06 January 2008

With Numbers Like That, Of Course That Means You Should Build Out Even More . . .

(hat tip Ed Driscoll)

David Freddoso blogging at the corner, points to this old post by Peter Gordon (Sept 2006) about the costs of light rail in Los Angeles and is highly critical of a LAT article (which he reprints in full, infringilistically, but given that LAT links get buried into their pay per view pages, what else can you do? seems like pretty fair use to me) that leaves out the costly details of what more light rail would mean with the desired Westside Expo Line expansion.

Our local politicians are enamored of rail, anyway. Doesn't matter that ridership is light, the effect on traffic has been minimal, and the ability for rail to lure people who can afford to drive out of their cars has proven elusive. We have too many traffic planners who are refugees from places with established rail systems that were built decades ago. They think because rail works in a city like NYC or Chicago, that it can work here, too. They're not entirely wrong, but the cost for rail today is prohibitive, if the old Red Cars stayed in operation and had been improved and expanded over the past 50 years, then rail would be great for Los Angeles, but that's not the world we live in. The reality is, light rail is a turn of the last century solution that is impossible to intergrate into a large urban/suburban area with a multitude of destinations and nothing that approaches a central gathering point. We are a diffuse city, a diverse city, with people going every which way, starting from every which place. Rail doesn't serve that kind of city well, and never will. Metro Rail is still based on the Downtown LA as a vibrant hub fallacy. Downtown is experiencing a rebirth, and is becoming more vibrant, but as a hub for travel for people going about their daily business around SoCal, it stinks. Even if the cost weren't prohibitive, the Los Angeles culture is car oriented now, and nothing short of a major change in the social and economic structure will change that.

I'd probably benefit personally from a rail line that came close to my house (which the proposed Expo Line would), and use it pretty frequently, but that doesn't stop me from thinking that it's a really bad idea.

1 comment:

bill said...

also see this Matt Welch post and comments about LA commuting concerns.