Posts Tagged ‘transportation’

A Week of Public Transit in Los Angeles – Day 1 & 2

Coming into Los Angeles from Orange County, I decided to only take public transportation. Locals there were stunned. I heard various things, “Why!?”, “Good luck with that, man,” or blank stares. This was usually followed by, so what are you doing here. It’s been a while.

This is an important point because behavior and perspective toward transit is what will help people make changes. The truth is people like to get to and from work as quickly. Once affordable for a family in America, nearly all of them buy 2-3 cars. This choice is part of efficiency and convenience.

From my perspective, I want to see how LA treats its low income population, and the few thoughtful folks who see the point of not driving in southern California.

The trains from Irvine include Amtrak and the local Metro trains. Amtrak travels about 15 minutes ahead of the Metro system. Add all this time up and you can get home 20% to 30% faster. Google has a great system to show busses, options for walking certain distances, how many transfers are requires, and the travel time.

As I arrived I started hearing about Carmageddon. The closure of 405 was planned for the next weekend. This was poignant and timely. My choice was timed just right.

As I arrived downtown in Los Angeles, the train ride had been smooth and quick. I saw several backed up sections of the freeway heading north. Zipping past these stalled cars made me smile. I remember commuting back and forth from Mar Vista to Irvine for several months before moving within 15 minutes on my OC office.

The downtown station, Union, is connected to the bus terminal and the Metro train subway which travels to the San Fernando Valley, Pasadena, Inland Empire, Hollywood, and a yet completed section which heads toward the beach (via Culver City). This sounds promising.

I trotted over to the bus station with my 3 choices for bus routes and times printed from the internet while in Orange County. I’d never taken the busses or trains when living in LA, so this was all new to me.

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City’s Design, Transit System, can ease gas costs

This Article was reposted from US Today

By Larry Copeland, USA TODAY

Some cities in the USA are better positioned to deal with rising gas prices than others because of their design and transit systems, according to a national non-profit group that works to build stronger cities.

The key factor: whether residents have to drive everywhere, or have other options.

That’s according to CEOs for Cities, a Chicago-based network of civic, business, academic and philanthropic leaders seeking to build and sustain stronger cities for the future. Researchers analyzed federal government data on vehicle miles traveled in 51 metropolitan areas that have at least 1 million residents.

 

Image from USA Today

It’s a timely analysis: Gas prices have eased a bit in the past few days — to a national average of $3.60 for a gallon of regular unleaded Monday — but they are still 28% higher than a year ago.

 

· TRAFFIC: Metro areas’ congestion up 11%

The average American driver logs 25 miles per day. Motorists in compactly developed cities that have extensive transit systems can drive nearly 50% less.

The way to cut back on driving miles in a city isn’t by reducing commutes, says Carol “What adds up is all those small trips, which are much shorter and not as necessary,” she says. “The question is, how do we make the city a place where we don’t have to drive as much or as often?”

Edward McMahon, an expert on sustainable development at the Urban Land Institute (ULI) in Washington, D.C., says the analysis confirms a study done in 2009 on the relationship between urban design and driving.

“Most trips in a car are not back and forth to work,” he says. “Most trips — 80% to 85% — are lifestyle trips to the movies, the grocery store, taking the kids to school, and so on. What we found is if you live in a community where you can walk, ride a bike, take a short trip, those savings start to add up really quickly.”

McMahon says ULI examined automobile usage trends in two Maryland cities: Bethesda, a mixed-use community with transit, and Germantown, a traditional car-oriented suburb. “We found that in Bethesda, about 75% of trips during the day were in fact on city transit,” he says. “In Germantown, 90% of all trips were by car.”

Cities where people drive less tend to do well in three essential areas, Coletta says:

Land use. People running errands, such as to buy milk, can walk instead of getting in the car and having to park, Coletta says.

Urban design. Sidewalks or bike trails are designed in such a way that people want to walk.

Transportation. The public transportation network is extensive enough that residents have choices.

CEOs for Cities estimates that if every driver in those 51 metro areas cut their driving by just 1 mile a day, the savings on gas and other costs would total $29 billion a year.