Monday, January 25, 2010

There will never be enough $

The L.A. County Metropolitan Transit Authority (aka Metro) released its operating budget for the next fiscal year and anticipates the operating budget will be far below what it needs to be. The obvious solution for Metro is to reduce service and increase fares. Yet, one of the main reasons Metro does not raise more money from its fare box is that the system as it stands today is inefficient and difficult to use as a primary form of transit. The long wait at the bus stop and the number of transfers necessary to get from Point A to Point B is why ridership continues to decrease. The only people left to ride Metro are those who are forced to because they have no other option. There will not be an increase in ridership until Metro realizes that cutting service and increasing prices is not the only answer. How about optimizing a system that has not been radically changed in several decades? Why not work on creating an integrated Regional System where local city transit systems connect to a concentrated Metro System which serves Downtown, major commuter routes and other centers of L.A. life. There was going to be such a system, it was called Metro Connections, and it was basically shelved after barely even getting off the ground 2 years ago. I'm just hoping that with this new set of impending service cuts Metro finally does something about Express Route #460 which travels a whopping 27 miles each way from Downtown to Disneyland! I really would like to know what the ridership looks like on that gem as well as an explanation as to why the L.A. County Metro is paying for service that should be left to the Orange County Transit Authority. For more information please read the LA Times article.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Gold Line Drama

This past week in L.A. there's been a deluge of rain and wet weather, but luckily for this public transit commuter the actual trip time hasn't been severely affected. That is until this morning when around 4:00am a tree fell on the tracks and caused closures from Sierra Madre Villa Station to Southwest Museum Station. As my home station is Mission in South Pasadena, I knew I'd be in for an adventure to get to work. I assured the bearded man not to worry and feel free to take our one rain proof vehicle (Scooter in pouring rain didn't sound like a good idea). I departed at 8:10am hoping to at minimum catch Route 176 that travels to Figueroa and York and transfer to Route 81 that travels down Figueroa through Downtown L.A. Lucky for me I managed to walk right on the bridge bus transporting passengers between the stranded stations and Southwest Museum Station. For the 2 stops we visited (Highland Park and Southwest Museum) I found Metro staff to be informative and quickly moving people along as best as possible. I made it to work in about 50 minutes, or about 3 times as long as it would take on a normal operation day.

I did hear from other co-workers at stations farther northbound (Fillmore) there was little to no Metro presence or explanation regarding the situation. I understand that it is difficult to react quickly, but information is key. With the no-cost, instant ways to transmit timely information via Twitter, there is little excuse for Metro in not keeping their riders informed of service disruptions. I know a few months ago Metro was looking for a blogger to keep the public abreast of developing transit issues, but it appears they have a greater need for a Twitter account manager transmitting issues like today's in real time.

Luckily for me, close to 25% of my department takes the Gold Line to work so there was much sympathy and understanding when I arrived to work 30 minutes late. Looking forward to taking the Gold Line Eastside extension this afternoon to Mariachi Plaza for a michelada at Eastside Luv!