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  #1  
Old Posted Jan 5, 2022, 7:07 PM
kittyhawk28 kittyhawk28 is offline
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Are LA's rail transit expansion plans enough to shift the city away from the car?

LA's rail transit expansion plans over the next few decades are pretty amazing for an American metro region. For context, this is the full Build-Out of LA Metro Rail System as planned by Measure M & 2020 Long Range Transportation Plan:

Whereas this is the planned 2028 LA Metro Rail System if the Twenty-eight by '28 Initiative is fully implemented:

And this is the current extent of the Metro Rail System:

While these plans are expansive, they still leave major swathes of the city not covered by rail. Even still, major up-zoning must be coupled with these plans in order to truly make it viable for residents to not have to rely on the car on a day to day basis. I'd be curious how others view these plans, and how they compare to rail expansions planned in other American cities.
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Old Posted Jan 5, 2022, 7:13 PM
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I don't believe that LA's transit expansion plans are enough to shift the city away from the car. BUT, it's all about OPTIONS, which is what living in a big city should be about, right? The more public transit, the better. It won't necessarily relieve traffic, but it gives people other options of getting around. The more, the better.

I saw this video a few days ago:

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  #3  
Old Posted Jan 5, 2022, 9:07 PM
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Originally Posted by sopas ej View Post
I don't believe that LA's transit expansion plans are enough to shift the city away from the car. BUT, it's all about OPTIONS, which is what living in a big city should be about, right? The more public transit, the better.
So true, this is really about options. A lot of arguments against mass transit claim how it won't improve traffic. But if it's built completely enough within a well planned land use system to be convenient, it can easily pull people out of their cars, whereas building more freeway lanes ultimately just keeps them driving. And we have look at the issue less in terms of "relieving traffic congestion" and more in terms of choices. A livable city/ metro provides options so that you can avoid the traffic, the car expense, the parking, the stress etc. and just get from here to there another way.
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Old Posted Jan 5, 2022, 9:17 PM
iheartthed iheartthed is offline
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I would argue that L.A.'s transit development shouldn't be so much about forcing behavioral changes on existing residents. Instead, it should be aimed at attracting new people that will gravitate towards transit oriented lifestyles, and also giving that option to existing residents that want it already.
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Old Posted Jan 5, 2022, 7:21 PM
Manitopiaaa Manitopiaaa is offline
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No, routing everything to Downtown makes only trips to Downtown feasible by mass transit.

LA is too big that people are willing to transfer in Downtown. Oftentimes that's a 45 minute detour. They'd just take an Uber in that case.
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Old Posted Jan 5, 2022, 7:27 PM
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Extremely unlikely. LA has already built a ton of rail transit, and transit share has actually dropped. LA had higher transit share with a bus-only system. It's pretty implausible that adding a few more lines will have a differing impact than previous investments.

That said, it doesn't mean that these aren't prudent investments. There are benefits beyond whether there's a paradigm shift in mobility.

Ridership is usually linked to relative difficulty of driving, not ease of transit, and LA is extremely hospitable to driving. You ride transit in, say, Paris not because the Metro is necessarily amazing, but because driving a car is foolish and near-impossible. There's nowhere in LA where someone can't easily move around and park using private vehicles.

Also, LA's transit investments, while impressive for U.S. standards, are pretty minimal for global standards. They're building one subway line. That's it. The rest is just trolleys and BRT. The commuter rail is diesel-only, isn't even grade separated, and has barely any ridership. The subway will have two lines, in a metro of 18+ million. The region is so decentralized that high transit share is highly unlikely, ever, in such an affluent nation.
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  #7  
Old Posted Jan 5, 2022, 7:32 PM
kittyhawk28 kittyhawk28 is offline
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Originally Posted by Crawford View Post
Extremely unlikely. LA has already built a ton of rail transit, and transit share has actually dropped. LA had higher transit share with a bus-only system. It's pretty implausible that adding a few more lines will have a differing impact than previous investments.

That said, it doesn't mean that these aren't prudent investments. There are benefits beyond whether there's a paradigm shift in mobility.

Ridership is usually linked to relative difficulty of driving, not ease of transit, and LA is extremely hospitable to driving. You ride transit in, say, Paris not because the Metro is necessarily amazing, but because driving a car is foolish and near-impossible. There's nowhere in LA where someone can't easily move around and park using private vehicles.
Isn't transit share dropping due in part to poorer riders simply being priced out of the region? If hypothetically the city's housing becomes less expensive (accommodated by major rezoning around transit stops), then we should see boosts in ridership?

I don't think the car will outright be replaced by transit, but my main question was that whether or not transit expansion over the next 40 years will be enough to make it viable to live and work around LA without needing a car for day-to-day routines.
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  #8  
Old Posted Jan 5, 2022, 7:57 PM
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Originally Posted by kittyhawk28 View Post
my main question was that whether or not transit expansion over the next 40 years will be enough to make it viable to live and work around LA without needing a car for day-to-day routines.
As a sometimes transit user in LA, I can tell you the biggest obstacle to using the system for me was the 'first mile/last mile' challenge. I'm fortunate to live in a neighborhood that actually is served by a metro stop. However, I am just a little too far to comfortably walk to the station (~25 min walk). I don't have a bike, and I wouldn't want to take it on the train and to work with me anyways. I can take a bus, but it takes a bit of planning and good luck to make the bus and make the train. Subway headways are 10 mins (at peak! more like 20 outside of that). Just way too many hurtles to jump when I can drive in 25 mins and park pretty cheaply. If there was a better connection to the subway, I'd use it way more. But it's just too much effort to use, when driving is faster, easier, cleaner, etc.
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  #9  
Old Posted Jan 5, 2022, 8:00 PM
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^ back when I was a car-feee bachelor in Chicago, I used a folding bike to solve a lot of "last mile" situations.

Now that I have two young children, if transit doesn't get us easily and directly to our destination, the we definitely use our car.
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  #10  
Old Posted Jan 5, 2022, 8:04 PM
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^ back when I was a car-feee bachelor in Chicago, I used a folding bike to solve a lot of "last mile" situations.
I think biking in Chicago is probably quite a bit better than LA. I'm not really an adventurous biker, and I am definitely too intimidated to bike on LA's streets (absent a dedicated bike lane). When I was in SF in November, I biked all around there with some local friends, and that was very cool. Still a little scary at times, but most of the streets up there are pretty much at a pedestrian scale. Whereas many of LA's surface streets feel like mini freeways...
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  #11  
Old Posted Jan 6, 2022, 4:57 AM
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Originally Posted by edale View Post
As a sometimes transit user in LA, I can tell you the biggest obstacle to using the system for me was the 'first mile/last mile' challenge. I'm fortunate to live in a neighborhood that actually is served by a metro stop. However, I am just a little too far to comfortably walk to the station (~25 min walk). I don't have a bike, and I wouldn't want to take it on the train and to work with me anyways. I can take a bus, but it takes a bit of planning and good luck to make the bus and make the train. Subway headways are 10 mins (at peak! more like 20 outside of that). Just way too many hurtles to jump when I can drive in 25 mins and park pretty cheaply. If there was a better connection to the subway, I'd use it way more. But it's just too much effort to use, when driving is faster, easier, cleaner, etc.
I'm a sometimes transit user too, but I guess I'm a little fortunate in that the nearest Metro Rail station (South Pasadena station on the Gold/L Line) is only a little over a half mile from where I live. Depending on traffic lights and how fast I walk, I can get there in 12-15 minutes. Pre-pandemic, when I was going downtown more often, I was taking the train instead of driving downtown.
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  #12  
Old Posted Jan 30, 2022, 11:52 PM
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Originally Posted by edale View Post
As a sometimes transit user in LA, I can tell you the biggest obstacle to using the system for me was the 'first mile/last mile' challenge. I'm fortunate to live in a neighborhood that actually is served by a metro stop. However, I am just a little too far to comfortably walk to the station (~25 min walk). I don't have a bike, and I wouldn't want to take it on the train and to work with me anyways. I can take a bus, but it takes a bit of planning and good luck to make the bus and make the train. Subway headways are 10 mins (at peak! more like 20 outside of that). Just way too many hurtles to jump when I can drive in 25 mins and park pretty cheaply. If there was a better connection to the subway, I'd use it way more. But it's just too much effort to use, when driving is faster, easier, cleaner, etc.
You don't have a bus that you can take to get to the train station? As a frequent/daily metro user that can get pretty much anywhere I think that most of the first mile/last mile concerns are from people that won't consider riding a bus. Not you of course, but LA has really good bus coverage and prior to the pandemic it was pretty frequent depending on your location.

I agree that the subway frequencies are atrocious. We elect people that want our system to be the cheapest/freeest as well as the most equitable with no goal of it being the best or even good. So here we are.
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  #13  
Old Posted Jan 5, 2022, 8:08 PM
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Originally Posted by kittyhawk28 View Post
I don't think the car will outright be replaced by transit, but my main question was that whether or not transit expansion over the next 40 years will be enough to make it viable to live and work around LA without needing a car for day-to-day routines.
I think it's already viable today, to be able to live and work around LA without a car. You just have to live near a rail line stop and keep a car for trips outside of the city or do car sharing.
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  #14  
Old Posted Jan 5, 2022, 7:42 PM
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Originally Posted by Crawford View Post
Ridership is usually linked to relative difficulty of driving, not ease of transit, and LA is extremely hospitable to driving. You ride transit in, say, Paris not because the Metro is necessarily amazing, but because driving a car is foolish and near-impossible. There's nowhere in LA where someone can't easily move around and park using private vehicles.
I think this has got a lot to do with it. DTLA still has far too many surface parking lots and garages. In fact, one of their recent proposals is building a residential tower on top of an existing garage, rather than tearing it down and starting from scratch. Lots of new towers in South Park but they're all on massive parking podiums. Seems like DTLA has been adding more parking rather than decreasing it. I bet if you eliminated 50% of parking downtown, public transit usage rate would increase dramatically. Make parking more difficult and people will have no choice but to take the train into DTLA.
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Old Posted Jan 6, 2022, 4:51 AM
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I think this has got a lot to do with it. DTLA still has far too many surface parking lots and garages. In fact, one of their recent proposals is building a residential tower on top of an existing garage, rather than tearing it down and starting from scratch. Lots of new towers in South Park but they're all on massive parking podiums. Seems like DTLA has been adding more parking rather than decreasing it. I bet if you eliminated 50% of parking downtown, public transit usage rate would increase dramatically. Make parking more difficult and people will have no choice but to take the train into DTLA.
Well, because of zoning requirements, somewhat ironically, parking did indeed increase in downtown LA because they built more residences---each unit of housing has to have parking.
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Old Posted Jan 6, 2022, 10:56 PM
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Originally Posted by homebucket View Post
I think this has got a lot to do with it. DTLA still has far too many surface parking lots and garages. In fact, one of their recent proposals is building a residential tower on top of an existing garage, rather than tearing it down and starting from scratch. Lots of new towers in South Park but they're all on massive parking podiums. Seems like DTLA has been adding more parking rather than decreasing it. I bet if you eliminated 50% of parking downtown, public transit usage rate would increase dramatically. Make parking more difficult and people will have no choice but to take the train into DTLA.
There are too many surface lots and parking podiums downtown. Fortunately now there are a few structures in the pipeline that do no include parking. Regarding the tower you're referring to to be built, the first 3 floors of that parking structure is a Macy's.
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  #17  
Old Posted Jan 5, 2022, 7:39 PM
edale edale is online now
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The ongoing Purple Line extension is going to be a real game changer for transit in LA, I think. It's going to be awesome to finally have a subway under Wilshire, connecting Downtown LA and Koreatown to the museum district on at Fairfax (LACMA, La Brea tar pits, Peterson, Academy of Motion Picture museum), Rodeo Drive/Beverly Hills, Century City, Westwood/UCLA, etc. Those are some big destinations for tourists and locals alike, and I think it's going to be the spine of LA's transit system going forward. Also, finally having a true rail connection to LAX is a big deal, as is the people mover being constructed there. I'd like to see the LAX stop served by a faster train to DTLA or other points of interest, but it's still a pretty big accomplishment to finally provide a rail option to the millions of people who fly through LAX every year.

Some things I would personally prioritize for future improvements are:

1) Extend the Red Line to connect to Burbank Airport and Metrolink (and future CAHSR) station

2) Extend the Crenshaw Line north to connect to both the Purple and Red Lines.

Long term, I'd love to see another E-W line connecting DTLA with WeHo, hitting Echo Park, and Silverlake heading out of downtown, and then going along Santa Monica Blvd to West Hollywood.


That said, Southern California will always be a car-centric region. I agree with Sopas, though. Regional transit investment is about providing options. We already have very extensive driving infrastructure here, so I welcome the regional transit investments.

Last edited by edale; Jan 5, 2022 at 7:49 PM.
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  #18  
Old Posted Jan 5, 2022, 7:47 PM
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Transit ridership is much if not mostly by people who can't afford a car. It only takes a single car to enable 4-5-6 dirt-poor people to almost completely avoid riding the bus.
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Old Posted Jan 6, 2022, 4:02 AM
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Transit ridership is much if not mostly by people who can't afford a car. It only takes a single car to enable 4-5-6 dirt-poor people to almost completely avoid riding the bus.
That’s not necessarily true. Ridership is high in cities where it’s the better alternative to driving. There’s plenty of white collar workers that commute via public transit in cities with higher transit usage, where employee parking is limited and traffic is horrendous due to bottlenecks on freeways. During peak times, twice as many people cross the Bay via Transbay Tube vs the Bay Bridge.
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Old Posted Jan 30, 2022, 11:45 PM
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Transit ridership is much if not mostly by people who can't afford a car. It only takes a single car to enable 4-5-6 dirt-poor people to almost completely avoid riding the bus.
This is true primarily in the sunbelt and is true in LA. Conceptually people that can afford a car, but chose transit are called "choice" riders as in they have choices/options and choose public transit. Metro used to focus on attracting such riders, but they are secondary now to serving riders that are at-risk and have been treated poorly in the past. Without going into detail choice riders have abandoned metro and the riders that remain are doing all that they can to get a car. I don't see that changing without a policy shift within metro and I don't see that happening either. Metro is a disaster right now imo.
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