Thursday, September 23, 2010

Bad times for LA transit

The LA MTA just announced a 4% reduction in bus service in order to save some money. From the LA Times story:
Of all the transportation services MTA provides -- operating buses, subways and light rail lines and working with Caltrans on highway projects -- bus service is one of the most popular, with slightly more than 1 million boardings a day.

So the most popular mode is being cut, even though it is far more cost effective per rider than rail. That's sad. What is even sadder is that these cuts of Metro Rapid (express bus service) are called "right-sizing" Metro Rapid. (This is here under "Discussion.") Rail is not held to a "right-size" standard, though some rail riders will not get new and safer cars. In light of this awful news about making the bus riders suffer, let's return to the LA Times story from this past July about the 20th anniversary of the Metro Rail system:
Los Angeles officials will hold a major event Friday near Staples Center to mark the 20-year expansion of urban rail service in the county and what they see as a dynamic shift that will transform the nation's car capital into a model for mass transit.

But although the region now has a gleaming system of subways and light-rail trains, some transportation experts say the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority's $8-billion effort — less operating costs — has done little to reduce traffic congestion or increase the use of mass transit much beyond the level in 1985, when planning for the Metro Blue Line began.

Rather than bolster ridership, these experts say, the emphasis on rail has come at the expense of the MTA's vast network of buses and may have cost the agency at least 1.5 billion passenger boardings from 1986 to 2006.

"Overall, the push for rail has forced transit ridership down," said Tom Rubin, a veteran transit consultant and former chief financial officer for the MTA's predecessor. "Had they run a lot of buses at low fares, they could have doubled the number of riders."

I'd like to hear more about that "model for mass transit" thing is working out.

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