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Old Posted Feb 12, 2022, 10:44 PM
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Quixote Quixote is offline
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Join Date: Apr 2006
Location: Los Angeles
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Originally Posted by Crawford View Post
There's some scholarship suggesting that transit orientation is more a function of driving being hard than transit being easy.
Generally speaking, yes. But when I mentioned Philadelphia being the "best designed city, by far," I was alluding to this sentiment. Philly's easily the least car-friendly city by design. It has a tight grid, housing with no side or rear parking (unlike Boston), no mid-block alleys (unlike Chicago), narrow residential streets (unlike SF), and very few wide arterials (unlike DC and NYC).

Philly is also the poorest of the "Other Five," and is very centralized. Its heavy rail infrastructure is among the best (underrated actually) in NA, with 75 stations spaced across just 37 miles. Trolley lines and commuter rail serve many parts of the city without heavy rail.

Despite these factors working in Philly's favor, nearly 71% of households own at least one car.

Conversely, SF, DC, and Boston: A) have more obviously car-oriented design features, B) are far wealthier cities, and C) have more de-centralized employment centers. Yet, all three have lower car ownership rates and much higher percentages of non-car commuters.

Obviously hard can take different contexts, where, for example, in Singapore it's generally too expensive to own a vehicle, or in Mexico City, the auto congestion is terrible. But in LA, I've never felt that driving was in any way difficult, anywhere, so it isn't shocking that choice riders go with the convenient option. Traffic moves, parking is affordable and plentiful, and the city is structured to accommodate private vehicles.

It also means that here in the U.S., we shouldn't be surprised when transit share doesn't increase due to transit investments, but due to measures making driving more burdensome. LA is probably more likely to see rising transit share via (to take random examples) additional gas taxes, parking restrictions, tolled highways, narrowed streets, etc. Of course these moves are all much more difficult than transit ribbon-cuttings.
The absence of viable alternatives heavily factors into driving being the most convenient option. Once the Purple Line extension is finished in 5 years, it will take 25 minutes to travel from Wilshire/Westwood to Pershing Square. During weekday rush hour, that trip can take anywhere from 40-80 minutes by car (according to Google Maps).

Making it harder to drive absolutely factors into increasing transit share, but implementing city-wide road diets and building housing without parking "cold turkey" isn't possible here. It could work in smaller cities (population and geographic area) with more homogenous racial demographics like, say, Seattle or Minneapolis.
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