39 Replies to “Sunday Open Thread: Los Angeles, The Experiment”

  1. I’ve been hopping around latin countries for the last few months and I find it amazing how our southern neighbors manage to do a lot more with a lot less. I think the one major contributing factor to this efficiency is the size of their cars. Whether small vehicles are the result of an evolution of small streets or because of gas prices and general economics, it seems the miniaturization of the auto is the key to street reclamation and public transportation incorporation. A tax on large SUVs and Pickups and the reclamation of street space seems to be the only hope for LA. I see how Seattle’s Broadway added bike and streetcar lanes and I can’t help but think this has to become the norm. A forced imposition to smaller vehicles.

    I was also surprised by the negative reaction I got from the locals regarding BRT systems. Even though these cities originated the concept, they didn’t appear very high on them. I took one look at the airport BRT in Bogota and all I could think was thank god for Uber. As a visitor the Bogota BRT had the appeal of a 50 year old carnival ride.

    There is an extreme jealousy of most urban Colombians who feel that Medellin was blessed with Metro but other cities were stuck with BRTs. Cause and effect is always the question, but I can’t help but think that Metro has been playing a huge role in the new found prosperity of Medellin districts, whereas, because of its poor transpo choices, Bogota is becoming a colossal dud.

    1. Do they hate BRT because they can’t get around effectively, or because it has 1960s styling, or because the rich countries have rail?

      1. Suggestion, Mike. Take a trip to Bogota, and take a BRT ride. Then, your choice where, a ride with a similar passenger load of any caliber of railcar.

        Reason we’ve got such furious insistence that buses are as good or better than trains?we’ve never yet experienced a passenger load. What makes us cry for more seats, Bogota would cancel for lack of ridership.

        Mark

      2. Lack of efficiency and comfort. I saw how long it was taking to board BRT and became instantly concerned (single entry boarding for volume is very painful to watch especially after experiencing the Medellin Metros instantaneous loading of much larger volumes.) Once on-board you have no choice or flexibility to move about but are forced to sit on somebody’s lap or close to it. There was a general lack of directional maneuverability that I never felt on the crowded Metro. (heaven forbid you have luggage — don’t even try). Also, I found that Metro stations seemed to be more conveniently located, ie, no need to integrate the stations with the freeway traffic/overpasses like BRT required (I felt a void of not escaping traffic and being part of the urban experience). For Metro there was near by streets and overpasses but nothing to navigate of the magnitude the BRT stations required.

    2. Latin America missed the opportunity to build a passenger-oriented rail network when Europe did to all the cities where people lived, because its rail network was focused on bringing colonial commodities to the mother country and so was built only in the commodity-producing regions. So they resorted to buses for everything else because they couldn’t afford more rail lines. It’s one reason I never went to Mexico much because I’d grown up with only buses and didn’t want to visit a country with only buses. (Besides the Mexico metro, but I understand a large portion of the population can’t use the metro because it doesn’t go to their area.)

      1. Am I right that average big city in South America is relatively flat, with verywide streets? Like just about every place in the the United States except Seattle

        San Francisco confirms and refutes. Very steep hills, which prove that trolleybuses are good substitutes for cable cars.

        Though not bad to keep some of those on the streets. Good source of experience and information in case some foreign invader like the Bezosian Amazonians or the Uberians seize control.

        Was told some years ago that Andrew Hallidie, who borrowed the grip mechanism from the mines in the United Kingdom, installed brake shoe material that nobody’s been able to figure out since.

        http://www.cablecarmuseum.org/heritage.html

        Very likely Scotland has long been withholding critical mechanical information of all kinds, knowing that sooner or later England would Brexit the European Union. Leaving Their Lairdships tryin’ tae do the Industrial Revolution themselves.

        Local terrain also did MUNI and BART a favor. Between the hills, there are long, wide flat valleys perfect for line-haul transit.

        But since Brazil used to be a Portuguese possession, good comparison between terrain-relevant differences in one transit system each.

        Curitiba (Kooritcheeba) Brazil:
        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qQnPHVNsKHo

        Lisbon, Portugal
        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xG3Dosj-4T4

        So for Seattle, good idea to wait 500 years. Between earthquakes and tsunamis from Global Warming, we’ re going to need at least one more stakeholder input session before we finally decide whether to do West Seattle or Ballard/U-District first.

        Mark

    3. I think it is pretty common for people to complain about very successful, very busy transportation systems. People complain a lot about the New York Subway system, but if it didn’t have so many riders, it would run a lot more smoothly. I’m sure BART is very popular with the handful of commuters from the distance suburbs (who ride in relative comfort) but unpopular with folks crowding to get from one side of the Bay to the other. SkyTrain in Vancouver has to be one of the most successful mass transit projects in North America, but when the voters were given the chance to expand it (and replace one of the most popular bus lines in North America with a train) they voted against it. There are plenty of mass transit systems that are very hard to ride (and practically impossible with luggage) — there are systems that literally have crush loading — yet have to be considered extremely successful.

      TransMilenio is a massive system — it carries 2.2 million people a day. It is a big city, roughly the same size as Chicago (at least according to Wikipedia by Metro size). Yet this carries several times more than the ‘L’, even though the ‘L’ is clearly one of the most successful Metros in North America (carrying around 750,000 a day). The Medellin Metro does carry a lot of people (about a million) which is huge considering its size (about 20 miles). In contrast, the Bogota system is about 70 miles.

      In both cities the population has grown rapidly (unlike Chicago). This has undoubtedly put strain on both systems. But a 20 mile rail system, built relatively recently, in a smaller city, can handle it. What I wonder about is whether other riders — those outside the core area — are as happy with things in Medellin as someone who can walk to a BRT line in Bogota. Maybe Medellin is a little more concentrated, and traffic isn’t as bad there (I don’t know).

      I think either way, though, that type of growth is likely to put strain on both systems. If Medellin gets as big as Bogota is now, then additional train lines will need to be added, along with the maintenance that comes from an aging system. Then, in many ways, they will be like Bogota (have a system with lots of riders and lots of complaints).

      None of this means that Bogota shouldn’t have a Metro. It is long overdue (again, 2.2 million daily riders on their BRT system — that is enormous, and cries out for rail) but that doesn’t mean that if they had it, it would be any more popular. A lot really depends on the design and the amount of money you put into it. That determines the popularity (and ridership) of a system a lot more than mode.

    1. You’ve got the video, Sam. If you’d been driving, which presumes nobody on the hiring team reads Seattle Transit Blog, how would you have handled that situation? Some years ago, we lost a bus, more than one passenger if memory serves, and the driver over same course of events.

      Many reasonable demands for a clear plastic shield to protect the driver. But I think this reflex was out-weighed by what could happen if a driver needed to get out of the seat and couldn’t. I think that real defense would be best means in any public situation.

      Would’ve been at least two passengers within a couple feet of the woman. Since her attention was obviously elsewhere, like attacking the driver, a single person could have pulled her off her feet.

      Three more people could’ve sat on her or otherwise kept her on the floor ’til the driver could pull over safely when the bus cleared the bridge. We’re monkeys, meaning in-built reflex to danger is to form up, start screeching, and bite the attacker a lot.

      Fortunately, we’re not two feet high, so we don’t have to orally risk some blood-borne incurable diseases. Tempting, though. Because bus camera will definitely send the whole thing viral.

      Mark Dublin

  2. I appreciate how many Sunday posts are about successes and problems in other urban areas! It provides perspective and can be a foretelling of what not to do with our transit expansion. Thanks!

    LA has a similar tentacle issue to Seattle. There is political pressure to expand transit to areas further out for votes, where the places that would be the most productive for transit already support transit referenda. However, the funding system there is multi-modal in nature so that ballot measures have benefits to all modes. It’s also “third party” so that the operators don’t directly get to control the project list. Given how the last set of completed projects have been in less dense and less productive areas, I’m not surprised that ridership isn’t growing. Even the almost-completed Crenshaw project won’t be a big game changer. The two mentioned here – Downtown Connector and Purple Line project – will however be big game changers for transit use. I would also add the LAX people mover project (enabled by the Crenshaw project) as another big game changer.

    In monitoring transit in LA, I think it’s important to follow their current renaming proposals. They realize that too many lines means too many colors and that faded maps can create color confusion. They are looking at keeping colors but adding letters or numbers. Kudos to LA for using focus groups rather than stakeholder or board groups for input! Links to this are below.

    https://abc7.com/society/la-metro-may-move-away-from-color-coded-rail-lines/4288954/

    http://metro.legistar1.com/metro/attachments/86f48d4b-817c-4bc6-b747-cf74610d6834.pdf

    1. The second one is interesting; it’s the results of how easy different kinds of non-riders find the map and signage. It says Spanish-dominant speakers have a hard time understanding lettered lines, and speakers of languages with non-Latin alphabets also have trouble with them. How can Spanish speakers have trouble with lettered lines? Don’t their native cities have the same kinds of signage? And while I can’t guess how Arabic and Thai speakers perceive Latin latters, I’m sure Latin letters are much easier to recognize than Japanese kanji with so many intricate strokes. Russian doesn’t use the Latin alphabet but they’re perfectly comfortable with it.

      As for colors on faded maps, that sounds like more of a theoretical problem than an actual one. Colored lines have been around for a century. Has there ever been a case of a map fading so much that people can’t distinguish the lines or tell which ones are the current colors? Or is LA just going to throw colors away because of a theoretical problem.

      Moscow officially had named lines although the maps had a consistent color for each line, but a few years ago it switched to numbered lines, while still keeping the same colors. The reason seemed to be that numbers are easier than Cyrillic names for visitors, and it’s what Europe does and you have to keep up with the Joneses. It has also increased from eight lines when I was there to seventeen lines currently or under construction, and maybe they thought numbers are more manageable with that many lines.

      One thing I don’t like about LA’s numbers concept is that special lines are intermixed with the regular metro lines. Three in the middle have a square instead of a circle, which I assume means they’re commuter rail or BRT or something, and it leaves a gap in the metro line numbers, but then the intermediate numbers are in a separate section below it. That’s confusing. If they’re going to go with numbers they should try a system like Germany’s with a mode letter before the number. U1 = U-Bahn #1, S1 = S-Bahn #1. Russia effectively has the same thing although they don’t put it on all the signs. M1 = Metro #1, T1 (three-legged T) = Tramvay #1, T1 (one-legged T) = Trolleybus #1, A1 = Autobus #1. LA would have to figure out mode letters and that would get a bit difficult. (Should commuter trains be C for commuter, T for train, S for S-Bahn? I don’t know. But if they ever have trolleybuses they’ll need the T, since English has only one style of T.)

      1. I generally agree with you that a letter for technology and a number after that is best. I also like this because the ferries can be numbered too (as visitors often confuse Bremerton and Bainbridge Island). If every technology generally uses the same color, the letter becomes doubly-understood.

        Besides faded maps, it’s important to realize that there are many people who have some color-blindness. Green-gray seems indistinguishable to many — and both begin with the same letter so adding a single letter “G” doesn’t help at all. Even WMATA uses two letters for each color now.

        What doesn’t work is using mere colors by themselves. That’s what DC and LA and other places are logically walking away from — and ST Link and CT are increasingly embracing!

      2. “How can Spanish speakers have trouble with lettered lines?”

        There have been some unusual troubles in the Willamette Valley caused by providing “Spanish speakers” with translations when the language they actually speak is an Aztec derived language, and Spanish is their second language, and not especially well understood.

        This may be an affiliated problem.

      3. “Even WMATA uses two letters for each color now.”

        I noticed that in the slides. When I was there it was the whole color name on the trains and a colored dot on the signs. I really hope ST doesn’t go with single-letter color initials like some of the proposals were: a red circle with “R”, a green circle with “Green”, a blue circle with “Blue”. Those look too much like lettered lines, make one wonder what lines “A”, “C” and “D” are, and conflict with Metro RapidRide lines just outside the station.

      4. I’ve suggested that the BRT lines be lettered starting from Z and the rail lines count from A. But the Metro staff rejected that.

    2. One interesting thing about Moscow’s scheme is that most lines have a symbol of a colored horizontal line with a station dimple, but the two ring lines have a symbol of a swooshy oval. Pretty nifty.

    3. L. A. is a challenging area for transit because have relatively high density areas spread out over a huge area. It isn’t traditional low density sprawl, but high density sprawl (or least medium density sprawl). When I look at the census maps, it is a challenge to find census blocks with of really high density (over 100,000) but there are dozens if not hundreds of clusters over 25,000. Big groups in places like Culver City, Inglewood and Long Beach. They are just all over the place, really. As a result, it isn’t obvious to me how to draw the lines, and no matter how you draw them, the system will be huge. Even before you account for cost, it looks like a huge challenge. That being said,I see your point. It does look like it is going out (to relatively weak areas) before picking up some of the better options that are more central. That is common though (SkyTrain has extended way deep into the suburbs years before a line UBC will be built).

      In contrast, though, Seattle looks very easy from a subway standpoint. Just about all the density is right within the city proper. Most of the remaining density is on the East Side (that will be well served by East Link). Everything else — especially north and south — doesn’t really need a subway. It needs a good connection for suburban buses, but not a subway. That means that you don’t need to build miles and miles of track to have a first class system. Of course you also want all the little fixes and maybe even some big fixes to unclog the buses. But our problems aren’t as fundamentally difficult as what L. A. is facing, yet we are somehow making them so (by focusing on very inefficient projects).

      1. Montreal’s rubber-tired subways teach some excellent lessons in multilingual transit information. If I remember right, only words are station names, in the French of Quebec.

        Which English Canadians claim makes it incomprehensible to visitors from France, but since most American speak only one language at best I’d best shut up in the world’s every language, Ey?

        But maps and information were completely comprehensible. Bet there are a lot of examples online.

        Mark

      2. It’s the parking minimums. You can’t fit more than a medium number of people in an area if half of it is given over to parking. It also makes it not very walkable because you have to walk past all those parking spaces.

  3. LA’s problem stems mainly from an extremely common and seriously wrong idea. That transit’s duty is to “reduce congestion.” Our real purpose is to make sure that everybody stuck in it is there voluntarily.

    Neither we nor LA have yet reached the point where traffic will incurably paralyze itself so completely that even in LA, no more roadway can be built. Eventually, watching trains go by at sixty through a window going zero will finally turn persuasive.

    Like on MLK, LA transit has to overpass or undercut every major arterial, and close the rest to cross-traffic. A few years of crossing gates will be worth the usual problems with those things.

    Midblock pedestrians? Since jersey barriers and cyclone fences are so ugly, pretty sure the nearby California desert has enough cactus varieties to put transit on the front page of National Scenic Razor-sharp Thorned Plant magazine.

    Train coordination screw-ups? If DSTT is any guide, next big expenditure should go for coordinator and driver training. Because I think best way to keep transit right of way clear is to keep moving trains and buses in the way of everything else. By both facts-on-the-tracks and the law.

    Mark Dublin

    1. Hopefully people will realize even with that marketing that the benefit of the subways is to bypass the congestion, not to reduce it. You can’t reduce congestion without raising tolls, having high gas taxes, or allowing driving only for even/odd license plates.

    2. I’m so glad someone else noticed this. It’s a frustrating misconception and it’s remarkable that a UCLA professor has it wrong. I see it used sometimes to buy votes but it’ll only come back to haunt transit boosters trying to create new alternatives to roadway expansion for cars.

      1. I think this is one place that The Market should be allowed to do its job. Sooner or later no matter how much tax money hardcore motorists are willing to pay, or even have, every square inch of conceivable road right of way will eventually be covered by stationary cars.

        So I think transit’s best tactic is to start building miles-long lines of new developments under a variety of housing programs with reserved bus lanes going by, and through them.

        If there happens to be a light rail line going by under another program, cars capable of both street and cross-country operations could be introduced one or two places, just as examples.

        Like a picture is worth a thousand words (though Social Media makes trillions of useless ones into bargains) sight of new developments with fast moving buses and trains going by them will start to have its effect.

        I still don’t believe that rules forbidding transit to get into land-development are impregnable. Many years ago, Cleveland was there and done that. Also- to buy into an inexhaustible growth industry….might be time for those elegant funeral cars to make a comeback.

        Mark Dublin

  4. The Sound Transit Draft SIP has some rather aggressive ridership projections for Link on Page 65.

    Last full year of current operations (2020): Year-long average weekday boardings of 93,000.
    First full year of Northgate Link operations (2022): 147,000
    First full year of East Link operations, part-year Lynnwood and Federal Way operations (2024): 227,000.

    The 2020 projection is possible but optimistic, barring a recession, seeing how Link averaged above 80,000 during July and August this year, and might average 75,000 for the year. They may be planning on increases from a rail-only DSTT and more transfers at UW Station.

    147,000 boardings/day on a single-line between Northgate and Angle Lake would be amazing to see. It would be by far the highest-ridership single-line system in North America, and would exceed even multi-line light rail systems like Portland, Dallas, Denver and San Diego. Definitely will require all 4-car trains, and maybe a peak frequency increase.

    1. Wow! Interesting research!

      As much as I’d like to see higher ridership, I don’t see Northgate adding 54,000. That’s more than the line south of Downtown to the airport today. My guess is more like 120,000 in 2022.

      I also don’t see all three extensions (four if East Link is counted twice) adding 70,000 more. My guess is about 60,000 more or 180,000 total by 3024. Of course that means that Frderal Way and Lynnwood will be running by January 2024 and I don’t see that happening.

      1. I don’t see Northgate adding 54,000. That’s more than the line south of Downtown to the airport today.

        Sound Transit’s project page says it’ll be 14 minutes(!) Northgate to Downtown and 55 minutes Northgate to the airport. Those travel times are lopsided nearly 3:1.

        Downtown to Northgate will feel like light speed vs. Downtown to the airport. When people ride the Downtown-Northgate segment they will wonder why the entire system isn’t built that way.

      2. Downtown to Northgate will feel like light speed vs. Downtown to the airport. When people ride the Downtown-Northgate segment they will wonder why the entire system isn’t built that way.

        You mean they will wonder why they didn’t move the airport?

        I think the biggest thing people will wonder in the future is why there aren’t more stops. Why doesn’t First Hill have a stop, or why is it so hard to get a bus to Kirkland — that sort of thing.

      3. In the early Lynnwood Link open houses, several people were excited about an hour’s trip to the airport. The assumed a one-seat ride because that’s what it was at the time (and will be from 2024 to 2036). I hope they understand a train-to-train transfer is coming. But train-to-train transfers are supposed to be easy and quick, right? Sound Transit will make sure of that, right? You wouldn’t want people saying it’s easy to get to the airport on the subway in New York and Chicago and San Francisco but not in Seattle, right?

      4. You make a very logical point, Mike. Plus, the public will have 12+ years of direct Seatac service from Lynnwood and 19+ years from UW/Capitol Hill as well as 26+ years from parts of Downtown Seattle. They won’t remember how life was before Link and will think of this as a major degradation of service. They will be so outraged that they will even threaten the re-election of ST Board members at that time.

        With probably 250,000 daily system boardings years before the tunnel opens, transfer difficulty will be well known by any Link rider. The visionaries posting on the blog generally understand the issue now, but it will be a reality understood by a majority of riders who occasionally or regularly transfer.

        Even with cross-platform transfers involving a 25-foot walk, there will pushback. When transfers involve using two escalators — or worse an escalator up and stairs down, or even worse an elevator (deep tunnel stations) — the public pushback will multiply.

        A future ST Board is going to have to face this coming massive public discontent. It may be conveniently ignored by today’s leaders because the noise-making is low. That won’t be the case in a few years.

    2. None of that is too crazy. I could easily see how Northgate Link adds around 50,000, especially if all the express buses end there. It means we have a real system — one that serves a good chunk of the city, as well as the northern suburbs. Suddenly a trip from Northgate to Capitol Hill is very quick, day or night. It will probably lead to the biggest increase in overall transit ridership, just because trips that were terrible by bus before are suddenly very quick. It is basically what happened with UW Link, except with a lot more combinations (because we are adding three stations, and there are more existing stations). Meanwhile, all of those buses that come in from the north (and northeast) will be truncated at Northgate (probably). Link carries around 9,000 right now from up north, while the Community Transit and Metro express buses have to add up. I could see an increase, as the commute trip, and especially the reverse commute (or evening event trip) would be much faster. The idea of 35,000 due to the Seattle piece, and another 15,000 for the trips outside of Seattle doesn’t seem like a big stretch at all.

      I don’t think there will be a huge increase with Lynnwood Link, though. Folks in Snohomish County will already be riding (or not interested). There will be some increase of course, just not huge. The change in Swift might be the most significant piece, really, as the cross border part of SR 99 will have a good connection with Link (and the UW). Even if folks decide they want to stick with the E as a means to get downtown, this will add some riders. So I would say 10,000 at most. That would mean East Link would need ridership of over 60,000, which is the toughest part to swallow. Most of the other numbers are just fudged upwards, but that would represent a huge increase in travel between Bellevue and downtown Seattle (or an even bigger increase in ridership within the East Side). I know big improvements can do that, but that is more than doubling the current ridership, and we haven’t seen that in any part of our system so far. Getting from Capitol Hill to the UW or downtown is way faster, but that doesn’t mean we have doubled transit ridership there.

      Really hard to say, though. There is enough wiggle room with all of the numbers to see them making the target, or falling flat by a large amount. A lot depends on truncations (e. g. sending all the 520 buses to the UW, which they aren’t willing to do now, even at rush hour, when it makes the most sense). It is easy to see how all the express buses will be truncated at Northgate and the I-90 buses truncated at Mercer Island, but 520 is a tougher one to predict. As mentioned, a lot also depends on what happens in the local economy.

      1. We could call this the reconquista of Shoreline and Lynnwood, if they become effectively a part of Seattle in terms of people’s trips and activities. Annexation went up to 145th and it would have gone further as those areas developed,except the 1950s suburban “local control” movement and the new threat of desegregational school busing blocked further annexations.

    3. The comment about the highest ridership single line system in North America isn’t quite correct. In Vancouver the line from Downtown to Richmond and the airport is physically and technically distinct from the rest of the Skytrain system, and that now has around 150,000 weekday boardings.

      1. SkyTrain has more than one line in its system. The technology might be slightly different but they still feed passengers to each other as any system does.

        It would be like trying to say the London Underground Piccadilly Line wasn’t actually part of the London Underground because the trains are smaller. It’s just as much a part of the network as any other part.

        The same goes for Boaton’s green line. At the very least it feeds into the orange line subway.

        Arguably, with the streetcars, Link isn’t a single line system except the tickets aren’t interchangeable so it really isn’t the same system. It’s not like SkyTrain or any other system where any ticket purchased entering is good for the other two lines, so they aren’t part of the system.

  5. While it probably does not merit the increased cost, it’s not strictly true that a West Seattle tunnel has absolutely no advantages vis-à-vis a completely elevated route, as some have claimed. Due to the elevation change of over 200′ from Delridge to the Junction, an elevated route would have a very high guideway along Delridge Way and Genesee Street, as you can see from the visualizations published by Sound Transit:

    https://wsblink.participate.online/Media/Default/images/AE_0036_17_Visualization_Booklet_20180905_rsz.pdf

    Eyeballing it, the Delridge station is probably elevated around 80′ in the elevated alternative and 30′ in the tunneled alternative. In the former alternative the guideway is well over 100′ tall along Genesee to climb up the extremely steep grade to Avalon. The difference in elevation at the Delridge station amounts to at least a modest time penalty for vertical conveyance, although, again, it is debatable whether it is worth the hundreds of millions in added cost to remedy this.

    1. Interesting. I think it goes back to what I wrote earlier. For Ballard, the more expensive alternatives are clearly worse (which is why it would be extraordinarily bad for them to go that route). For West Seattle, that isn’t the case (they are just a lot more expensive). I figured they were the same, but you make a good case for them being better, especially for what will certainly be a big chunk of the ridership (those that transfer from Delridge). I wonder though, what the other stations are supposed to be like. I ask because I can’t seem to eyeball it that well. Are the tunnel stations farther from the surface than the elevated options?

      1. I’m not sure ST has published any information about the depth of stations in a West Seattle tunnel, and the Avalon station isn’t even included in the visualizations as far as I can tell. It could certainly be the case that the Avalon and Junction stations could be deeper than an elevated guideway would be tall, which would negate the advantage of a lower station at Delridge.

        Just spitballing: if the portal is close to Avalon Way I would think that the Avalon station wouldn’t be especially deep. I don’t know enough about light rail engineering to speculate about the Junction station, but it looks like there is about another 100′ elevation gain from Avalon to the Junction so I suppose that it can remain at the same depth if the track ascends at about a 4% grade (assuming a half mile of track between the two stations). Something with more engineering experience might able to give a more definitive answer.

      2. Yeah, I was just assuming that the Avalon station would be close to the surface, while the Junction station would be deep. But it would be nice if they listed the depth and height for the various station proposals. People are asked to comment, yet we have no idea of issues like this that are very important on a day to day basis for a rider.

  6. Seat,tle isn’t mono-centric, but the core is relatively much stronger than Downtown LA. This is despite recent growth in Downtown LA.

    The polycentric nature of the LA region makes it tough to serve with transit. William Fulton correctly characterizes LA as “dense sprawl.” The rail network is starting to serve Downtown LA pretty well from most directions. This will improve further when the Regional Connector and the Purple Line extensions (it’s being built in phases) are opened.

    But it’s a largely radial network in a county where both denser housing and jobs are spread out. Even with the massive rail expansion that LA Metro is now building, there are a lot of trips that won’t be served by rail. Or they’ll be served by rail in one direction, but not others. The Expo Line, for example, goes east-west to the business parks in eastern Santa Monica, but are no help getting there from the south. This means that a lot of transit riders will continue to be on buses. As Alyssa Walker said, those bus trips need to be a lot faster, a lot more reliable, a lot better.

    Transit advocates and planners mostly know that reducing congestion isn’t the main reason to expand transit. But it’s an argument that sells, which is really important given that California taxation measures need to get at least 2/3.

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