Metro Runs, L.A. Walks

There is news from Metro! More trains, more often! Whodathunk? Merry Christmas, rail patrons! Don’t forget to pay your fare!

Metro Gold Line. Weekday express service will be cancelled and converted to local service; all trains will now run every 7 to 8 minutes during peak periods; weekday and weekend mid-day and afternoon service will be changed from every 15 minutes to every 12 minutes.

Oh, to dream of the day when trains run every 5 minutes, 24 hours a day. And they actually go somewhere.

In other news… the Houston Chronicle reports on the most walkable cities in America. Los Angeles just misses the top 10.

What? We’re the 12th most walkable city in the U.S.? I was surprised, too. I think I’ll drive around during lunch and see how walkable the Valley really is.

Christopher B. Leinberger, a real estate developer and visiting fellow at Brookings, set out to quantify the walkability trend by counting the number of “regional-serving walkable urban places” in each of the 30 biggest metropolitan areas in the country. “Regional-serving” means the place is not just a bedroom community, but has jobs, retail or cultural institutions that bring in people who don’t live there.

If you didn’t fall asleep reading that paragraph, wipe the drool from your chin and peep this line:

rail transit (is) a key factor in the success of walkable places

Well, well. Best get to work, Metro. The Red and Purple Lines won’t finish themselves.

10 Replies to “Metro Runs, L.A. Walks”

  1. Los Angeles ranks above Philadelphia for walkable cities? New York is number 10? WTF? This passage is telling: “The survey did not take into account the size of each walkable place. For example, midtown Manhattan is given the same weight as Reston Town Center, a lifestyle center outside Washington.” I guess that’s what happens when a real estate developer does a report on walkability.

  2. Travis: But isn’t the survey a more realistic depiction of walkability? Yes, Los Angeles is a large place, but no one in NYC walks all the way from Downtown Manhattan to Flushing, Queens, nor does anyone in SF walk all the way from the Sunset District to Chinatown. Instead there are general areas of walkability, mostly connected by transit, where people stick to. This just shows that we’re headed in the right direction.

  3. I like how the MTA put a positive spin on their failed express service. This is a fine example of MTA waste. (Only to be outdone with pending multi-million dollar turnstile installations.)

    They introduced the Gold Line express service with much fanfare a year and a half-ago, only meeting much frustration from novice riders who missed their stops due to getting aboard an express train accidentally. So they tweaked it, reducing trains times, adding stops, and reprinting thousands, and thousands of train schedules every time.

    Living a block from the Highland Park station, I will miss being able to get downtown in 10 minuets, or to my job in East Pasadena in 16 minuets. Of course they will likely re-introduce express service again when the East LA section opens in 2009, or when the extension to Montclair opens in 2014.

    What I really would like, is the restoration of the wee-hour trains (1:30AM) that made for easy bar-hopping.

  4. I see Travis’ point about the survey, but agree with Militant Angeleno. I’ve been to the most ridiculous out-of-the-way developments in the Inland Empire, but the people who live there think their neighborhood is extremely walkable. Why? Because each enclave was built with a school, parks, and little shops in the center. Granted, they’ll still need to sit on the freeway for 30 min. to go 1 mile just to get to the grocery store, but there’s a Starbucks within walking distance!

  5. Well, I guess it depends how you figure “walkability.” Certainly many of us live around the corner from a CVS, so there’s that. Seriously though, I guess I was hung up on the idea of how many people live largely car-free here as opposed to, say, Philadelphia. But in fairness I’ll concede that carlessness is not the same thing as walkability.

  6. Earlier this year one of our peers did a great article on the walkability of neighborhoods and included this link: http://www.walkscore.com/index.shtml

    I scored a dismal 65 in my ‘hood.

    All that aside the cancelling of the express on the gold line is a joke. I went to Venice today and in the time it took me to drive back EVEN with sucky traffic through downtown, the Pas Freeway and the everpopular 210 parking lot I still did it at just under an hour.

    For comparison. The Gold Line from Union Station to Sierra Madre which is still 7 miles short of my house would have taken 50 minutes. Think about it a pluggy freeway is still faster than a train. That isn’t right. That’s why the Gold Line has yet to make its ridership numbers.

    Please would someone put together a system that works and quickly? In London I can get anywhere I need within 30 minutes from our hotels on either side of Hyde Park. Hell, we could get all the way out to Windsor faster with train changes than the Gold Line can go from Downtown to Sierra Madre.

    My request. Skip the two front teeth for Christmas, give me an affordable and fast rail system. Really, I’ll use that.

  7. frazgo, that walkscore link, I’m pretty weak on that site. I did that last year, when I still lived of Melrose and Fairfax. That area got a 83 last year (100 now), but come on, Melrose is mostly restaurants and shopping. We were the only people who’d walk to the grocery store. My new neighborhood ranks at 57 (I checked when we made an offer on the house and last year it ranked 34), but everything around is useful, hardware store, grocery store, gas station, banks, post office.

    And I’m with on the train thing. I live in El Sereno, where this is no train service. I can take the bus to the train station, but that can take up to 30 min. I live a 10 – 15 min. drive away from downtown. Even if I park and ride, that time it takes for me to get to the Mission Station or the Heritage Square station, I could have just driven to downtown. So, then it becomes a toss up of do I want to save time with driving or money on parking?

  8. Because there is only one track each way, the Express was never very “express” anyway.

    Also, we need to stop thinking in terms of “faster” and focus on other benefits (like, it is cheaper, less stressful and you can work, read, sleep, etc.). Public transportation is rarely faster in any city. We just have to make it more convenient here.

  9. Well HBC I agree on some of what you say. It does have to be as fast as a car. Easier and cheaper are a given for the solo-commuter if its ever going to be useful.

    The problem is here it is still way to expensive for a family to go anywhere. A field trip planned by my kids school for the GATE kids using all metro lines, buses from Monrovia to the Tar Pits was enlightening. Nearly 2 hours EACH way and for a family of 5 it was going to cost me $50. The cost of gas would have been under $10, parking less than that. Time to get there on a weekend is 45 minutes each way.

    My cars are old enough the yearly depreciation isn’t even a factor in figuring cost per mile so you tell me which is the better deal for the whole family.

    For families to use the fares need to have built in reductions. In London this spring my 10 was a freebie on the tube on weekends and non-rush hours when he was with us. My teens were freebies on the weekend. A big savings and similar would make it practicle for us here.

    Change doesn’t come easy. Unless the alternative is as fast, easy to use (your convenient factor?) it’s not going to be a viable mode for a lot of people.

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