some thoughts on mass transit in Los Angeles

was talking with some local reps about mass transit in Los Angeles….. thought you guys might find this interesting.

best jason

From my reading and understanding we are dealing with a supply and demand issue. As such there are two basic functions to change traffic: increase supply or reduce demand. The best ideas for this seem to be:

1. REDUCING DEMAND with congestion pricing: London has had solid success with this by charging about $12 to drive into the most congested part of the city during the busiest times. Of course, London has a brilliant mass transit system and Los Angeles does not, so implementing this system would take some work. A charge of $5-10 to cross the 405 and 10 during rush hour (say, 4pm-6:30pm) would certainly incentivize people to shift their driving patterns. this could be done with wireless devices such as Easypass (in the northeast). You head north on the 405 in rush hour and you're charged at the on ramp automatically. you don't need to have life attendants. someone gets on during rush hour without easypass they get a ticket. 

2. INCREASING SUPPLY: Finish the west side subway/RED line (attached image) ASAP! This is obvious, and i can tell you my company (which is at 11th and Colorado in Santa Monica) contributes at least two dozen cars to rush hour. This subway would eliminate almost all of them as the young folks working for us would much rather save money and time by taking the train. even if it was the same amount of time, they would take the train to read and save money. 

3. OTHER: We should make the bus and subway free. Period. Usage would jump if it was free (or a token amount, like a quarter). We should simply increase the tax on cars based on millage (perhaps tax only cars that are below 20mpg?) and shift the money to the bus and train budgets. This would also have serious economic benefit according to many: http://www.bloggingstocks.com/2009/02/17/should-mass-transit-be-made-free-to-stimulate-the-u-s-economy/ 

all the best, jason

3 thoughts on “some thoughts on mass transit in Los Angeles

  1. Great suggestions for 1 and 2, but I disagree on the last item. Instead of making the subway and buses free, I would much rather see a reduced price on an unlimited monthly pass. This would get more people to purchase monthly passes. Sell them at every Ralph’s, Vons and corner liquor store. Cut deals with the Bank of America and Wells Fargo and let people buy them in ATMs. When someone spends their money on a monthly pass, this gives them an incentive to use it more often.

    I grew up in Southern Calif (Orange County) and used to take the bus all the time – mostly due to the availability of a monthly unlimited pass. Where I live now here in Salt Lake City, we have unlimited monthly passes available that help people take the bus and light rail a lot more. When I’ve visited NYC, I buy an unlimited weekly pass because it’s so much easier and cheaper than taking cabs everywhere.

    I am a huge advocate for public transportation, but adding incentives for people to use it is key to it’s overall use and reducing the large amount of vehicles off the roads and freeways.

  2. #1. You will always need some human attendants. What if a driver is from out of town? Or rarely drives? Or just can’t afford the transponder? (Despite that, I think this iddea has merit.)
    #2. Word. Another line that is needed is a light rail line that runs down the 405 from the Sherman Oaks area to the Santa Monica area. Stick it where the median is; build pedestrian overpasses over the highway to get to it (or stack parking decks on top of the highway).
    #3. Jason, you’re such a communist. 😉

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