Friday, June 23, 2017

Joe Mathews: Don’t Believe the L.A. Transit Hype

Mod: I was looking for more info so I could follow up on yesterday's story about the heavily armed Gold Line vagrant arrested Wednesday. I then stumbled upon the following 2016 Joe Mathews piece. Here is a good portion of it, with a link that will take you to the entire article.

Don’t Believe the L.A. Transit Hype (zocalopublicsquare.org link): I wish this were a happy column about the advance of California public transit. I wish I could report that my own life is better now that I ride the brand-new Metro Expo Line extension to work in Santa Monica. And I wish I could validate all the triumphant talk of the great metropolis of Los Angeles becoming a fabulous train town again, with the restoration of a vital rail link between its city center and the Pacific.

But I’m a rail commuter in Southern California now, so I no longer have time for fairy tales.

Or much of anything else.

Perhaps I expected too much. For four long years, I’ve commuted between the San Gabriel Valley and Santa Monica—always at least an hour each way, often 90 minutes or more—while dreaming of the day when the Expo Line would extend to downtown Santa Monica and my commute, and with it my life, would change for the better.

That day arrived two weeks ago, and immediately my dreams were dashed. I had been ready for the hiccups and kinks of a new line, and I had been warned that the trains would be slower and crowded until Metro could add enough cars and drivers for full service.

But I was unprepared for just how slow—and painful—a commute via light rail could be.

On my first day—the fourth day of service on the new line—I dropped off my two younger boys at preschool and drove five minutes to a Gold Line station in Pasadena, parked, and walked three minutes to the train. I was happy and eager for the new routine.

Then I waited 20 minutes for a train to arrive—the wait is supposed to be less than 10 minutes at that hour. And the train moved slowly—it took more than 40 minutes to reach Union Station downtown (the train schedule says it should take 30).

There I had to switch to the subway to go three stops to pick up the new Expo Line. But the switch was mismanaged by a Metro staffer who inexplicably packed two subway cars with people—while refusing to let anyone onto two relatively empty cars. That train left, stranding hundreds of us for another 10 minutes before another subway arrived and we were allowed to board.

The switch to the new Expo Line at the Metro Center station for the third leg of my trip was smooth. But the Expo Line was painfully slow. Metro had advertised a 48-minute ride, but it took more than an hour. The track runs down the middle of streets—and the train stops for traffic lights at some intersections. In Santa Monica, after a six-block walk, I arrived at work two and a half hours after I had reached the Pasadena station—25 miles away. In that same time, I could have flown to Las Vegas, played the airport slots, and flown home, jackpot in hand.

The return trip was even more frustrating. I waited another 20 minutes to board and depart on a train from the downtown Santa Monica station. Once on board, a fellow passenger started screaming how much Jesus loved me (even as I wondered if the transit gods had forsaken me).

I opened my laptop, something I can’t do in my car, and got some work done with the aid of my office’s mobile hotspot. Yes, it’s BYO wifi. My attempt to conduct a phone interview failed (the train was too loud). And after about 45 minutes of typing with my computer on my legs while sitting on one of the train’s hard plastic chairs, my back started to hurt.

As I boarded the Gold Line, I had been in transit for nearly two hours. I needed to go to the bathroom, but no such luck. Metro trains, not exactly designed with multi-hour voyages in mind, don’t have bathrooms. And I couldn’t work on the Gold Line—the two-car train was so full it had no open seats.

I had allowed myself two and a half hours to return to Pasadena, grab my car and pick up the boys at preschool by 5:45 p.m. It wasn’t enough. Metro’s very affordable $1.75 fare—less than a buck an hour!—had become a $31.75 trip, with the $30 preschool fine for late pickup. I had spent nearly five hours commuting—and just four and a half hours at work. Yes, our car culture isn’t sustainable—but neither is public transit like this.

Mod: The rest of the article is available at the link supplied above.

sierramadretattler.blogspot.com

53 comments:

  1. Article should be titled. Views on public transportation by entitled upper middle class male whose never used public transportation

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    1. Right. Anyone who questions the level of service Metro provides needs to be quickly and thoroughly guilt tripped. The essence of blue collar life is being treated like crap on a daily basis. To not accept that is to be guilty of elitism.

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    2. $30 late fee for late pick up at Day Care? What? No cell phone to call the mom or the neighbor on the list of acceptable alternative adults for the emergency pick up? Please! With his level of poor planning I imagine his being late for same by car/freeway transit on occasion, too. At any rate, no mater what mode you take, you need to be early or else you will always be late.

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    3. Many of the children of parents who must use public transportation as a daily necessity,not a novelty to travel to the office,are to busy helping the family survive to go to day care.

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    4. Many Day Care outfits run like credit cards. Lateness brings penalties. It is intentional, and it is how they pad their income.

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    5. No 8:00 it's a motivation to pick up your kids by the deadline. Penalties don't work unless they hurt. Preschools have to pay overtime as well. And the employees lives should not be dictated by parental issues.

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    6. 8:00, it is a real imposition on the people who work in day care to leave your children with them beyond the agreed upon hours. They make very little money as it is, and to force them to work overtime is unfair.

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  2. The article was written a year ago when the service first opened,there has been improvement but still slow on the Expo line it moves along with the flow of traffic. It's public transportation,like a bus with steel wheels on a track.

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  3. Metro Has Spent Billions On Rail, But No One's Riding
    http://laist.com/2016/01/27/public_transit_ridership_down_despi.php

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    1. I am on the metro from Sierra Madre to all parts of LA downtown with lots of others in this "...no one's Riding" category. Who are these people who can't understand public transit and use it to their advantage?

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    2. I think people make very pragmatic decisions on transportation. Are they better off taking their cars, or taking the Metro. Declining ridership figures show how those decisions are being made. Car commuting is awful, but the alternative is worse.

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    3. The last time I flew in to LAX experimented with mass transit- bus to train to the Sierra Madre Villa station. Not kidding - from the time I deplaned to when I the train pulled in it took four hours...

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    4. I moved here from New York City. I didn't own an automobile there because there was no reason to do so. Public transportation was adequate, and if I needed a car for a weekend trip or something I would just rent one. When I moved here I tried public transportation for about a month. I have owned cars ever since.

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    5. I guess you've always owned a vehicle. Lax to Sierra Madre in 4 hours is a decent time if you don't have the ability to drive your own vehicle. A Taxi takes 2 hours depending on traffic and costs $50-$70,shuttle about the same you did it for under $11.
      I take Gold line to Union station 35 cents (senior) bus to airport $9 often,takes about 2 hours at the most......saves me $50.

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    6. A car is high on the list of necessities in Southern California.

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    7. I didn't have a car and I don't have the perks you have. A taxi from lax to the canyon usually takes me an hour and costs more like $100

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    8. Most people don't commute by car because they want to. It's because they really don't have a choice. Despite all the hype from Metro. If they were a viable option, they wouldn't have to sell themselves so hard.

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    9. 9:09 Gold Line to Lax $ 1.75, to Union Station $9 lax shuttle to Airport no perks required allow 2 hours probably get to Lax in 1.5 hours easily.. save $80

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  4. We have other things to worry our tiny little brains, like the worst POTUS the country has ever seen. Sorry you don't move around the planet as quick as you'd like, maybe invest in those people-moving drone companies.

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    1. Bombshell Report Reveals Mitch McConnell Allowed Russia To Attack The US To Help Trump
      http://www.politicususa.com/2017/06/23/bombshell-report-reveals-mitch-mcconnell-allowed-russia-attack-trump.html

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    2. NBC: Coats Told House Intel Committee Trump Is Obsessed With Russia Probe
      http://talkingpointsmemo.com/livewire/dan-coats-trump-obsessed-russia

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    3. I have a brain like a steel trap
      Rusty and banned in 35 states

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    4. WaPo: CIA Intel Showed Putin Directly Ordered Operation To Get Trump Elected
      http://talkingpointsmemo.com/livewire/cia-intelligence-putin-ordered-campaign-help-trump-get-elected

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    5. Please try to stay on point, I know it is herd with your all consuming rage against our President....

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    6. It's the Tattler. There is no topic control here.

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  5. Sacramento wants to increase population density. This increase will generate more capital for them. We are being forced to live in an unsustainable life style while trying to exist under poor public transportation with jobs that keep moving and closing. Our very expensive transportation specialists have not spent wisely and we are still paying the price. With big government taking from the poor and giving to the rich we must try to survive under a system that if you don't have a means of income you will die from no medical attention. All these points are arguable but bottom line, is life going to get easier or are we going to die like rats on a sinking ship?

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    1. Die like rats while still voting for Democrats...they are pretty closely related...

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    2. 3:37 - don't you ever get tired of your BS?

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  6. Metro works well for some people's commutes, but isn't worth the time it takes for others'. Until the trains run more quickly, there's no way people will give up their cars.

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    1. And to think... one-hundred years ago a person could commute from the trolley at kersting court to downtown LA in less time than it takes at rush our today...

      They even had a burro taxi to get you to the canyon...

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    2. Yes. And the trolly would take you far more places.

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    3. I bet they had a banjo player on board for entertainment, too.

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    4. I like banjo.

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    5. Can still get banjos and burros just one mile east of Sierra Madre canyon at Adam's Pack Station- that place is a little known gem. Alas, since the fire, there's little left of the old antelope valley told road one used to be able to traverse to get the on foot.

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  7. The trolleys were by far, more efficient than the metro.
    The re-do of transportation has high overhead, little efficiency.

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  8. 8:04 Those people are people who run very precise lives. One and two parent households who are on tight schedules and have very little time to juggle between appointments. Nothing like having your job change to where you are now required to work 20 miles in a different direction because of companies that move or leave the area. I personally know a family that in the last 8 years has lived in 3 different states to try and make a living. This is a well degreed architectural engineer who has even worked for Disney.

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  9. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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    1. Your name calling gets tiresome.

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    2. Time out for trolls.

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  10. It's not about the money!

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  11. You live your whole life here and as time goes by the laws change in such a way you can no longer afford to live here.... great.

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    1. People often confuse capitalism with democracy

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  12. If the plan is laid out right by the time you and I die we will have nothing, question is will the state try to collect from the family. With current state of affairs everything is in question.

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  13. Trump says his "tapes" threat was to influence Comey's testimony.

    Isn't trying to influence testimony witness tampering?

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    1. Trump is more of an Al Capone than a Boris Badenov.

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    2. He's more like Saddam Hussein

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    3. Funny, 12:10! And so like that guy. He's so greedy and ignorant that he'll be his own undoing.

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  14. Lunch is over, time to get back to work. I feel lucky to have a job!

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  15. Bernie Sanders wife, possibly caught in money laundering scam. Burlinton College, went belly up.
    How could he "run" the country, but couldn't keep a land deal open as a building site?

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    1. You don't care about all of trump's crooked deals and flagrant nepotism but someone's wife bothers you?

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    2. Maybe 5:21 thinks Bernie's wife should have done like Donald and betrayed America for Russian cash?

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  16. Russia, Russia, Russia, where are you?
    Show "me" the proof

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    1. It is right in front of your gaping slack jawed face.

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