To waste billions and billions on transportation is really, to me, irresponsible.
The housing and transportation crisis are one in the same. If we had a transportation system that allowed people to walk/bike to both local services (cleaners, restaurant, market) and regional attractions (jobs, school, entertainment, etc.), we would have the capacity to handle increased housing density. Grade separated rail, frequent and/or predictable local buses, wide sidewalks, bike lanes, trees (for shade), street furniture, storefronts on the sidewalk, etc. they're all part of a great transportation system.
Make rapid lines everywhere that travel on these busways. Make a rapid map available at every stop. Make a zone like London where personal vehicles have to pay a steep parking fee. There. Done. Traffic solution solved.
There's a world of difference between London and LA. Congestion pricing is fair in London because they have a vast rapid transit system in the form of subways. People have an adequate alternative that competes and often beats the automobile. What's the alternative for a person that lives in East LA and works in Santa Monica?
Also, London's not a polycentric city like LA. If we implemented congestion pricing in Downtown LA, which only has somewhere between 7-12% of the region's jobs, we wouldn't even make a dent in traffic congestion and would probably just push a lot of it onto outskirt freeways - none of which are moving right now.
The reality is that most of our rapid and express bus lines are doing the job that is done by rail in other world cities across the globe. The results of us failing to heavily invest in rail for so long is evident. We can't wait any longer. We must invest now.
All these costly costly costly costly fucking expensive rail lines are ABSOLUTELY ludicrous in my mind when we have limited funds and a very very very serious problem that overshadows westsiders wanting to ride pretty trolleys.
You consider these rail lines costly? We have a 110 billion annual state budget, 21 billion dollar county budget and 6 billion dollar city budget, to say nothing of our 2.9 trillion dollar federal budget. Spending $650 million over 5 years for an Expo line is nothing. Indeed, if we are really in a crisis state it's not even a fraction for an adequate down payment. It's like tapping a pill to the chest of a man having a heart attack.
But the bigger issue is this fixation of capital investment instead of long-term return. What do you think the return on spending $30-40 billion to Get LA Moving
would be over the 100 year lifespan of the rail system? How much development, increased business, free time for system patrons to work and spend their money on leisure activities would it create? The economic return would be hundreds of times the initial $30-40 billion capital investment. They system would pay for itself probably within the decade after full operation. I love these two pictures below. It's of Silver Springs in Washington D.C. and it illustrates perfectly how well rail stimulates economic growth:
Post Rail Station:
I think it's fair to say the tax return from this station on the rail line far exceeds what today would be about $150 million/mile for grade-separated rail.
And lets make a highway comparison. How much would it cost us to create the Los Angeles County freeway network today? Let's not even discuss how many communities would we have to displace and how many others would we have to cut in half and how many others would we be increasing the risks of cancer and other health impacts. Let's just extrapolate from the $1 billion we're spending for a few miles for two carpool lanes on an existing freeway (the 405 HOV project). Its not ridiculous to suggest it would cost no less than a trillion dollars and it still wouldn't solve our mobility crisis. In fact, it would make it worse! Last weekend I went to Las Vegas. We left from Central LA and it took us 3 HOURS just to get to Fontana. We were in the carpool lane the whole time!
There are many reason grade separated mass transit is the silver bullet, but really it just comes down to simple math, displayed in this picture:
Simply no mode of transportation can move as many people per hour and do it fast as grade separated heavy rail. The rest of the world knows this. Other major cities in our country know this. It's time LA face reality and allow the results of our 50 year experiment with the automobile stand: worst traffic in the country, worst air in the country, longest home-work commute times in the country, communities with no centers, posterchild for sprawl, worst tourists ratings, diminished quality of life.
I think we need to figure out ways to build cheap dense housing that is also attractive (enough) in already existing tranist areas. Like Boyle Heights. Like around Macarthur park. Along Vermont. And most importantly, along the blue line. We really need to build MUCH denser housing between LA and LBC. This area has a dense population, but the housing stock is pitiful. We need to devise ways of building on top of existing structures (like strip malls) or making cheap tall buildings, or some other ingenious ways of adding housing density.
Yes, yes, yes, yes. You're preaching to the choir! Except for the strip malls. Tear those things down and replace them with mixed-use development that encourages walking.
I'm concerned that as LA becomes "hipper" and takes the place of NYC as the place where young urbanites go after college (this is already happening in a big way.. artists can't afford it at all anymore) we'll see a tremendous influx of white single residents gentrifying areas that need to stay dense and working-class. I'm trying to devise a way to make super small and super hip housing for all these creative types so they don't take up places where working class families can live. It's problems like these that will need to be addressed or our city will cease to be, as Tony says, "where the world comes together."
Mixed-use development around transit centers, with MAXIMUM parking per unit requirements and MINIMUM density requirements. See also inclusionary zoning, mixed-income housing and deed-restricted housing. Indeed this is the great question for development from a public policy standpoint in my opinion. How do we increase density/development in the city to attend to our housing crisis without completely gentrifying the entire urban core? I think we have to do what we can to reduce the real costs of developments, but we also need to be able to ensure that the housing is affordable for the existing community and provides an opportunity for ownership of people's of a certain income level and ground-floor retail that an average Joe can afford, not just a multi-national corportation.
I'm actually wondering, why can't we copy Hong Kong's minibuses?
they seat 16 people at a time, and they go very fast. The best part is, they don't have designated stops/stations... rather riders get on and off whereever they want and they call out to the driver when they need to get off, and call for one like one would call for a taxi...
They're just smaller and more agile on the road than huge buses, and much cheaper too.
They're cheap to buy, but expensive to operate. Each bus has an operator and a maintenance facility. More buses = more operators and larger maintenance facilities/staff. This is actually the strongest argument for rail over bus. A rail line has multiple times the capacity of a bus and can - if the capacity is maxed - cost less to operate than buses.
Why not have one route for all the major blvds in LA, and have them run very very often, like one very 5 mins?
We have buses that operate with that frequency on nearly two dozen streets during peak hours. On the major streets like Wilshire, Vermont, Western and Van Nuys, the buses are 60 feet long and almost always packed. If we can't handle the capacity right now with 60-footers, I don't see how we do it with 16 seat shuttles.
you wave for one right outside you're building (provided it's on a main street), then you ride it to the right major intersection, change to another minibus that goes the perpendicular direction, and get off when you're nearest to your destination...
I really think this will work much better than the predesignated and really really far apart bus stations...
Locals are about 1/5 to 1/4 mile apart, expresses are typically 3/4 to 1 mile apart.
I don't know... when I was living in Hong Kong the high cost of owning a car kept me using public transit, but now that I'm here in LA and got so used to driving point to point, it's really hard for me to even consider WALKING to a rail/bus station, wait FOREVER, sit next to some smelly nasty man, then get off and WALK another 10-15 mins to get to where I need to be.
This underscores the importance of rail:
1) Having stations that DIRECTLY serve (within a block to 1/4 mile) existing destinations (this is why lines in the middle of the freeway don't cut it)
2) Requiring density around rail stations, where appropriate.
The time issue has to do with current ridership. The trains/buses would come more frequently if more people used it. And how do you know the smelly man didn't think you were the one with the odor?
Besides, things are so spread out in LA it's nearly impossible to link them all up in a way that would be convenient for a majority of people. I just can't see it :-( Unless you can build as many subways as Tokyo...
the biggest mass transit successes, like NYC and HK, personally I think has geographically advantage and the density built in...
We share similarity with Tokyo in that we're both polycentric cities.
As for maping them out in a way they'd be convenient for a majority of people, how's this:
We have a housing crisis so we'll need to build more somewhere. Myself and others are simply suggesting that we be smart about it and place it around stations and on major transit corridors. This is the aspect of the map that the LA Times article didn't go into. Go to google maps and look at some of the corridors on the map. Streets like Vermont/Figueroa, Crenshaw/Hawthorne, Van Nuys, Wilshire, Whittier, Valley, Sherman Way etc. there is the space to increase density. On streets as wide as Vermont and Crenshaw there lies the potential to create a Champs-Elysee type boulevard to be the envy the world.
Look at the many malls on the map as well. That's deliberate, not just because they're existing major activity centers but because they have the land to dramatically add housing, while having the services already built in. You could probably fit between 4-10K units, a couple of schools and a fire department on and around Del Amo Mall.
Sure, a subway line on Wilshire is nice, but what if I need to get to Santa Monica/Sepulveda? Should I get off @ Wilshire/Sepulveda station and walk 20 mins south?
Just got to point out how funny this is because I actually added that intersection to the map (though it's not reflected yet). The former Westside Pavilion station is now Sepulveda Gateway on the Bronze line.
But to more broadly answer your question, yes, rail by itself is not going to take everyone from doorstep to doorstep. Rail is the backbone of a transit system not the end all be all. The local buses, bike lanes and pedestrian-oriented walking environment are what will make that 0.5-mile walk from Wilshire/Westwood to Sepulveda/Santa Monica harmonious.
he other thing, which I agree with dweebo2220, is that LA isn't dense enough to justify subways and light rails... we can never get as dense! Density to us is a horizontal 5 story apt building with 60 units
That's just not true today, nor will it be in the future. As I mentioned above, we're going to need to increase housing density and we'd be smart to do it around transit corridors. But the larger point is housing density ALONE isn't what justifies a rail station/line. Trip generators come in the form of entertainment destinations, major civic institutions, large schools and mostly jobs. Take a look at the projected 2030 housing and job density maps from the MTA and you'll see that even before considering that around many of these boulevards will come increased housing density (with ground floor retail activity), most of the corridors I identified on GLAM map already have the density to justify rail (the lines aren't mine):
Exactly.. Botox just doesn't get it. I can't understand why....
This is the question for me: is it fair to expect the existing residents to accept it? There are costs to ramming density down people's throats. With it comes the delays and the reactionary politics. These things are frequently not calculated in these discussions, but they are literally everything when it comes to development. We don't have the time to go 12 rounds in court with every community and create the type of political climate that puts NIMBYs in office. I think we need to be able to increase density without sacrificing mobility. That's through grade-separated rail.