To consolidate, disseminate, and gather information concerning the 710 expansion into our San Rafael neighborhood and into our surrounding neighborhoods. If you have an item that you would like posted on this blog, please e-mail the item to Peggy Drouet at pdrouet@earthlink.net

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

7 Innovations To Make L.A. Metro Better


By Kevin Cheberenchick, July 22, 2014

USA, California, Los Angeles, Woman sending text messages on subway station

For any public transportation system to thrive, safety, speed, affordability and convenience must be optimized. These reasons are why buses are inevitably doomed to fail. Like private cars, public buses will also get stuck in traffic, will be limited by increasing gasoline prices and will be susceptible to motor vehicle accidents.

These problems, however, do not affect a metro rail line. The Los Angeles Metro Rail will never be susceptible to gasoline prices, are much safer than cars and cannot get stuck in traffic. While a rail system has some intrinsic advantages, the L.A. Metro system is lacking. But there are several technological and service innnovations that could make the L.A. Metro truly great, for example:

1. Stop Notification Lights

There are multiple things that the L.A. rail system currently offers, but does not do consistently well. One such example is their intercom system. It's a game of Russian roulette as to whether or not they will announce what station riders are at. There are two ways to fix this problem. First, fix the intercoms and make sure the rail employees announce the station or play the automated voice message every time. Second, implement LED lights on the metro line map to show which stop the train is at. The light will be lit when the train is stopped at the corresponding station. The new map lighting will additionally make the system friendly to the deaf and hearing-impaired.

2. RFID & NFC Pay Service

With radio frequency identification (RFID) and near field communication (NFC), it is more convenient for people to be able to use their own credit card or cell phone as their pass onboard the metro rail. In New York, the Mass Trasit Authority (MTA) successfully tested a program allowing the use of MasterCard PayPass and Visa PayWave. Implementing a similar system in Los Angeles should be doable.

3. Cell Phone App Request Service

Ride-sharing services Uber and Lyft destroy traditional taxis because the smartphone app-based companies know when and where a person needs transportation. This same logic can be applied to the metro system. When someone pays for a metro ride at a certain station, it should send a ping to the metro rail driver telling him or her to stop at that station. Then, via phone or through a display at the metro station, a rider should be able to inform the rail driver where he or she wants to go. This would be most effective during nighttime hours, when ridership is lower. It would also speed up service because trains would not have to stop at every station, stop free loaders because the metro could only be requested after you paid and would allow the metro to stay open later than its current 2:00 a.m. closing time.

4. Ramp Gates

A portion of subway-related deaths consists of suicides committed by jumping in front of an oncoming train. Ramp gates will prevent suicides - one of the top fifteen causes of death - and will also serve as a terrorism and crime deterrent. Los Angeles County has some of the country's highest train death rates, especially for suicides by train. New York's MTA has already expressed interest in starting a pilot program to install platform screen doors.

5. Underground Wi-Fi and 4G

On June 26, 2014 at 8:29PM, I was waiting for the Metro Red Line when someone tried to use the emergency box at the Hollywood/Highland station. When the person pressed the button, no one answered. This served as a realization to me and all other bystanders that the Metro Rail’s emergency system is dangerously lacking. For a moment, it made us feel unsafe.

In 2011,the MTA began to provide underground cellular phones with voice and data service and free Wi-Fi to passengers in New York City. Underground Wi-Fi and 4G can increase safety by allowing individuals to tweet, text and call in the event of an emergency. Additionally, it will allow people to be entertained by YouTube videos on their phones or respond to work emails during their daily commute.

6. Expansion to Airports, Colleges and Popular Destinations

The size of L.A. Metro is depressingly small, with a meager 80 stations compared to New York's 421. If the metro system cannot get you where you want to go, there is simply no reason to take it. Therefore, expanding the metro is vital to increasing its ridership and convenience. College students and tourists make up a large portion of the metro's potential ridership. Guaranteeing the expansion with the Regional Connector, Red Line to Burbank Airport, Gold Line Ontario Extension and Airport Metro Connector is necessary. Riders should also be able to eventually take the rail to UCLA, and eventually Disneyland.

7. More Secure Turnstiles

The previous improvements mentioned will cost money and one way to maximize revenue is to minimize freeloaders. Floor-to-ceiling paid turnstile entrance gates and floor-to-ceiling paid handicap entrances will prevent people from jumping over the current mid-level turnstiles and getting a free ride. Additionally, creating exit-only turnstile lanes will prevent freeloaders from squeezing through when others are leaving. Lastly, one of the reasons why the metro is so slow is that it stops so that police officers can check to make sure everyone paid for the ride. No one wants to take a public transportation system that is slower than driving in LA traffic and the metro rail is currently slower regardless of time or location of trip.

All of these improvements could make L.A. Metro exceptionally better. Expanding service will also increase ridership by reaching more consumers, and implementing safety and freeloader preventions will save money by reducing the number of paid security officers. Hopefully, one day, L.A. Metro Rail will be comparable to New York’s or London’s metro systems.