When I was at UCLA for my urban planning master’s, one of my professors told us that whenever you are provided with a potential solution, you have to ask if that solution solves the problem you set out to solve. A post by Alexander Friedman on Streetsblog LA makes a decent argument to bring back trolley buses – electric buses powered by overhead wires – to Los Angeles as a way to provide a temporary fix to LA’s transit woes. While I have no problem with trolley buses given their great environmental benefits and long-term savings, I believe Mr. Freidman overestimates the effect trolley buses have on transit ridership and their benefits to overall transit service. In short, while trolley buses are filled with numerous benefits as described in Mr. Friedman’s op-ed, they would not solve the underlying problem he set out to solve, which is poor transit service.
Posts Tagged ‘Los Angeles’
Posted by Roobs on April 22, 2013
Posted by Roobs on February 14, 2013
The other day, someone asked me what is a “skyscraper”. Really. I mean, they knew conceptually what a skyscraper was (or is), but they asked me for a definition of a skyscraper since I’m an urban planner. Who cares, you ask? Well, this all stems from the current battle for short hairs that is the LA mayoral race. What exactly is a skyscraper and is Eric Garcetti even really responsible for Hollywood’s turn-around?
Posted by Roobs on July 10, 2012
During much of the debate leading up to and even during last week’s vote to fund HSR, many legislators and critics of HSR either implicitly or outright insult the Central Valley as a poor place to begin construction of the nation’s most ambitious infrastructure project. After the years of listening and responding to HSR critics’ arguments, I really am simply and unquestionably irritated and downright tired their statements on the Central Valley. I have to force myself at times not to just go off on many of these individuals who fancy themselves experts on planning issues – many the most outspoken are those who have no background in the subject at all. But specifically regarding the Central Valley, I think they just need to stop. Just stop talking. As native son of California’s (and arguably the country’s) most productive agricultural region, catchphrases like “train to nowhere”, the Norcal-Socal centric statements that “no one will ride it between Madera and Bakersfield”, and that it should go along Interstate 5 as opposed to State Route 99, are just downright offensive to all residents of the Central Valley. There are many reasons why the Central Valley is an excellent place to begin construction. Here are just a few. Read the rest of this entry »
Posted by Roobs on May 30, 2012
Los Angeles today exists as a truly polycentric city with multiple, often competing job and activity centers. Downtown Los Angeles, Wilshire Center, Miracle Mile, Century City and Westwood are often pulling workers from across the region and competing with one another, let alone the other cities within Los Angeles County. Unfortunately, the once expansive rail network that helped fuel Los Angeles horizontal expansion is gone, leaving the existing transit system struggling to deal with the dense, urban sprawl that defines Los Angeles. In an attempt to improve the quality of transit (and life) in Los Angeles, LA Metro has been aggressively expanding its rail network – rail routes once operated as the early Red Car system – and pursuing transit-oriented developments around its new train stations. But due to Los Angeles unique urban form, TODs spread throughout the public transportation system risk counteracting the benefits of each other and only preserving the urban form that contributes to its transit woes. The reason is in the unique urban form of Los Angeles and the necessary requirements to create a successful TOD.
Posted by Roobs on January 19, 2012
I have branched out and created a new blog:
It is a project I have been thinking about for the past several years and my move to Los Angeles afforded me the opportunity. The site is devoted to bringing Los Angeles residents and visitors a list of great bars and clubs easily accessibly via LA Metro bus and rail service. Better yet, it is provided by those who know how to navigate a transit system on their way to alcohol: urban planners. The database at present includes five bars in the Los Angeles area and will be adding more soon! Readers are encouraged to provide their own reviews of their favorite transit-accessible bars and clubs. So have at it!
Please visit my new site and enjoy the reviews. And for your next night out, make sure to enjoy the uncomplicated benefits of public transit.
Know Metro. Love Metro. Go Metro!
Disclaimer: All views expressed in the blog, The Sauce, are solely those of the authors. The Sauce is in no way affiliated or an official project of the Los Angeles Metropolitan Transportation Authority or the blog, The Source.
Posted by Roobs on July 9, 2011
Over the past few months, several of my friends have come and asked me to explain HOV (High Occupancy Vehicle) lanes, commonly referred to as carpool lanes and their tolled cousins, HOT (T=Toll) lanes. They ask me to explain them because in their view, they don’t do anything except take away a lane of traffic from everyone else, discriminate, or double tax the user. Additionally, they contend that HOV/HOT lanes aren’t that much better at reducing congestion because they usually see them moving at a similar speed as normal lanes. They don’t understand why planners want to impose more of these lanes on freeways. To answer this isn’t simple. It requires the average person to conceptualize a complicated system of interplaying transactions to show how HOV and HOT lanes actually work. I will, nonetheless, give it a shot. First, I will explain the way HOV and HOT lanes work, then I will go over the HOV, HOT lane experience in Los Angeles County and then address the two concerns of critics: double taxation and inequitable taxation.
Posted by Roobs on June 15, 2011
I recently completed my first year at UCLA’s Urban & Regional Planning program. In one of my final lectures in a class discussing transportation, land use and urban form, my professor led me to consider one question: What if tomorrow all cars were zero emission. More specifically, how would this affect the arguments in favor of dense, mixed-use developments? It’s an interesting scenario to consider and one that asks us as planners and environmentalists to review the ambitions of our two goals.
Posted by Roobs on May 21, 2011
What does the Brookings Institute’s Study on Transit & Jobs Really Tell Us?
On May 12, 2011, the Brookings Institute released a first-of-its-kind study that looked at job accessibility in metropolitan areas via transit. This exhaustive study took on the issue of job sprawl – the decentralization of jobs from the traditional downtown or urban core and out into the suburbs – and found that Western US cities’ transit systems, such as Los Angeles and Honolulu, have better job accessibility than their compact East Coast counterparts. The reason is because Western cities’ transit systems were designed post-automobile. That is to say, Western transit systems were designed to connect suburbs to central cities.
In summary, the Brookings study made the following conclusions:
- Nearly 70% of large metropolitan residents live in neighborhoods with access to transit service of some kind. This includes bus and light rail.
- In neighborhoods covered by transit, morning rush hour service occurs about once every 10 minutes for the typical metropolitan commuter.
- The typical metropolitan resident can reach about 30% of jobs in their metropolitan area via transit in 90 minutes.
- About one-quarter of jobs in low- and middle-skill industries are accessible via transit within 90 minutes for the typical metropolitan commuter, compared to one-third of jobs in high-skill industries.
- Fifteen of the 20 metro areas that rank highest on a combined score of transit coverage and job access are in the Western US and 15 of the 20 metro areas that rank lowest are in the Southern US.
Download the Study Here!
The Brookings study did not do one thing that has some critics crying foul. The study did not look at performance as a function of ridership. Because the study ignored ridership, instead to focus on job accessibility, does that make the study flawed? Are its conclusions and ranking of transit systems somehow incorrect because of it? Some say yes. I say no.
Posted in Economic Development, Urban Planning | Tagged: Bay Area, Brookings Institute, California, Los Angeles, Oakland, San Francisco, San Jose, Transportation, Urban Design, VTA | Leave a Comment »