing.

  • Another problem with TAP and this “fake” automated system is the fact that if you don’t have cash and you get on an express, but you only have a credit card you have no option if the bus driver want’s to take his/her job of fares really seriously.

    I am almost sure you can’t buy one zone to add to your tap card for one time use and you can’t buy one time zones at the tap machine. And I’m not sure what is up with that GLARING problem.

    I’ve always wondered about it, but I’m always pleasant to the drivers, so I’m never questioned or they wave me by if I do have cash. I don’t want to scam the system, but I rarely carry cash. I’ve even asked customer service what do I do and there is nothing you can do.

    You can’t buy a one way at the ticket station and give that on top of the tap and I’m like why? It’s paid with the same money, it’s the same thing…Metro would actually get five cents more if they allowed that option.

    If you have a montly pass you can’t add a zone for a one time use. That just seems like madness. With commuter busses many people transfer from the rail so why isn’t there a credit card/ automated solution?

    Who carries one dollar bills on them? If you have a tap card you don’t need to. Maybe they could add a change machine or a cash machine near the ticket machines…


  • I think people in San Fernando would use transit if they didn’t have to walk in the heat for miles and miles with nothing but apartment buildings as scenery and bus stops with no benches or shelters.

    You take the bus one time in the SFV and you start thinking the 405 is heaven. If Metro made it work people would use transit out there, because the commute to the Valley and back is not a fun commute.


  • browne, I thought you had no interest in improving service, just pointing and laughing, as you stated on your blog?

    When people complain about stuff, I usually assume that at some level they want to see things improve. A lot of people here write letters, attend meetings, provide public input, etc. I know you think those things are gay and that transit advocates are pathetic, but I think it’s far more productive than anything you have to say.

    Based on your posts you seem to have a really bad victim complex.

    “I think people in San Fernando would use transit if they didn’t have to walk in the heat for miles and miles

    If Metro made it work people would use transit out there”

    Clearly Metro should erect a giant barrier to block out the sun.

  • Below is a link to an obscure Metro staff report Kymberleigh Richards first brought to my attention that is posted on the SO.CA.TA website and even though a few years old still gives some important/useful info in re bus shelters in the San Fernando Valley.

    Note the whole possessory use tax issue with the County. You’d think with the Supervisors sitting on Metro’s Board that one of them would use their influence to get the bureaucratic logjam resolved but such hasn’t been the case. So having them on the Metro Board doesn’t appear to be of any use to the agency. Makes me again shake my head at the legislature foisting upon us this collection of electeds as the Metro Board, which seems mostly about keeping power elites happy instead of doing anything to benefit transportation. The serious and significant real world issues that Browne
    raises seem to fall between the cracks as a consequence. Lord knows I have made a ruckus from time to time about the status quo but seemingly it is intractable. I think many of us from time to time have a desire from frustration to indulge in “cursing alot.”


  • I wanted to wait until I had enough time to write a full response before I typed anything. At first I wasn’t sure what was going on in the post, now I get it.

    Browne thought I was telling bus riders, on the coldest and wettest week of the year, just after cuts were announced, that eh, things aren’t all bad. Yeah, I see how that could be awfully condescending, but that wasn’t what I was saying, or trying to say. I was talking to those people Spokker talked about in his last comment that are gearing up testimonies to fight bus cuts that hey, there’s going to be some good news for you all. This year’s going to see a lot of great expansion projects move forward. That’s going to be cool. But I think you got that point on a second reading.

    “I have this one question to people who feel that public transit is ok and not that bad. If you were going to dinner in downtown LA 5pm -8pm, relatively early would you take your three year old on the bus or train?

    My second question is would you take your three year old on a bike ride?”

    No and yes. I’ve been pretty clear that I found the bus experience in L.A. so miserable that I ditched it for the bike which was just as fast, great exercise and blah blah blah bikes rock. I hope Sammy is ready for longer rides when he’s three, but if not he’ll be strapped in the pigeon or on a regular bike seat.

    Now, as I move farther west, I imagine there’s going to be plenty of times that I go back to bussing downtown or I have to get in better shape.

    Yes, I own a car. I don’t drive it that often, as a matter of fact until I lent it to my Mom this week, it hadn’t had it’s gas tank filled since the kid has been born. I wish I was comfortable enough with our transportation system to get rid of it completely, but I’m not there. I don’t think that’s hypocritical, after all I don’t think it’s hypocritical for the BRU to ride the train to meetings either, because I rarely demonize people for choosing to drive. For not paying attention and “accidentally” killing someone yes. For living so far from where you work that you drive tens of thousands of miles every year…yes. But just having the car? No.

    If the government supported all of the policies that we advocate for on Streetsblog, I would be car free. But I’m under no illusion that system exists now.

    I don’t want to get DG on a bike because I think he doesn’t get it, I’d like him to do it because it would be fun. I feel like I’m constantly forced to say this, like people don’t believe me or think I’m being diplomatic, but I like DG and find him to be a valuable part of this community.

    I think cuts to bus service and fare hikes suck. I’m not an expert on each individual line, and I’m sure there’s places that could be made more efficient, but they suck. Without a good bus system, the rest of the transportation system really suffers, because buses feed into everything. I hate the DASH cuts, hate the BBB cuts, hate the OCTA cuts. But I try not to write posts that say “I think this sucks” unless I have personal experience with the issue (which I don’t on buses, as I said earlier, I opted out of our bus system). When I do write an opinion post, I usually qualify the hell out of it, as I did with the “Bike Plan Comments” post.

    That being said, I think we could do a great story on a “bus tour” of the most traveled lines. Let’s do it. I’ll email you next week.

  • Spokker I said the point of my blog is to point and laugh am I at my blog?

    How many transit advocate blogs do we need?

    I’m thinking what I do is a good service for people who are advocates.

    I can go places in regards to truth that people who want to be political can’t go. I don’t want to be friends with Metro. I don’t hate them, but I don’t care. I don’t want to be friends with politicians. I just want to tell the truth. And I don’t want to couch what I say in certain terms, because I want to work with people.

    When you start building relationships with people you can’t just call them a liar if they in fact turn out to be a liar. You can’t call people on their bs if you’ve broke bread with them. Being an advocate has alot to do with breaking bread with people and coffee. It’s how you get things done. You have to compromise.

    I have no desire to do that.

    I’ll support you if you do, but I don’t do that.

    That’s not what I do well. Knowing what you are and are not good at is part of being a grown up.


  • Being without a car is not the tremendous hardship Browne seems to be claiming. I’m completely 100% car-free. I do my grocery shopping, my laundry (I actually have a detailed blog post about going to the laundromat), my everything by bike, bus, or walking. However, he/she is correct that bus service in many areas is sub-par at best, and bus facilities–benches, coverings, etc–can make a person feel unsafe in the most of upscale of neighborhoods. And cuts to service (as skimpy as it is now) will make something that is merely challenging for car-free families with children into something that is extremely difficult.

    FYI, no, I don’t have kids. I just wanted to chime in that, even when I’m standing in the rain waiting for the bus, I’m not thinking about how terrible my situation is and why can’t I have a car.

  • I don’t have kids either and I stated above I think taking the bus is fun, but to me I feel that it wouldn’t be right for me to use me as an example of the average person. The average person has kids, the average woman my age has kids and I’m going to try the best I can to channel that person’s experience and present here, because they deserve that. If I used me it would be great, but I’m not typical.

    56% of women between the ages of 15-44 are mothers.
    82% of women between 40-44 are mothers.

    Being single and educated allows me the freedom to be mobile. It allows me to even consider being carFREE. I work with people who make considerably less than me and they all have cars, because they have to, because they have babies and apartments in affordable neighborhoods that are long distances away from their places of employment. Having money in an odd way allows me to be carFREE.

    Only 26% of women have a bachelor degree or higher, again me being educated and having a marketable skill puts me at a significant advantage.

    Now I could use me as the measuring stick for the average woman, but that would be doing a disservice not only to women, but to people who actually want to move towards a less car dependent society. We have to tell the truth. We have to tell the truth and sometimes the truth isn’t necessarily something we have experienced personally.


  • (this is long and not edited for spelling nor for grammar)

    David Galvan said:

    “How often and under what circumstances are you willing to ride with your child onboard your bike? Do you have any tips/suggestions along those lines for someone like me who is hoping to keep cycling as part of my lifestyle when I have a baby? (I’m not trying to get rid of my car, and will probably end up driving with the kid in the center in a secure car seat a lot of the time, but for short trips I’d like to hear how you do it.)”

    When your baby is newborn, unless you are on fresh pavement and basically riding at walking speed in a zero traffic zone for God’s sake do not ride the baby in the bike. It is way too bumpy. Stick to strolling, maya wraps, and holding the kid against your body.

    When my daughter hit six months, we were riding all over town. Pasadena, Venice, Rosemead. All over. The longer the ride, the more brutal it will be for the kid, since they are strapped down. I don’t do this to my baby anymore.

    Now that she’s two, I ride with her coloring and singing songs rocking along with the bike and asking questions about stuff we’re passing. We can go anywhere, but I don’t want to do anymore cross-town trips. They are harsh and boring, and guilt inducing when LA throws it’s misery at you via insane car speeds and loud noises. Cruising the neighborhood is simply devine – the “cookie store” (7-eleven), “toffee chop” (coffee shop), “TATOS!” (any taco stand), “hi doggie!” (any dog), and all sorts of other cute stuff. We get a lot of waves and friendly looks too when we’re doing our thing and have integrated into the ‘hood in our own way.

    You will have to ride on arterial roads – I bought my daugher ear muffs (like for a rifle range) to keep the noise from buses (OH MY GOD THESE ARE LOUD!), high speed cars, and trucks from destroying her hearing or waking her up from a nap. The best time to take long rides are right at or before nap time – so the kid can get some sleep while you truck away. The best time to run errands (when you’ll be picking the kid up out of the bike and taking him or her into shops and stores, banks, doctor’s office, MTA meetings, etc. is when the kid is bright and responsive.

    A good cargo bike (like my bakfiets) affords you room for all the crap that an SUV-mom can carry – backup food and clothes, diaper bag, your bag of stuff, toys, umbrella, kipple.

    Is it possible to ride with my duaghter during the middle of rush-hour? Hell yes, and I’ve done it before. Do I like doing it? Hell no, and when I do this it makes me hate (really, HATE) the LADOT for what their policies do to my attempts to lead a peaceful and fun life. more often than not, when I’ve got baby-watching duties for the day, me and the kid set our agenda and the world can just deal with it.

    One day, I was bored, so I took her to 5 parks and we tried out all the playgrounds just to see which ones were more fun. We just scooted around in the cargo bike, stopped right in front of the jungle gym and played like wild animals – then on to the next spot. You can do this in a car – but it would be boring to constantly buckle and unbuckle the kid, park, deal with them crying because the baby is hungry, tired, etc.

    On a bike, I can deal with my daughter immediately 95% of the time. The only times I feel bad are when I know she ought to be somewhere quiet and peaceful and fun, but we’re stuck on L.A.’s roads getting hammered by noise and confusion and malevolent road design.

  • Sorry to continue this, but not ALL of LA’s roads are terrible, and even the terrible ones are actually quite good in off-peak hours.

    It depends on the area, really, and the time of day.

    When I was new to this, I was like “Hell no I’m taking the full lane, suck it, this is my kid not your convenience.” Now, on streets with good sidewalks and super fast traffic (I’m going, tops 12 mph in the street), I actually ride the sidewalk (going vvvvvveeeerrrrrryyyyy ssssllllloooowwwllly – because otherwise it’s dangerous) and use the bike bell with gusto to politely snake our way through the throngs. It depends on the errand we’re running. Sidewalks are good for fun trips, when you’re “working” and the baby is along for the ride the streets are simply the safest option.

    Practice riding in the bike with a bag of cat kibble or bags of potatoes – under load. Try running errands and doing your thing – you’ll soon see how different carrying stuff and riding makes you think and ride. I still do the effective cycling stuff, but I temper it with deliberately recreational moves like super-slow paced sidewalk riding to take in the sights and sounds better.

    In conclusion, even on the big roads it isn’t that bad, yes you can do it (but wait for your baby to be a bit older than 6 months before doing the hard miles, and even then always consider the fragile little rubber-like mini-human you’re bringing along for the ride). If you do it right, your kid will have some very happy memories (and a few bad ones too) of riding in/on the bike with you, and you’ll be happier for getting the exercise and living a better life.

  • Brayj you bring up a very important component in alt transit. When people are telling officials we need safe bike lanes and reliable and safe transit we need to keep in the the most vulnerable members of society. And babies are vulnerable members of society. If LADOT, Metro the city thinks the way alt transit is set up now is ok or fine or whatever then I want to see them take their babies to daycare using alt transit (bike, bus, train, walking,) if they are afraid to do that they need to put some real support into making some real changes.

    We need real choices. We need choices that everyone can participate in. The way it’s set up now woman who are the primary caretakers of children have to drive a car. I would never take my baby (hypothetically speaking of course) on the bus. I wouldn’t feel safe taking my baby on a bike, though I would probably do the bike before the bus owing to the germ thing…but what does that say. That says if you’re a woman and you want to have a decent quality of life you have to drive and that’s not fair.

    The low cycling rate for women is for a reason and a big reason is the childcare issue.

    And I really wish women who work at Metro and have children would be honest about this and stop acting like it’s fine on public transit, because this lying and toeing the company line is hurting other women, poor women, women who lack choices. Say at the meetings the bus is nasty and scary and I wouldn’t put my baby on it. Do that so that someone can fix it.

    If alternatives are only inclusive to the healthy adults who are not primary caregivers then it’s needs to be made better, alot better.

    Places that have true choices in mobility can take their children to the doctor without using a car.


  • At this point I’d be happy with buses that didn’t sound like screaming wild banshees being amplified by a heavy metal band’s PA system. Has anyone else been deafened by the “ScreeeEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!!!!!” of a bus pulling away from a curb or the “PPPPPPSHHHHhhhhhhhh” of some sort of hydraulics kicking in? The buses are insanely loud. Their only competition are huge trucks for noise.

  • Those hydraulic sounds rule!

  • David Galvan

    Great advice Umberto! Thanks a bunch for such a comprehensive and insightful response!

  • cph

    Willowbrook (an unincorporated County area between Watts and Compton. ) hasnice bus shelters, and a contract with ShelterClean to keep them maintained (picked up trash, cleaned up vandalism, etc.)

    Many of the other South/Southeastern cities (other than Los Angeles) have decent bus shelters as well. Huntington Park, Bell, Bell Gardens… The problem with getting bus shelters in any part of the City of Los Angeles is not an MTA issue, it is a LA City Council issue. Go hold their feet to the fire…


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