By Ken Alpern, October 21, 2014
GETTING THERE FROM HERE-The good news: the first of 78 light rail cars (Kinkisharyo P3010-photo)) for use on our ever-expanding Metro Rail system was unveiled this week in Palmdale. The bad news: automobile car drivers face continued discrimination by ridiculous apps such as MonkeyParking, which allows users to auction off parking spaces. The worst news: we continue to set the bar very low when it comes to transportation construction and funding.
The new Kinkisharyo P3010 light rail cars are highly advanced, can seat 69 people, and can operate on all of Metro's existing light rail lines.
It goes without saying that they'll be needed on the upcoming/expanded Metro Foothill Gold and Expo Lines when they open in 2016, and they'll be especially needed by the time the next round of light rail lines (Crenshaw/LAX and Downtown Connector) open in 2020-2022.
It's not hard to conclude that the demand for more light rail cars, and more frequency of light rail trains, will be ever-increasing as an alternative to the hellish traffic that plagues L.A.--and will only get worse if joblessness and the economy improves (sorry, folks, but a good economy means more traffic!). This is an example of good progress.
In contrast, an example of bad progress is the sordid MonkeyParking app, which allows creepy people to squat on parking spots and sell them to the highest bidder. Those "monkeys" (which, frankly, really gives an unfair and bad name to our simian friends) who would do such a thing deserves a prison cell, not financial betterment.
The MonkeyParking app was banned in San Francisco and Santa Monica, and West LA. Councilmember Mike Bonin is currently supported by a City Council trying to do the same thing in the City of the Angels.
While the City is trying to install smart parking meters and manage pricing based on demand, this MonkeyParking app would get in the way of more appropriate methods of facilitating parking for Angeleno motorists.
Let's just hope that Mike Bonin, Eric Garcetti, and the City Council will have the same decency to ask developers requesting variances (or even those by-right) to install as many parking spaces as they possibly can...and if the developers express unhappiness that parking spots are expensive, the Council should respond:
"Yeah, we know. We've heard. Now pay for the goddamn parking spots, and/or pay into a Citywide parking fund, or expect to endure our wrath."
That phenomenon actually happens in other cities who respect the citizenry, and there's a reason why the LA Parking Freedom Initiative (LINK: http://www.parkinglosangeles.org/) is gaining ground as well. Angelenos are all for alternatives to driving and parking, but no one but NO ONE ever told us that cars were going to be effectively banned in the City of the Angels.
● It's hardly my own hope that parking on Crenshaw Blvd. during construction of the Metro Crenshaw/LAX Light Rail Line can be resolved, and I urge all local residents and businesses to offer up potential parking spots (perhaps for some remuneration?) to keep those wonderful Crenshaw Blvd. businesses alive and well. Heck, maybe some remote parking with lots of DASH vans could be considered?
● It's hardly my own hope that parking at all Metro stations can be increased, particularly when they provide immediate and obvious alternatives to freeway commuting (and thereby take on features of Metrolink/commuter rail stations). It shouldn't have taken so many years to fund and create more parking at the immediately-and-still-wildly-successful Metro North Hollywood Red Line station.
● It's hardly my own hope to see the establishment of a 3-4 story development and affiliated parking structure in "Downtown Mar Vista" (that part of Venice Blvd. between Centinela and Inglewood, where the Library, Farmers Market, and many successful businesses are attracting an ever-larger amount of traffic). Such developments will always be disputed, but we need to get bicyclists, buses AND cars to their destinations.
So the need is stronger than ever to spend money transparently, and spend it well--but not to be pennywise and pound-foolish when it comes to setting appropriate standards for transportation funding and spending, and NOT to give into silly and bizarre canards that the overwhelming majority of voters have never wanted:
1) We need more train service, excellent train service and convenient train service...but a widespread region such as the City and County of Los Angeles will need both first-rate bus AND car access to our train stations. "Providing alternatives" is NOT the same as "giving up our cars", because any one given bus or train route does NOT provide access to all of our desired and necessary destinations.
2) The proposed Metrolink, Amtrak and Caltrain improvements, coupled with purchasing more diesel and electric trains for commuter rail is a wonderful thing...but Governor Brown and the California High-Speed Rail Authority NEVER had the permission of the voters to end freeway and road funding as part of a High-Speed Rail mandate...just as a $35 billion project was NEVER supposed to be $70-100 billion.
3) The lack of parking on our roads and to our businesses is a problem that must be confronted. Parking structures, even small lots, get cars off our roads and create more room for buses and bicyclists--and also help businesses because they get people to the commercial thoroughfares, and get them walking (and buying!) on these very same thoroughfares.
So to restate the obvious:
● Convenient train service and more rail cars are expensive. We know. We've heard. Now do them right!
● Parking structures and lots are expensive. We know. We've heard. Now do them right!
● Quality, dignified, and modern bus stops are expensive. We know. We've heard. Now do them right!
● Bicycle lanes and bicycle/pedestrian amenities are expensive. We know. We've heard. Now do them right!
Must these straightforward transportation battles be so necessary to fight?