LA traffic is getting worse. So what is it going to take to get you out of your car and onto a bus or train?
Metro has a few ideas, including two that may not please Angelenos: one is a charge on ride-hailing services like Uber and Lyft, and e-scooters like Bird. The other is congestion pricing, which would charge drivers for driving on peak routes at peak times.
These are part of a package of strategies the Metro board will consider this Thursday.
The package, grandly entitled “The Re-imagining of LA County: Mobility, Equity, and the Environment,” started as a way to raise revenues to speed up 28 transit improvement projects in time for the 2028 Olympics.
But it’s grown into a bigger effort, says Metro Chief Phil Washington: “to really get to try to eradicate congestion in L.A. County... also to reduce our carbon footprint, deal with climate issues, to enhance and increase frequency on transit.”
Metro is looking at several options, including ad sponsorship, public-private partnerships, and new express lanes, along with congestion pricing and the added fee to ride-hailing services.
Even as congestion gets worse, however, Angelenos are still choosing to get around by car. Ridership numbers on mass transit, especially buses, has been dropping since 2014.
DnA talks with representatives of Metro, Angeleno commuters, transportation experts and Culver City’s mayor, in a bid to find out what might effectively disincentivize driving -- and make people actively want to ride the train or bus.
Answers include better security on buses and trains, shaded bus stops, and more lively stations and streets that surround them.
“It's not enough to just have a rail stop or a bus stop,” says UCLA transportation expert Michael Manville. “Virtually every transit trip that's taken is a walk trip before that and if you don't make it appealing or safe to walk to the transit stop then people are not going to ride transit.”
Metro does not allow commerce at the stations themselves -- meaning none of the coffee, newspaper and flower vendors that are a feature of many transit hubs worldwide.
But it is starting to look at ways to animate the areas around stations. For example, they are piloting a marketplace for licensed vendors on the plaza at the Westlake/MacArthur Park Station.
And they are encouraging housing and businesses on land near stations, all aimed at attracting people to a pedestrian-based lifestyle.
The show concludes with a taste of what this might look like. Culver City Mayor Thomas Small introduces Ivy Station, a development adjacent to his city’s Expo Line station. The complex of apartments, hotels, stores and offices is under construction now. In Small’s words, it is a "true transit-oriented project designed in conjunction with the train station. The whole profile of the project is turned toward the people coming from the train and going to the train. It's very much aware of being built for transit riders.”