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.
Posts Tagged ‘San Francisco’
Posted by Roobs on April 22, 2013
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 August 16, 2011
Yesterday, The San Francisco Bay Area Rapid Transit authority (aka: BART) did the world a public service. By shutting down stations, previously shutting down cell and data services and all in all pissing people off, it showed other government agencies how NOT to handle a civic protest. In other words, had BART demonstrated some very basic common sense in crisis management, or at the very least spent the last decade watching protests around the world, it would have known preventing a planned protest from happening isn’t the best way to calm people down.
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 »
Posted by Roobs on March 9, 2011
Professor Brian Taylor on the necessary skills of driving a bus:
“Driving a bus in San Francisco is truly amazing. This takes some great skill. I once saw a Muni bus driver at a bus rodeo broad slide his bus at 70 mph so it would line up perfectly with the curb. Meanwhile the suburban drivers were just mowing people cut-outs over. It was jaw dropping!”
Posted by Roobs on December 13, 2010
In the great battle between San Francisco and Los Angeles, LA is the butt of many jokes when it comes to urban planning. But they are more often than not ill comparisons.
On a sunny yet cool weekend in Berkeley, CA, my mother, friends and I began to pack up my long time college apartment at the corner of Blake St. and Ellsworth St. I had lived in this apartment for five years; from my sophomore year at UC Berkeley to my time working as a paralegal at a law firm in Emeryville. Sure, after a while, I got tired of my neighborhood. The constant trampling of drunken college students who were just one shot away from alcohol poisoning was beginning to become tiresome. But I loved my apartment itself and the great view of the Golden Gate bridge it offered from my floor to ceiling sliding glass window. But that was all over now.
After graduation, I found my true professional joy working in the field of urban planning. And come early summer, I accepted admission into UCLA’s masters of urban and regional planning program. This meant I was to move to Los Angeles, a city I have spent a great deal of time in and enjoyed but, nevertheless, often maligned and teased, if not lovingly.
We all know the stereotypes of Los Angeles: Its a culture-less wasteland yet the capitol of car-culture in America; representing everything that is wrong with urban sprawl. Not only can you NOT walk in Los Angeles but nobody does. Transit is incomplete and is only for poor people, anyway. The list goes on but you get the picture. Columnists like Steve Rubenstein at the San Francisco Chronicle, fully displaying the semi-serious battle between Northern and Southern California, gets his jollies from railing on America’s second largest city:
Contrary to popular notion, it’s legal to walk in Los Angeles. In fact, some people walk in L.A. by choice, it being the accepted means of getting to and from a parked car.
Is all this teasery true? Is Los Angeles the glowing city on a hill in the middle of a parking lot? My quick answer is… yes and no. But some qualifiers are definitely needed. But let’s get some things straight.
Posted by Roobs on November 11, 2010
Clipper Cards as Credit Cards.
This has been floating around the Bay Area and transportation-focused blogosphere for a few days and I am no exception. Why? Because it’s funny.
The Bay Area transportation system has been ripe with logistical problems for travelers in the past. Multiple transit agencies operate around the Bay Area with different fare-collection methods. BART, SF Muni, AC Transit and Caltrain all have their own fare system and collect via their own tickets. In the past you would have to walk around with multiple tickets filled with money if you needed to transfer from system to system.
Well, to solve that, all these agencies agreed to go with a single card called “Clipper”–referencing the Clipper ships that used to be in the SF Bay. It’s basically a prepaid card that can be used at all transit agencies turnstyles. As clipper advertises: “All your transportation in one card”. And it’s true and it works decently well…. until now.
Posted by Roobs on September 10, 2010
Just the other day at the website: Next American City, Yonah Freemark, an Urban Leaders Fellow, sponsored by the Rockefeller Foundation, wrote a column talking about one of my favorite subjects: The East Bay Bus Rapid Transit project. As readers will have figured out, I am very much in favor of this project and have written two posts about the issue: Why Berkeley is Wrong on BRT and Why Councilman Arreguin is Wrong on BRT
I take issue with Freemark’s columns, specifically his most recent entitled “Opposition to a Bus Rapid Transit System is More than Just NIMBYism“. The biggest and most frustrating part is that many of the arguments against BRT in the East Bay are either false or based off false assumptions that do nothing to further legitimate debate.
In his three part column (currently at two), Freemark quotes former Berkeley Willard Neighborhood Association president, Vince Casalaina and both seem to suggest their biggest concern is with greenhouse gases.
“If you’re going to put a quarter of a billion dollars into it,” he said, “It better do something about greenhouse gases.” Casalaina points out that the diesel bus line could actually reduce ridership on the mostly parallel BART rail line, which is electrically powered and therefore arguably cleaner.”
The part about this criticism I never truly understood is that, in the same breadth that many critics of BRT use to say that they care about the amount of greenhouse gas emissions, they also say the one thing they are most afraid of losing is “driving lanes”, the ability to drive your car and park when going to the stores they are trying to protect.
Posted in Politics, Urban Planning | Tagged: AC Transit, Berkeley, BRT, Bus Rapid Transit, East Bay, Jesse Arreguin, Next American City, NIMBY, Oakland, San Francisco, San Leandro, Telegraph, Yonah Freemark | Leave a Comment »