Q&A with Measure R Oversight Committee Advisory Panel member Gary Painter

All things come to those who wait. In May I solicited input from readers of this blog for questions to ask Measure R Oversight Committee Advisory Panel transit system user members Gary Painter and Allison Yoh. The final set of questions I subsequently e-mailed Painter and Yoh included several that blog readers had suggested. Painter and Yoh sent their responses shortly thereafter. But in the meantime life happened and I had to put the task of doing the final writeup aside until now. My apologies to one and all for the delay.

Professor Gary Painter

Below are the responses of Painter, who as I previously noted is Director of the Graduate Program in Public Policy and Management for the USC School of Policy, Planning and Development. Yoh’s responses will follow tomorrow.

Gabbard: Briefly describe your academic background?

Painter: I was trained as an economist at UC Berkeley, and have been at USC since 1996. I primarily conduct research on housing markets and education policy. My main focus has been on the housing and locational choices of immigrants. I have only conducted one study of immigrant transit mode choice, so my academic expertise on transportation policy issues is limited.

Gabbard: To what extent are you a daily train user? Is it you main means of mobility? What other modes do you use (automobile, bicycle)?

I either take transit or I telecommute. I drive to either the Willow, Norwalk, or Lakewood park and ride, and then take transit in to USC from there.

How long have they been riding transit (i.e. from what age)? Have you experienced outside of Los Angeles, outside of California and outside of North America? Any impressions or thoughts about our system compared to others?

I have riding transit exclusively since 2007. I ride the DC Metro at least 3 times a year, and rode BART daily when living in Northern California. I have also used public transit in Europe. The metro cars and buses are generally not as nice as the other systems. The metro cars appear to be designed for low capacity usage.

Gabbard: What reaction did you have when asked to serve on the panel? Have you undergone any briefings or been supplied with any materials by the agency prepatory to your service? Have you been given an idea when the panel may be convened and how often it is anticipated it will meet?

I was happy to participate as a transit rider. I have not been briefed at this point as to what my role might be.

Gabbard: What further improvements would you make to the present Metro system, if any?

As gas prices have increased, the metro system has become much more crowded. The park n rides are at capacity before 7:30am on most days (Willow is an exception). My concern is that the system does not have a reasonable way to accommodate increases in demand.

Are you excited at the prospect of undertaking this advisory role to a public entity?

I am pleased to serve.

Gabbard: “Would you be willing to sell your car and rely on public transportation for at least 90% of your trips while you are a member of the panel? If not, why not? Would you be willing to give up your position to a current transit user who does not use a car?”

I suppose in some ways we are not completely representative of all transit riders because I have the choice to drive every day, but choose not to. I would not give up my auto for all of the other mobility issues. Some households do not have a car, and therefore have no other options, and I could imagine the need for their voice as well.

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