Metro Westside Subway Talks Take a Different Turn in Santa Monica

Note: If you choose to share your thoughts at the bottom of this article, I would also urge you to “make it count” and put it on the official public record by sending your comments directly to Metro by October 18th 2010.  Instructions on how to comment can be found at the end of the article.

Relishing the fact that evening ocean breezes were taking back the air from the day’s stagnant heat, a packed audience filed into the downtown Santa Monica Public Library auditorium on Wednesday night to review the status of the planned Westside subway extension and to make official public comments on it.

Just two days ago, the prevailing aim of comments at Metro’s subway hearing in Beverly Hills was to slam a proposed route that would tunnel under a residential area, which would occur if a station were built in the heart of Century City at Constellation Boulevard.  By contrast, at Wednesday’s hearing each person who commented on the proposed Century City station supported locating it at Constellation Blvd., citing that location’s improved access to jobs and entertainment, as well as the higher projected ridership.

More broadly, the comments in favor of the Westside subway extension advocated building as much subway west of the 405 Freeway as soon as possible.  Under the current schedule, an extension of the subway would only reach Westwood or the VA in the next 30 years (assuming no 30/10 project acceleration).

Alignment 5.  Alignment 3 is the same thing for Santa Monica residents, but loses the spur through West Hollywood.
Alignment 5. Alignment 3 is the same thing for Santa Monica residents, but loses the spur through West Hollywood.

Undeterred, several speakers urged Metro to push forward on subway Build Alternatives 3 and 5 (PDF: EIR Executive Summary, pp. 15-21).  Both of these would have the Purple Line continue down Wilshire from Westwood and terminate in downtown Santa Monica at 4th Street.  Although Metro currently lacks the funding to build the line past a Westwood or VA station, adding a “segment to the sea” would boost ridership on the whole extension by 28 percent and likely add an four more stations.

In contrast to those who commented on how they want the subway to be built, six speakers from the Bus Riders Union voiced strong support for the two non-subway alternatives for transit on the Westside, the “no-build” and “Transportation Systems Management” options.  The former is literally what it sounds like, and the latter (TSM) entails increasing the frequency of existing bus service on the Wilshire Corridor.

The main objections to the subway boiled down to three points.  First, the money that would be spent on this extension (roughly $4 billion) would be better spent on other capital, service, and infrastructure improvements, namely more buses, more night and weekend services, and more Wilshire-style bus-only lanes throughout LA County.

Second, the expense of building and operating the subway would benefit a predominantly white and affluent part of Los Angeles County at the expense of transit service in working class non-white neighborhoods.

And third, picking up on the LA Times and LA Weekly’s attempted controversy, BRU representatives argued that the subway extension’s inability to reduce road congestion several decades from now made the project unsupportable.

While I deeply value the BRU’s advocacy for socially equitable transportation and view them as an ally, I want to add some caveats to their arguments.  Regarding the first, while all of those transit improvements they mentioned are critical to building out a complete transit system in Los Angeles County, the voter-approved Measure R funding for the subway has to be used specifically for rapid, mass transit on the Westside.  I too am on a mission to get bus lanes on Olympic Blvd, Venice Blvd, Ventura Blvd, Whittier Blvd, Foothill, La Cienega, and all the rest.  But that’s a different battle (mainly with LADOT and other cities agencies).

BRU representatives huddle in the front as Jody Litvak presents for Metro.  Photo: Carter Rubin
BRU representatives huddle in the front as Jody Litvak presents for Metro. Photo: Carter Rubin

Regarding the second point, while residents of the entire Westside are more white and affluent than the rest of LA County, I think it would be a mistake to conflate the demographic profile of the whole region with the profile of those who use transit to get around it.  Indeed, only 25% of Metro Rail riders in Los Angeles County are white (source) compared to the overall populations of Santa Monica (72% white) or Beverly Hills (85% white), for instance.

Granted, with no existing Metro Rail in West LA, it’s hard to make an apples-to-apples comparison.  But in all likelihood, those who will use the subway, even on the Westside, will still mostly be typical LA area transit users.

While I don’t have data specific to overall Westside transit ridership demographics, my own daily experience riding the Big Blue Bus suggests that we riders are a diverse lot that reflects Los Angeles County as a whole (with a bunch of SMC students sprinkled into the mix).  Additionally, a subway that allows people to travel from Union Station – with its rail, bus, and Metrolink connections – to Westwood in 25 minutes will benefit transit users coming from every corner of LA County to jobs and schools on the Westside.

Which brings me to the final point: if you accept the fact that the subway extension will not reduce local road congestion in the long run because it won’t get people out of their cars, then doesn’t that necessarily mean that the subway would primarily continue to serve existing transit users, the majority of whom are working class and non-white?  The fact that some LA Leaders promised that the subway would reduce traffic – even though the data never really supports that – should not discredit the entire project, especially in light of its benefits to transit riders.

Again, I would hate for this piece to be construed as an attempt to discredit the BRU; their members do an exceptional job keeping Metro honest and focused on those who depend on transit.  However, I do believe that building this subway is truly compatible with those goals.  The extension will serve the densest corridor in LA County, where the 60-foot buses on the 720 Rapid Line look like this at 10pm, even with buses arriving every ten minutes.  At rush hour, they look the same with buses coming every three minutes.

Of course, please let me know if I’ve gone astray in my analysis.  I look forward to reading your thoughts and criticism in the comments section.

Lastly, I’ll give a shout-out to the Santa Monica resident who biked to the meeting from Westwood and managed to stay ahead of one of those very 720 buses the whole way over.  His account is distressingly plausible.  As this was the final Metro meeting for public comment, from here on out you’ll have to turn to your email, phone, or favorite postcard of Los Angeles.

All official public comments on the Westside Subway Extension, specifically the preliminary Environmental Impact Report, are due to Metro by October 18th.  Don’t forget to tell ‘em Streetsblog sent you!

Update: Metro has now posted the presentation it has given at these public comment hearings online, here – September 2010 Public Hearings Presentation [PDF]

Online: Complete our electronic Comment/Question Form

By US Mail:
David Mieger, Project Director
DEO, Countywide Planning & Development
Metro
1 Gateway Plaza, 99-22-5
Los Angeles, CA 90012

Tel: 213.922.6934
Phone messages are retrieved at least once every business day.

Email: WestsideExtension@metro.net
Please be sure to include all of your contact information in the body of your e-mail.

  • The other thing about projecting ridership and traffic impact is that projections will never be important as what people actually do in the future.

    If I had been projecting the state of U.S. race relations in 1940, I probably wouldn’t have seen the civil rights movement coming. People have the capacity to adjust to what they do. As driving becomes more and more unbearable in Los Angeles, transit gets better and better, environmental consciousness rises, gasoline grows more scarce, and the value of walkable neighborhoods near transit becomes more widely understood, things could change in a big way.

    The seeds of a revolution have been planted. It’s up to us and our children to reap.

  • Brent

    I predict a continuous stream of attorneys traveling Purple from Century City to the courthouse downtown, loads of white-and-blue-haired concert-goers headed from Westwood to Disney Hall, sports fans from Brentwood destined for Staples, and a few dedicated shoppers dashing from the Century City mall to Rodeo Drive.

  • Great piece, and that was how I saw the meeting as well. Thanks especially for pointing out the shortcomings in the BRU’s “logic”. In challenging the subway they are hurting those they profess to represent as well as all the other Angelenos who will benefit from this critical project. Thanks too for pointing out the LA Times, LA Weekly (and LA Observed’s) non controversy regarding the EIR and congestion. Your conclusion is spot on. “The fact that some LA leaders promised that the subway would reduce traffic – even though the data never really supports that – should not discredit the entire project, especially in light of its benefits to transit riders.”

  • The Executive Summary of the Draft EIS/EIR indicates that, of residents within a 1/2 mile of the alignment, 15.4%-17.3% are low income and 35.6%-47.0% are minority — depending on the Alternative.

    Please see page 34 here:
    http://www.metro.net/projects_studies/westside/images/Draft_EIS_EIR/Executive%20Summary%20DEIS.pdf

    More information is available in the body of the document

    Jody Litvak
    Metro Westside Subway Extension Team

  • Bruin18

    If Los Angeles is so segregated that a good project like this will predominately help only affluent whites, then we all have a lot of work to change those demographics. A subway can only help — even if it does not solve the problem — by making it easier for employees from other parts of the county to work on the westside.

  • Eric B

    Bruin18 makes a key point, so let me rephrase it:

    The residential demographics of the Westside are only half the story. The employment demographics are as or more important when determining who will ride.

    Low-income riders are more likely to be coming from downtown, Union Station, and points east on transit and continue their journey on the subway. They are the ones that currently do so on the 720.

  • Fred Green

    Thank you, Bruin. Minorties may not live on the west side as much, but a heck of a lot of them sure do WORK on the west side, and take the 720 Wilshire Bus every day. Even with giant articulated buses, and buses spaced every two minutes during rush hour, they are all still PACKED TO THE GILLS during the Rush. (Obviously, there’s more room during off-peak hours).

    During Rush Hours, there is most definitely enough transit users to justify a subway. Right now, the only alternative for these people to taking a bus is buying an old, broken-down, polluting car. If they had the subway option, they would not need to think about buying a 1992 Toyota. I’m not saying these old clunkers make up a majority of vehicles on the road, but they do comprise a significant minority. Anything that would chip away at the amount of old hoopties on the roads would ease pollution, and also save the low income users a ton of money on parking, car insurance, and fixing those heaps when they break down. And it makes more space on the roads as populations increase.

  • Oren

    Why is there such an emphasis on low-income or non-white riders? I grew up in Washington, DC, where the Metro was built in the affluent areas at the same time as the poorer areas. The result is that the Metro was never seen as transit for poor people and instead was seen as something that everyone takes. It’s almost like this city has a ghetto mentality about transit.

    We should build the subway where it is needed, not just where poor people live (and BTW can we stop talking about white people and just talk about income levels?). When the transit system in Los Angeles serves everyone, everyone will ride it.

  • I put in my 2 minutes last night in support of Alt 5 and Constellation. The thing I found most ironic about BRU’s comments was from that one girl who said she has to wake up at 5 AM everyday to take an 2-hour bus ride on the 720 so she can go to class at SMC (I’m assuming she takes the 720 all the way from Whittier based on her time estimate). She then goes on to say THAT is why she opposes the subway. Cognitive dissonance much?

  • Carter,

    I appreciate the care and respectful tone you’ve taken in responding to the BRU’s points. You have held yourself to a higher standard of public discourse than the standards I perceive the BRU to hold. In that spirit, here are what I see as the shortcomings in your argument:

    Responding to the BRU’s claim that the money spend on the subway would be better spent on operations and system-wide improvements, you said,
    “I too am on a mission to get bus lanes on Olympic Blvd, Venice Blvd, Ventura Blvd, Whittier Blvd, Foothill, La Cienega, and all the rest. But that’s a different battle (mainly with LADOT and other cities agencies).”

    Isn’t it the case that the Measure R money could be spent on rapid-bus improvements on the Westside, that that is one of the options considered in the EIR?
    Since the money isn’t locked away into a subway yet, I believe you are incorrect in calling the battle for bus-lanes “a different battle.” The BRU (and others who believe in rapid buses over subways) are at the right battle: the battle to decide how these Measure R funds will be spent on the westside.

    In response to the BRU’s charge that the money spent on the subway will benefit a relatively rich and white area at the expense of transit service in working-class neighborhoods of color, you write, “while residents of the entire Westside are more white and affluent than the rest of LA County, I think it would be a mistake to conflate the demographic profile of the whole region with the profile of those who use transit to get around it.” You go on to say that those who use the subway will most likely fit the profile of today’s transit users.

    I agree with both of your points, but they don’t respond directly to the BRU’s point. The question is, whose needs does the subway meet? How much money is being targeted at what populations? It is true that the subway will do everything that rapid bus service in West LA currently does, and in doing so will meet the needs of existing transit riders. The question is why we should spend (quite a lot of) money to change the service to a train. Who will that benefit? The prevailing answer to that question (that I have heard) is that it will draw new riders out of their cars in a way that a bus cannot, and that it will run faster to better serve long commutes. Both of these arguments implicitly name a wealthier constituency (one with the option to drive).

    You end by saying that, “if you accept the fact that the subway extension will not reduce local road congestion in the long run because it won’t get people out of their cars, then doesn’t that necessarily mean that the subway would primarily continue to serve existing transit users, the majority of whom are working class and non-white?”

    This statement is not correct. It’s not that the subway won’t get people out their cars; it will. The reason the subway extension won’t reduce road congestion is known as Induced Demand. The phenomenon of induced demand is that when travel time is lowered on a congested road, it induces more people to choose to drive on that road. Those might be people who previously took their trips at different times, on different routes, or by other modes, that are now attracted by the reduced travel times. As more of these people switch, the road once again becomes congested. In the case of adding a transit route parallel to a congested road, the corridor carries more travel overall than it did before the transit route was built, but the road is just as congested.

    So the subway extension WILL get some people out of their cars. But that new road space on the corridors affected by the subway will be filled up by new drivers who now find driving during rush hour on those roads more attractive because of the reduced travel times. People will get their cheetos from 7-11 who didn’t before, people who went to work early to avoid rush hour will observe that they can travel later. An example from LA history: when the Orange Line opened, the 101 was less congested for a brief period, providing evidence that some drivers did switch to the Orange Line. But after a week or so, the freeway was backed up the same as always. This wasn’t because drivers switched back to the freeway – the Orange Line ridership numbers were still going strong. It was because of people switching their routes and the time of their trips.

    I guess I would ask a turn-around question to you in response to your piece: if you believe that the ridership demographics on the Subway to Sea will resemble the current ridership demographics, then why should we build it? If you believe that the demographics will differ because of the nature of the service and the affluent neighborhoods in which it will be located, then what does this projected demographic change mean to you? Does it mean that we are spending lots of public money to fund a better commute for a small number of westsiders? Does it mean that we are taking cars of the road? etc. I got a bit turned around in your back and forth with the BRU and I feel like I’ve lost sight of why it is that you support this subway (which I presume you do, since you’ve made all these careful responses to the arguments against the subway).

    Thanks.

  • Joel C

    I will echo Bruin18’s point with my own story.

    I grew up in Huntington Park. When it came time to find a job, I had worked hard for good grades in school, but I had no car and thus poor access to jobs. My two options were (1) find a bad job locally, or (2) take the slow bus to Downtown. I was stuck in an economic ghetto, due to bad transportation options.

    Then the Blue Line opened. All of a sudden, I had a fast and easy way to get to Downtown L.A. and all the jobs in it. The transportation had been removed, and with it, barriers to good employment.

    My point is: fast, reliable rail transit is a great equalizer. A subway to the Westside will open up new job opportunities to people in East L.A., South L.A. and all over the region. This is not an ideological abstraction (like you hear from the BRU). This is a real solution to the economic ghetto.

    L.A. is too big for buses to get people everywhere. You need trains. First-world, second-world and third-world countries all use trains. Because they work. They are faster and more reliable than traveling in mixed traffic. The BRU does a disservice to their message by their singular opposition to rail.

  • Eric B

    The Westside subway is not really a “transit” project if transit is about serving the “transit dependent.” The subway is a transportation project with the goal of providing the capacity of the Beverly Hills freeway that was (thankfully) never built. Traffic congestion without alternatives creates an artificial cap on economic activity. Providing additional transportation capacity is intended to lift that cap by enabling new trips. In suburban areas, that additional capacity is often created by new freeways or additional lanes. However in a dense, urban, walkable, etc. environment, the subway is a much more cost-effective way to meet these economic goals.

    The BRU is great at making sure decision-makers take equity into account. But equity doesn’t mean all projects need to be designed just to move poor people. The subway is a transportation project to facilitate Westside economic growth. It will, secondarily, provide travel time benefits to existing 720 riders.

    The subway is a regional transportation project, not a “transit” project in the way that the BRU understands it.

  • Eric B

    I should add that the reason no surface street congestion is relieved by the subway is that all the new transportation capacity will go toward accommodating economic growth (new trips) rather than replacing existing trips. I’d be worried about the economic vitality of the Westside if the studies had shown a reduction in traffic congestion (see Brian Taylor).

  • Joel C

    bzcat wrote: “The thing I found most ironic about BRU’s comments was from that one girl who said she has to wake up at 5 AM everyday to take an 2-hour bus ride on the 720 so she can go to class at SMC”

    That struck me as odd as well. Here is a perfect example of a struggling minority woman who would greatly benefit from the subway. And her only answer is more buses fighting in traffic. It reminds me of the carpenter who owns only one tool – an axe – to do all his work. Not very effective, when we have other tools available.

    The BRU has an interesting view of people and society. That group sees minority and white populations as fixed, well-defined groups with opposing needs. There seems to be no concept of “minorities” wanting “white jobs” or “whites” wanting to visit “minority areas”. Instead, they see two separate worlds, separate and unequal, as the permanent condition. Starting with that view of the world, the BRU sees trains as a whites-only phenomenon, and thus a threat to bus funding.

    I, on the other hand, think L.A. is a much more fluid and mixed group. Certainly a wealthy white man in Santa Monica has more opportunities than a poor black man in Athens. And certainly discrimination still plays a part, even in this day and age. But there are practical issues as well. Mobility and job access are practical issues for poor communities. Metro Rail benefits minority communities by removing barriers. The Blue, Green and Gold Lines, and the future Expo and Crenshaw Lines, all serve or will serve “minority areas”. But more importantly, they are key parts of a transit system, including buses, bike lanes and subways, that provides mobility to “minorities” and “whites” alike.

  • la rider

    @Herbie B

    Great write. One more thing on why traffic will not be reduced. Population growth. Road widening is incredibly expensive and serves no benefit. After the 405 is widened there will only be more cars sitting between the 101 and 10 on the 405.

    One thing the subway will do is give people an option. As of now there is none, but driving, taking a bus (way too slow), or biking (???? LOL, which I actually have).

  • I think its funny when people say that since the Subway won’t “eliminate congestion” that it’s not worth building. It will ease congestion for me, when I’m zipping past congestion underground at a rapid speed.

  • Mr. Metro

    Look how well Metro predected ridership on the Orange Line… Expectations were surpassed in only a matter of a few years… This subway once completed will surpass and surprise everybody with its ridership… Lets build it now! I’ll get my shovel!

  • More importantly, it gives an option WITHOUT REDUCING EXISTING ROADWAY CAPACITY. You could convert Wilshire Boulevard into a virtual busway, by eliminating all but one lane of local car traffic and implementing an express/limited/local configuration for the route. Two lanes of buses in each direction, operating every 90 seconds (Denver MallRide-style, with a local bus arriving literally every signal cycle) could equal the capacity of a Purple Line train operating at the maximum 6 minute headway (remember, because of the Vermont Avenue bottleneck, there is a 3 minute maximum capacity from Vermont/Wilshire to Union Station).

    But you’d be destroying lane capacity from cars, a nonstarter in this city. Any attempt to destroy lanes from general purpose vehicular traffic will meet the same fate as the Diamond Lane experiment did in the 70’s. You need more carrying capacity, but in an environmentally sustainable and less destructive manner. The subway does that.

  • Joseph E

    Calwatch,

    Even if a 4-lane busway (or 4-track light rail line) were given the full width of Wilshire, and signals were set to give priority to trains or buses, max speed would be limited by pedestrian traffic. Unless you put up 6 foot fences on both sides of the tracks along the sidewalks and put 4-way gates at all intersections (only possible with rail, but very unlikely), 35 mph would be the top speed. This would lead to average speeds around 20 miles per hour, or about 50% longer trips than with a grade-separated subway.

    That’s why New York, Paris and London were building grade-separated rail lines in the 1800’s. Pedestrians crossing streets and rails reduced reliability and speeds even before the wide-spread introduction of bicycles and automobiles. On a corridor like Wilshire, which has several dense commercial centers and continuous linear development, but is over 10 miles long, a grade-separated subway is the only way to keep transit competitive with the 10 freeway, and the only way to make total trip time reasonable from Santa Monica to Downtown.

    The Expo line can be built largely at grade because it goes along a low-density corridor in the middle of the route and has a wide private railroad right-of-way with few crossings, which allows 55 mph or greater top speeds thru the majority of the route. Still, it will be slower by about 10 to 15 minutes, compared to a direct subway from Santa Monica to downtown LA

  • Great points Calwatch and Josef E. In fact, Wilshire also has 150 intersections from Westwood to Downtown.

    Also, Herbie thanks for your very thorough and thoughtful comments.

    I think you’re being fair in saying that I didn’t make a very strong argument for the Subway. This was in part because so many have made good arguments before me, which I was taking for granted, and the other part is that I had reached 1000 words at 1am and kinda had to end the article somewhere. This would be a good thing to address in a follow up piece.

    Indeed, I’m familiar with the concept of induced demand and should have done a better job incorporating that into my analysis.

    I think the bigger point that I was trying to get at was that the BRU was making a pretty unambiguous case that the subway extension is illegitimate because it would overwhelmingly serve affluent white communities. But they did not – and I don’t think they can – actually demonstrate that it will overwhelmingly serve affluent white people.

    Frankly, I can’t make the definitive case either that the subway extension won’t serve a majority white ridership. However, given the existing demographics of rail transit in LA (25% white), it would require that the Westside extension create a sea-change in who uses public transportation in order to justify the BRU’s claims. And I don’t think any one subway line can make changes of that magnitude. But it’s the kind of thing we should be studying much more closely.

    I believe people of all race and class backgrounds in LA will benefit from the subway. A whole bunch of lawyers in Century City are going to take the subway to make trips to meet with clients Downtown, and that’s great for them. I’m looking forward to having the option to take the BBB to the Wilshire/Westwood stop to catch the Red Line to Koreatown (hopefully in the next ten years).

    But much more profoundly, the tens of thousands of of people coming to the Westside by transit every day from all points East and South (and to some extent North) are going to have an hour total shaved off their daily commute by taking the subway over the 720 from Downtown to Westwood. That’s an extra 22 hours per month, for 12 months, for a total of an extra 11 days per person who takes that trip.

    That to me is the fundamental, positive impact of the subway. An extra 11 days worth of time to spend with family, friends, community, in school, etc.

  • Joel C

    No, we cannot predict with complete certainty what proportion of Westside Subway riders will be white. But we can look to our existing subway, the Red Line, from North Hollywood to Downtown.

    On any given even, you will find massive numbers of people riding the Red Line – white, black, Mexican, Salvadoran, Korean, Armenian, etc., etc. And, these people will be teens, business people, graphic designers, artists and tourists.

    The BRU claims that the Red Line is a rich white person’s subway. I would encourage them to ride it once in awhile before they make such claims.

  • LAofAnaheim

    @Joel C…the bus riders union DO ride the train! flickr.com/photos/fredcamino/2743238106/

  • “Since the money isn’t locked away into a subway yet, I believe you are incorrect in calling the battle for bus-lanes “a different battle.” The BRU (and others who believe in rapid buses over subways) are at the right battle: the battle to decide how these Measure R funds will be spent on the westside.”

    ————

    How are those funds not locked in? Measure R was passed by the state legislature and over 2/3 of the voters in Los Angeles County? There was a great battle in the State Legislature to get certain rail proposals specified in the legislation. Part of why Metro is likely only going to the V.A. at this time with the Purple Line extension and not to Federal or Barrington was the specific wording for “Westwood” in Measure R’s legislation rather than “West Los Angeles”.

    There is no majority, let alone supermajority, that supports at the polls the BRU’s idiotic approach to transportation policy and planning.

  • roadblock

    Having spent most of my youth using the RTD and Metro I can say first hand Busses suck in general and a lot of Bus drivers are dicks and bullies to other road users. It’s in their culture. Busses are stuck in the same ridiculous traffic that cars are forever stuck in. I and many angelenos refuse to take the bus anymore because of the stigma and the inconvenience – it will NEVER get better because traffic will NEVER get better. Instead I hit the metro for regional transit then use my bike for local. works perfect. Metro should get on board with this and aggressively promote a Rail/Bike system for the city. Empty out the last car on each rail line for bikes and bulk items. would be so convenient.

  • roadblock

    “metro” meaning hit the “metro rail”

  • The flip side to the BRU championing the underclass is their glaring anti-white bias. Note in the photo below the members are shown on a train immediately flocking to give a sales pitch to a person of color. I’ve seen this behavior numerous times when I’ve encountered their recruiters get on a bus I am riding–they’ll rush over to someone dark skinned and start talking in spanish and handing them a spanish langauge flyer. It you are white they’ll ignore you.

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/fredcamino/2743238106/

    That a white person might use a transit facility is their chief argument for rail being racist. Why is discrimination OK as long as the target is white? The BRU are anti-white bigots and I despise them for it. Plus for how insular and arrogant they are carrying their views as being the only viable ones.

    Transportation is about mobility not a means to solve social ills. And the BRU actually undermine broader support for transit by trying to make it solely about moving the poor and dis-enfranchised. Their attitude to the contrary is shortsighted and unsustainable.

    Their “advocacy for socially equitable transportation” is faltering as the culture has shifted while they still use the same strident rhetoric and tactics of their early years. All their protests and street theater antics failed miserably to prevent the fare increase Metro just implemented. Ditto the Dec. service changes that Metro has in the pipeline. All they achieved turning a Metro Board meeting into a near riot is guarantee next time Metro will clampt down early and not let things get out of hand. And the BRU has the stones to decry meeting restrictions.

    P.S. – what happened to the latest threat they issued of undertaking a fare strike? A fizzle, proving they make lots of noise but actually get little done these days. Feh!

  • roadblock

    Yes, the rail cars are geared more towards the wealthier class. It’s true. why? because trains are roomier and faster and wealthy people are always “rushed for time” and if they have to sit on a bus in traffic they are over it. Rail has more space too. Because once again wealthy people dont like the idea of sitting next to what they fear will be a smelly homeless person.

    BUT ok so what, have you ridden the rail in LA? EVERY class uses the subway, from Laker games to REDCAT to Universal City to job commuting. It’s a wonderful thing when you go to a city and you see people of all classes commuting by public transit. I always love that about New York and Europe. It’s a thing of beauty to see people of varying classes equalized in transit. It’s a good thing. The Metro does that and will continue to do it if it’s built out well enough. The streets will still have maddening traffic, just like New York does. My bet is that you’ll see traffic become more cabs and busses like new york has.

  • roadblock

    busses are not feasible to be a long distance transit option in Los Angeles. neither are cars. Busses can really only make sense as a local option. the city of LA tried to make busses work for a cross city commute but the only successful ones so far are the 110 and orangeline which both mimic rail in distance between stops and uninterrupted routing. every other bus runs at a local pace stuck in traffic. taking away a lane down wilshire is a good idea but the cross town commute will still suck badly due to lights and left and right turn traffic anyway and it will still be cramped which sucks. give the working people a nice spacious train, capture a bunch of the wealthy commuters or let them rot in their cars.

    The BRU is misguided. They should be asking for trains trains trains. The people deserve a good spacious fast commute. Metro Rail plus Bicycles/local buses. perfect.

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