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Living Car Free Do you live car free or car light? Do you prefer to use alternative transportation (bicycles, walking, other human-powered or public transportation) for everyday activities whenever possible? Discuss your lifestyle here.

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Old 03-21-11, 12:43 PM   #1
folder fanatic
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The Harshest Cuts Yet To Be Done-To People That Cannot Avoid Them By Driving

As many of you know (and can read on the left side of my posts), that I live in the Southern California area. We are noted not only for the nice weather, but our car-centric lifestyle and overly dependence on cars here. But here is a little secret: many people who drive or own a car or two, or especially people who choose to live a car free life by force or choice also live here. That means that public transit is used here. The question is how much and by whom:

"....But Metro officials say the restrictions forced them to offer an artificially high level of service that they can no longer afford. Metro Chief Executive Arthur Leahy pointed to "astonishingly low" ridership levels on buses headed into downtown L.A. each morning, and noted that the bus system operates at about 42% capacity overall.....Leahy, who began his career as a bus operator, said the decree forced Metro to add buses "without regard to whether it was better service or properly managed." Along with the cuts, his plans also call for enhanced service on more than a dozen lines....The latest changes also call for an increase in the buses' load factor from 1.2 to 1.3, meaning that a 40-seat bus would carry a maximum of 52 passengers, instead of the 48 it carries now. The plan would cut Metro's net operating costs by an estimated $23 million and allow the agency to better maintain its bus fleet, something Leahy said has been put on the backburner......Some bus riders and their advocates are skeptical, saying the plans show the MTA wants to provide less service to bus riders at the same time as it is radically expanding its rail network. The MTA opened an East L.A. rail line in 2009, and transit officials are now working to complete two more, the Expo Line and an extension of the Gold Line in the San Gabriel Valley. Several other lines — most notably the Westside subway — are in the planning stages....."The reality is that as soon as the sun set on the consent decree, the MTA went back to business as usual," Martinez said. "They are once again forgetting about the people who are most in need...."-http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-3-20-metro-buses-20110320,0,6432780.story

What that means for maintaining choice in such an extreme environment? It means ride my bikes more and drive if needed. I am sure I won't be alone on the street anymore.
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Old 03-21-11, 01:07 PM   #2
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Last June, Regional Transit made severe cuts to bus and light rail service here. No buses or trains run after 9 PM now, so people who work swing or graveyard shift or go to school at night are screwed unless they ride a bike or drive.
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Old 03-21-11, 01:56 PM   #3
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It sounds like the MTA (and California transit in general) is totally corrupt, inefficient and in need of drastic reforms. In fact, the MTA sounds like a Third World level operation rather than a transit system for a irst rate city in the developed world. This elitist nonsense about cutting basic bus service in order to provide premium train service for a small number of more affluent suburban customers is just one example of the rampant corruption in California transit.

With that in mind, it makes sense to turn to the World Bank for advice on reforming the LA system. Indeed, the World Bank doesw have a comprehensive website devoted to the topic of bus system reform. All California taxpayers should chck out this site. It includes a lot of technical information on bus system operations, and an interactive tool to help you decide what type of reform you would advocate:

Urban Bus Tool Kit
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Old 03-21-11, 03:57 PM   #4
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It's an easy fix,make the people,that make the rules,ride the bus for a month or two.The powers that be won't get out of their cars to get a donut.

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Old 03-21-11, 04:21 PM   #5
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From my experiance the distances in So Cal are really prohibitive. But they need to do something, the travel times there are just unacceptable. What a waist of productivity and money.

I really thing the LA metro should never have become one big metro but several cities next to eachother. It kind of is, but it also kind of isnt.

I have some family in east LA and when I went to visit you get to see really how many cars are there. Because of the price of housing alot of families get a big house and all live together 8-10 people. And when you drive alot of residential streets in the area you will see one house with 5-10 cars, parked all over the place. Ever time I saw that I though, dang think of how much money that costs them.

East LA metro link (train) to downtown is what an hour and a half now?
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Old 03-21-11, 06:37 PM   #6
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I have some family in east LA and when I went to visit you get to see really how many cars are there. Because of the price of housing alot of families get a big house and all live together 8-10 people. And when you drive alot of residential streets in the area you will see one house with 5-10 cars, parked all over the place. Ever time I saw that I though, dang think of how much money that costs them.
Yes; but, you were dead on with the line, "because of the price of housing." This is why they have to live so far from work. Add to that the temporary nature of most jobs which makes it unreasonable for people to move closer to work. After all, it makes no sense to move closer to work if you have no idea where work will be next month.

The first fix has to be a focus on national Job security. That would give people the ability to plan and work to resolve the other problems. People can not devote themselves to fixing problems, like long commutes,when the prevailing mindset is, "everything is temporary."
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Old 03-21-11, 06:59 PM   #7
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Yes; but, you were dead on with the line, "because of the price of housing." This is why they have to live so far from work. Add to that the temporary nature of most jobs which makes it unreasonable for people to move closer to work. After all, it makes no sense to move closer to work if you have no idea where work will be next month.

The first fix has to be a focus on national Job security. That would give people the ability to plan and work to resolve the other problems. People can not devote themselves to fixing problems, like long commutes,when the prevailing mindset is, "everything is temporary."
I agree with this ^^^^

I have ridden 5 companies into bankruptcy/dissolution/overseas relocation in the past 30 years, good thing I am willing to travel for work or I would have been unemployed more than not. My current commute is 43 miles one way and requires an additional 600 miles of driving a week at the moment

There is no thing as a secure job anymore that I am aware of. I have friends that work for big name Fortune 500 companies that have had the rug pulled out from under them in a variety of ways, plants closed with little warning and the only job available requires relocation and a pay cut. Another one had his department eliminated and they offered him a job at a plant on the other side of the county 45 miles away and no relocation help or pay increase to cover the cost of the brutal commute.

Given the current economic climate along with a lot of other things that are going on in the world I don't know if we will ever see a truly stable employment environment again. Unless you count subsistence living, which is a full time job in itself.

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Last edited by wahoonc; 03-21-11 at 07:02 PM.
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Old 03-21-11, 07:10 PM   #8
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As many of you know (and can read on the left side of my posts), that I live in the Southern California area. We are noted not only for the nice weather, but our car-centric lifestyle and overly dependence on cars here. But here is a little secret: many people who drive or own a car or two, or especially people who choose to live a car free life by force or choice also live here. That means that public transit is used here. The question is how much and by whom:

"....But Metro officials say the restrictions forced them to offer an artificially high level of service that they can no longer afford. Metro Chief Executive Arthur Leahy pointed to "astonishingly low" ridership levels on buses headed into downtown L.A. each morning, and noted that the bus system operates at about 42% capacity overall.....Leahy, who began his career as a bus operator, said the decree forced Metro to add buses "without regard to whether it was better service or properly managed." Along with the cuts, his plans also call for enhanced service on more than a dozen lines....The latest changes also call for an increase in the buses' load factor from 1.2 to 1.3, meaning that a 40-seat bus would carry a maximum of 52 passengers, instead of the 48 it carries now. The plan would cut Metro's net operating costs by an estimated $23 million and allow the agency to better maintain its bus fleet, something Leahy said has been put on the backburner......Some bus riders and their advocates are skeptical, saying the plans show the MTA wants to provide less service to bus riders at the same time as it is radically expanding its rail network. The MTA opened an East L.A. rail line in 2009, and transit officials are now working to complete two more, the Expo Line and an extension of the Gold Line in the San Gabriel Valley. Several other lines most notably the Westside subway are in the planning stages....."The reality is that as soon as the sun set on the consent decree, the MTA went back to business as usual," Martinez said. "They are once again forgetting about the people who are most in need...."-http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-3-20-metro-buses-20110320,0,6432780.story

What that means for maintaining choice in such an extreme environment? It means ride my bikes more and drive if needed. I am sure I won't be alone on the street anymore.
LA like a lot of cities are redirecting their transit subsidies to rail instead of bus. The bus is the poor mans motorcar and used exclusively by minorities, the tendency today is to defund it.

Costly rail transport creates jobs especially around new train stations. Transit oriented development starts with the construction of a commuter rail line. These new stops bring in venture capital like new hotels, shopping centers and office towers. You can't get this with a bus stop.

When the bus service on my block was cut, I moved to the next town over to take advantage of the newly constructed lightrail. If you can't beat em, join em!
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Old 03-21-11, 07:41 PM   #9
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Good points on the bus vs rail. I have lived in neighborhoods that were served by buses...key word being "were", however they no longer are. If an area is willing to invest in light rail they are in it for the long haul. If I had the choice I would much rather spend the money to live near a light rail/subway station than a bus stop any day. However given where I live at the moment, I will be probably dead and forgotten before we ever seen any sort of comprehensive mass transit...including buses.

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Old 03-21-11, 08:23 PM   #10
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That I did not suspect. Either L.A. grew a pair or there's one Chief Executive who is about to get sacked if the people behind the decree he just shat on are still around.
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Old 03-21-11, 08:56 PM   #11
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LA like a lot of cities are redirecting their transit subsidies to rail instead of bus. The bus is the poor mans motorcar and used exclusively by minorities, the tendency today is to defund it.

Costly rail transport creates jobs especially around new train stations. Transit oriented development starts with the construction of a commuter rail line. These new stops bring in venture capital like new hotels, shopping centers and office towers. You can't get this with a bus stop.

When the bus service on my block was cut, I moved to the next town over to take advantage of the newly constructed lightrail. If you can't beat em, join em!
The question of bus vs. rail is complex, and depends on the city/region being served. (Here is a good overview of the issues for those who are interested.) But most transit planners would agree that you shouldn't invest in a new service when you can't even afford to offer current levels of service. IOW, it's good policy to make the passengers you already have happy before you go out and woo new passengers.

That seems to be what LA is doing here--cutting bus service that people have come to rely on in order to build new service that people may or may not use. I suspect that one reason they're doing this is to capture federal funds and possibly state funds. I think it's usually a wiser course to devise a practical, integrated, and useful transit plan first, and then try to find the funding for it.
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Old 03-21-11, 11:09 PM   #12
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LA like a lot of cities are redirecting their transit subsidies to rail instead of bus. The bus is the poor mans motorcar and used exclusively by minorities, the tendency today is to defund it.
I have to disagree with this characterization of bus travel. I see people of all races on the bus when I ride one, but the overwhelming majority of them are white.

I do hesitate to use buses, though, and it's not because of the other riders. It's because I absolutely hate having to travel on someone else's time table. This is true for both buses and trains, so even when they finish the light rail system in Seattle, about the time I die of old age, I will probably use it only to go downtown or the airport. Actually, I won't even use it to go downtown. Even when trains are available, going downtown on my bike will still be cheaper, way more convenient and about as fast as anything else.

That said, I still advocate the construction of as much light rail as we can afford. It's expensive, but not more expensive than more freeways, and it leads to more livable urban areas.
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