When I first moved to Los Angeles from the San Francisco Bay Area four years ago, one of the first things anyone told me was, “No one walks in L.A.” When a friend I met for dinner, a long-time Angeleno, asked where I had parked, she balked when I told her I had walked the 20 minutes from my house. To this day, I get offers from friends to drive me home so I “don’t have to take the bus.”
However, what is often thought of as the typical transit-snubbing attitude may be changing. Last month, many of us here were taken aback when “Carmageddon,” the shutdown of 10 miles of the 405 freeway for two days, yielded only a slight trickle of cars rather than apocalyptic gridlock.
This was primarily thanks to the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro), but I think it was also due in part to the fact that the public’s attitude toward public transportation is changing.
Last week I attended the American Public Transportation Association’s Sustainability & Public Transportation Workshop, held in downtown Los Angeles. It turned out to be easier than I expected to take a bus there, despite living a good 45 minutes away, thanks to the Los Angeles Department of Transportation’s Commuter Express.
During the opening session, after all the good-natured jokes were out of the way about the irony of the workshop location, representatives from Metro shared how Measure R, an initiative to support public transit projects approved by a two-thirds majority in 2008, is supporting a dozen transit projects.
Romel Pascual, deputy mayor for energy and the environment, said that he saw the change, especially during Carmageddon, and how the city is turning increasingly bike-friendly. Additionally, Metro officials shared plans for both ongoing and completed projects with LEED-like sustainability principles for busways and light rail in addition to its facilities. It was also pointed out by several other speakers that bike-sharing has been increasing worldwide, and it is finally coming to L.A. For more workshop details, check out our coverage, which will soon be posted on our website.
Pascual also noted that what are considered “alternate” forms of transportation are all about perception. “L.A. is a city that’s all about perception. We are welcoming, and need to welcome alternate forms of transportation.”
In case you missed it...
Read our METRO blog, "Making the most of a training bus opportunity" here.
It drives me nuts when people litter. One of my biggest pet peeves is when people throw trash out of their car windows while they’re driving. I’m always tempted to honk my horn when I see drivers slyly ditching cigarette butts through their open window. Listen up, people. We see you!
Agencies that use Twitter to respond to users’ complaints or answer questions get more positive Twitter reaction and more civil discourse online, according to Lisa Schweitzer the author of a recent study analyzing tweets of public transit agencies. “It’s about the marketing potential of social media — a lot of public transit agencies are simply tweeting their problems to the world by blasting out late service announcements. That’s not a good use of Twitter,” she says. “Transit agencies can influence the tone of the discussion by interacting with patrons online,” Schweitzer explains. “It gives people something to respond to, and it reminds people that somebody is listening.”
Usually by early January, I will hopefully have taken down the last of our holiday decorations and eaten or given away the remaining sweets that have become a part of my regular diet during the month of December. Then, of course like most people, I’ll think about ways I want to improve myself for the coming year. Whether it be exercising more (walking from the parking lot to my office doesn’t count), eating less ice cream or managing my email better. The latter practice alone would help improve my efficiency at work immensely. I’m sure you probably feel the same way.
A new National Resources Defense Council (NRDC) study solidifies what the American Public Transportation Association’s (APTA) Transit Savings Report has been telling us for years now: riding public transportation can save users money.
June 20 will mark the 8th annual National Dump the Pump Day sponsored by the American Public Transportation Association, in partnership with the Sierra Club and the Natural Resources Defense Council.