‘Car-crazed’ L.A. welcoming transit, sustainability

Posted on August 10, 2011 by Nicole Schlosser

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.

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