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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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  #2  
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, 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
Crawford Crawford is offline
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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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  #5  
Old Posted Jan 5, 2022, 7:32 PM
kittyhawk28 kittyhawk28 is offline
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Quote:
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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  #6  
Old Posted Jan 5, 2022, 7:39 PM
edale edale is offline
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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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  #7  
Old Posted Jan 5, 2022, 7:42 PM
homebucket homebucket is offline
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Quote:
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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  #8  
Old Posted Jan 5, 2022, 7:47 PM
jmecklenborg jmecklenborg is offline
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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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  #9  
Old Posted Jan 5, 2022, 7:57 PM
edale edale is offline
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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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  #10  
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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  #11  
Old Posted Jan 5, 2022, 8:04 PM
edale edale is offline
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Originally Posted by Steely Dan View Post
^ 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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  #12  
Old Posted Jan 5, 2022, 8:08 PM
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Quote:
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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  #13  
Old Posted Jan 5, 2022, 8:37 PM
Obadno Obadno is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kittyhawk28 View Post
LA's rail transit expansion plans over the next few decades are pretty amazing for an American metro region.

Will it shift LA away from the car
NO but its not due to lack of trying, the primary reason is that the urban form of LA and other post ww2 north American cities are car oriented from a foundational level. It will take DECADES of replacing and retrofitting existing structures and neighborhoods to change this.

You may see neighborhoods along the transit lines that are transit oriented but you are not going to see LA be NYC, its simply not going to happen unless you obliterate exiting LA and start over al la Napoleon the 3rd did to Paris or ya know a good World War style flattening.
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  #14  
Old Posted Jan 5, 2022, 8:46 PM
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I can't comment specifically on LA riders, but I'm delaying my long awaited LA vacation until the rail lines are running. Having to rent a vehicle for a vacation not only greatly increases the cost, but you lose too much time in traffic.
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Old Posted Jan 5, 2022, 8:54 PM
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Originally Posted by jigglysquishy View Post
I can't comment specifically on LA riders, but I'm delaying my long awaited LA vacation until the rail lines are running. Having to rent a vehicle for a vacation not only greatly increases the cost, but you lose too much time in traffic.
The rail lines are already running. LA has had a large rail network for about 20 years now.

That said, pre-pandemic I was in LA relatively frequently, and can assure you that a rental car is a much faster, easier way to get around town.

I can't imagine relying on buses and light rail to get you from Santa Monica to the Getty to West Hollywood, etc. Parking is cheap and convenient, and traffic moves quickly. Look at LA surface streets. They're huge.
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Old Posted Jan 5, 2022, 8:54 PM
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They’re doing this already, but LA needs to really market its transit as much as possible, and it has to educate the public on how the transit system works.

Also that purple line is indeed a game changer. I would also think that line that follows the 405 would have some heavy use, as that stretch of freeway is some of the busiest in the country, with constant heavy traffic and jams.
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Old Posted Jan 5, 2022, 9:07 PM
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Quote:
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, 9:15 PM
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To really address this question, we'll need to hear about buses. Rail plus the current bus system will have a limited effect.

LA has a lot of hurdles beyond infrastructure, but a better bus system would go a long way.
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Old Posted Jan 5, 2022, 9:17 PM
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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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  #20  
Old Posted Jan 5, 2022, 9:17 PM
kittyhawk28 kittyhawk28 is offline
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Perhaps another way to enhance LA Metro ridership would be to enhance the region's Metrolink commuter rail system. If we overlay the regional Metrolink System with the planned built-out and 2028 LA Metro Rail systems, there's promise that enhanced Metrolink services would funnel more passengers into Union Station, in turn, complementing LA Metro's expansion and ridership:

LA Metro Network Measure M Build-Out + Metrolink:

2028 LA Metro Network + Metrolink:


One of the problems with Metrolink is that currently it has sluggish frequencies, that make it very inconvenient to use for most commuters. Metrolink is trying to improve this by its SCORE Program + Link Union Station project, with the aim of offering 30 minute all-day or peak frequencies on the core sections of all lines across the system by 2028:




Hopefully, these improvements should make it more viable for the region to have reliable and more convenient regional rail service, and correspondingly improve the ridership of LA Metro if there are increased numbers of commuters using Metrolink instead of driving to workplaces in the city.
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