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I Like Trains, but riders – not so much

Men like trains. I think its in our genes. I actually hope the LA Metro train will come by and I’ll have to wait at the level crossing and watch it pass. (OK, maybe some women like trains, too, I just don’t know any.) Lately my lyin’ eyes have told me that something was wrong.  As the trains pass, even at rush hours, they are empty.

Barbara Chance has been telling me for decades that the percentage of people riding rapid transit hasn’t changed for what, 50 years. My guess is that she is right. Witness the headline in today’s LA Times:

Ridership on Metro fell to the lowest level in more than a decade last year

Wow! I told you that you could learn all you needed by just looking out the window.

The question, of course, is: Why?  According to that fountain of all knowledge, LA’s broadsheet daily, the answer is (emphasis mine):

Experts and officials have no firm answers but have attributed the decline to a combination of factors, including changes to immigration policy, competition from Uber and Lyft and more people buying cars — as well as perceived problems with existing transit service and security.

Find the full article here.

Well what do you know. More people are buying cars. Wonder where they are going to park them. LA (and the Feds) is investing a billion dollars a mile to build rapid transit so I can have fun watching it roll by. Oh, it’s great too to drive to a station and ride to Santa Monica to the beach or Downtown to a show. But taking traffic from the freeway, not so much.

Cities like LA don’t lend themselves to rapid transit. It’s a first mile/last mile problem. The nearest station is a mile from my office, and a mile from my house. At best that’s a 20-minute walk on each end.

A few months ago, a reporter for the Times (and a proponent of mass transit) tested the new Expo line. She took Uber to the station, took the train to the station nearest her office, then walked to her desk. It took 30 minutes longer than driving, even taking into consideration the traffic on the 405 and 10.  She went back to driving.

Maybe our betters should rethink just how to get people out of cars and into other types of transportation. Simply providing an alternative, even a very expensive one, doesn’t seem to be working. Don’t close your parking structure just yet.

Just Sayin

JVH

 

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