Purpose

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

Thursday, March 27, 2014

More trains, buses and highways across region will ease traffic gridlock, L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti says

http://www.dailynews.com/general-news/20140326/more-trains-buses-and-highways-across-region-will-ease-traffic-gridlock-la-mayor-eric-garcetti-says

By Steve Scauzillo, March 26, 2014


Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti at the San Gabriel Valley Transportation Forum in the city of Industry. Garcetti embraced a county-wide transportation plan and offered his help to the independent cities of Los Angeles County.


INDUSTRY >> Saying no one in Southern California is immune to traffic nightmares, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti vowed Wednesday to work alongside independent cities in the county to raise money for more trains, buses and highways that will ease gridlock.

“I want to be a better mayor for the entire region,” Garcetti told an audience of 200 leaders from throughout the county. “It used to be L.A. city is the 800-pound gorilla everyone loves to hate. I want to say those days are over.”

Going hand-in-hand with the mayor’s cooperation is a proposal to float another half-cent sales tax to fund new transit projects similar to Measure R, passed by county voters in November 2008. Measure R-2 or Measure X would be placed on the November 2016 ballot to coincide with an expected large voter turnout for president in the general election.

Political leaders said they are looking to the mayor, who sits on the MTA board and has tremendous influence on countywide transit projects, to pave the way for such a county measure.

Though Measure R is still on the books, the expected revenue of $40 billion over 30 years is falling short by about $4 billion. Also, the vision for a rail network connecting sprawling Southern California already would cost more than funds from Measure R.

“They’ve (MTA board members) made no decisions but it is an issue for discussion,” said MTA CEO Art Leahy, in an interview Wednesday. “It is 2½ years off; we’ll have to wait and see how it looks.”
Garcetti’s remarks were delivered at the San Gabriel Valley Transportation Forum held at the Pacific Palms Resort in Industry. Although the mayor did not mention new taxes, others on the program did, including Denny Zane, executive director of Move LA.

 Zane has invited Garcetti to discuss “Measure R-2” at a conference Friday in downtown L.A. A flier for the program asks: “Is there a Measure R-2 framework that we can all support?” Zane predicted the measure would be a half-cent sales tax increase for 45 years and raise $90 billion.

Regional transportation planners laid out a mobility plan calling for a $525 billion investment over 25 years in everything from wider freeways to more light-rail lines and bikeways.

The Southern California Association of Governments Regional Transportation Plan predicts the investment will create 175,000 jobs per year in Southern California in construction and operation.
Projects included in the plan are: A regional connector that will link the Gold Line light-rail with the Blue Line, enabling passengers to travel from Azusa to Long Beach without changing seats; an extension of the Crenshaw rail line into LAX; plus numerous freeway widening projects along the 5, 605 and 71 freeways.

“People are stuck in traffic. Separated from their families. They are, to quote that line from “Network,” ‘Mad as hell and not going to take it anymore,’ “ Garcetti said.

Funding for highway projects will run dry in July, when the Highway Trust Fund is expected to go bankrupt, said Sharon Neely, chief deputy executive director of SCAG. Sen. Boxer is proposing a bill that would try out a user fee based on the amount of vehicle miles traveled in lieu of the 18.4-cents-per-gallon pump tax, Neely said.

“We haven’t had a gas tax increase for 20 years,” she said. “Yet it is not easy going back to your home city and say I support a gas tax increase or a user tax.”

 Funding for a second extension of the Gold Line, from Azusa to Claremont, has not materialized. Yet, the Metro Gold Line Foothill Construction Authority is moving ahead on engineering and designs this summer.

“Our project will be ready in 2017. If there is a sales tax initiative passed in 2016 we will be shovel ready and could complete the project by 2022,” said Habib Balian, CEO of the Authority.
The mayor of Los Angeles announced that he fully supports the Gold Line extension from Azusa to Claremont.

In the past, smaller cities in the county clashed with former Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, but on Wednesday Duarte Mayor John Fasana, who represents the 31 San Gabriel Valley cities on the MTA board, welcomed the regional message brought by Garcetti to the inland areas.

“At times we’ve had to bare our knuckles and fight for the resources,” Fasana said. “Now, we see an unprecedented opportunity. This new era really bodes well for us.”

Garcetti did not mention Villaraigosa, who was viewed by cities in the San Gabriel Valley, the southeast county and the Inland Empire as a booster for only L.A.-centric projects and a roadblock to funding projects outside the L.A. city limits.“Whether in the San Gabriel Valley or inside other parts of L.A. County, the problems we are all attempting to solve don’t pay attention to borders,” Garcetti said.

Still, Garcetti spoke in favor of bicycle lanes and more “CicLAvia” type events, known as open streets, throughout the county, as a less expensive way to move people.

“Forty-seven percent of all car trips in L.A. County are less than three miles. Completing a three-mile trip on a bicycle is not hard to do. If you cruise, you won’t even break a sweat,” said speaker Javier Hernandez, program director of Bike San Gabriel Valley.

 Gov. Brown has set aside $100 million in his budget for sustainable transportation methods, such as bikes, trains and clean buses, Neely said. SCAG is asking Brown to increase that to $500 million, she said.

LAX luggage-theft probe leads to arrests of current, ex-handlers

http://www.latimes.com/local/lanow/la-me-ln-lax-luggage-theft-20140327,0,5239450.story#axzz2xArDUBWL

March 27, 2014

See website for a video.

Authorities served 25 search warrants and made multiple arrests Wednesday night as part of a months-long investigation into luggage and cargo thefts at Los Angeles International Airport.

Airport police and other officers swooped down on a cargo facility near Imperial Highway and Aviation Boulevard near the southeast side of LAX, according to a source familiar with the operation.

Officers also served search warrants in Paramount and at a home in the 8800 block of Hooper Street in the Florence-Firestone neighborhood adjacent to South Los Angeles, the source said.

In a statement released jointly by Los Angeles Airport Police and the Los Angeles Police Department, officials said search warrents were served at suspects' homes throughout the county, where detectives seized jewelry, electronics, clothing and other personal belongings believed to have been reported stolen.

The thefts were connected to a group of people, all of whom are current or former employees of companies contracted by airlines to provide baggage-handling services, authorities said. It was not immediately clear how many people had been arrested.

Those arrested had undergone employment and criminal background checks before being authorized to work at the airport, according to airport Police Chief Patrick Gannon.

“It’s a disappointment, but a fact of life, that sometimes a few people will succumb to the temptations at LAX,” Gannon said in the statement. “The actions of these few do not represent the nearly 45,000 individuals who work for the nearly 350 employers at LAX.”

The items are being identified in an attempt to return them to their owners, according to LAX police.



Fashion trucks are driving a new trend into Los Angeles

http://www.dailynews.com/lifestyle/20140326/fashion-trucks-are-driving-a-new-trend-into-los-angeles

By Richmond Guzman, March 26, 2014


 

 Monique Cruz's Selvedge Dry Goods truck was among the fashion trucks the American Mobile Association brought to CSULB as part of a new truck pop-up shop events at the school, in Long Beach, CA., on Tuesday, February 11, 2014.

They’ve taken their game plan directly from the food truck phenomenon that rolled into the L.A. area more than five years ago. They spruce up their trucks with bright colors, cool graphics and catchy names as they tweet out information about when and where they’ll pop up next.

But instead of serving fusion tacos, organic burgers or lobster rolls, they’re hawking fast fashion as part of the latest business trend to hit the streets: fashion trucks.

“We’re promoting being mobile, a new way of shopping and a creative way of bringing the product to the customer,” said Monique Cruz, who owns Selvedge Dry Goods, a vintage clothing boutique she runs out of a fixed-up cargo truck.

She opened about a year ago with an investment of less than $10,000. Part of the retrofit included a small wooden staircase that leads to the interior of Selvedge Dry Goods, which, thanks to its inventory, has the feel of a very small Urban Outfitters or Wasteland. It was one of the five fashion trucks that recently parked at Cal State Long Beach’s campus for an outdoor shopping event.

Cruz is now preparing to return to CSULB on the weekends of April 7 and 14 for another day of mobile fashion dubbed “Springchella.” The events will include seven retail trucks aimed at students in need of some desert-friendly fashion before heading out to the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival.

Some other locations the trucks often hit up are the Downtown L.A. Art Walk and the annual Malipalooza in Malibu. On Saturdays, about 10 fashion trucks can be found at the Melrose Trading Post at Taft Charter High School in Woodland Hills while on Sundays a handful of trucks park at the Post’s Fairfax High location.

“It’s been really great. We’ve had a great response to the mobile retail trucks,” said Melissa Richardson Banks, a spokeswoman for the Melrose Trading Post. “They have a good social following, they have people that will follow them from place to place and they add so much excitement to the event.”

Fashion Trucks like Selvedge Dry Goods and the others coming to the upcoming Long Beach event began rolling out in the L.A. area about three years ago, and like their food truck counterparts they’re made up of older vans and cargo or delivery trucks that have been fixed up inside and out.

“The growth has not been as fast as the food truck boom but it has gone global. We’ve heard from trucks in Europe, Africa, everywhere, so I think it’s going to continue to grow,” said Stacey Steffe, who along with her partner Jeanine Romo launched Le Fashion Truck in January 2011.

Their pink truck has been credited with being the first mobile retail truck to drive through Los Angeles.

Steffe and Romo later formed the American Mobile Retail Association to offer consulting services, business seminars and to help bring trucks together for events like those at CSULB.

Jeanine Romo, left, and Stacey Steffe, right, show their fashion truck as it is parked on Sunset Blvd.Tuesday, March 11, 2014, Hollywood, CA.

Springchella

When: 8 a.m.-5 p.m. April 7 and 14.
Where: CSULB, in front of the 49ers Bookstore, 6049 E. Seventh St., Long Beach.
Tickets: Free.

Information: For a list of other fashion trucks and their schedules go to americanmra.com.
They’ve taken their game plan directly from the food truck phenomenon that rolled into the L.A. area more than five years ago. They spruce up their trucks with bright colors, cool graphics and catchy names as they tweet out information about when and where they’ll pop up next.

But instead of serving fusion tacos, organic burgers or lobster rolls, they’re hawking fast fashion as part of the latest business trend to hit the streets: fashion trucks.

“We’re promoting being mobile, a new way of shopping and a creative way of bringing the product to the customer,” said Monique Cruz, who owns Selvedge Dry Goods, a vintage clothing boutique she runs out of a fixed-up cargo truck.

She opened about a year ago with an investment of less than $10,000. Part of the retrofit included a small wooden staircase that leads to the interior of Selvedge Dry Goods, which, thanks to its inventory, has the feel of a very small Urban Outfitters or Wasteland. It was one of the five fashion trucks that recently parked at Cal State Long Beach’s campus for an outdoor shopping event.

Cruz is now preparing to return to CSULB on the weekends of April 7 and 14 for another day of mobile fashion dubbed “Springchella.” The events will include seven retail trucks aimed at students in need of some desert-friendly fashion before heading out to the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival.

Some other locations the trucks often hit up are the Downtown L.A. Art Walk and the annual Malipalooza in Malibu. On Saturdays, about 10 fashion trucks can be found at the Melrose Trading Post at Taft Charter High School in Woodland Hills while on Sundays a handful of trucks park at the Post’s Fairfax High location.

“It’s been really great. We’ve had a great response to the mobile retail trucks,” said Melissa Richardson Banks, a spokeswoman for the Melrose Trading Post. “They have a good social following, they have people that will follow them from place to place and they add so much excitement to the event.”

Fashion Trucks like Selvedge Dry Goods and the others coming to the upcoming Long Beach event began rolling out in the L.A. area about three years ago, and like their food truck counterparts they’re made up of older vans and cargo or delivery trucks that have been fixed up inside and out.

“The growth has not been as fast as the food truck boom but it has gone global. We’ve heard from trucks in Europe, Africa, everywhere, so I think it’s going to continue to grow,” said Stacey Steffe, who along with her partner Jeanine Romo launched Le Fashion Truck in January 2011.

Their pink truck has been credited with being the first mobile retail truck to drive through Los Angeles.

Steffe and Romo later formed the American Mobile Retail Association to offer consulting services, business seminars and to help bring trucks together for events like those at CSULB.

“We wanted to originally join the food truck association, but we were so different from the food trucks it didn’t make sense to join. So Stacy and I started saying we should just have our own,” Romo said.

So far nationally about 300 fashion truck owners are members of the association, with about 19 here in the Los Angeles area, including Cruz and the others participating at the upcoming CSULB event. The appeal of the new business model, fashion business experts say, is lower overhead with considerable savings on rent and the relative speed and low cost of launching the business, which can range from about $20,000 to $30,000.

“It’s cheaper to get off the ground for sure, you save a lot of rent a month and you invest a few thousand in a truck to have it retrofitted and you have a mobile boutique that can go anywhere,” said Frances Harder, founder and president of the downtown Los Angeles-based Fashion Businesses Incorporated, a nonprofit organization that helps develop fashion-related businesses.

Harder has penned several versions of the book “Fashion for Profit,” a how-to guide on starting a fashion business. She’s updating her book to include the new mobile stores in response to the fashion truck trend.

But there are also drawbacks to the trucks, such as not being able to park and sell whenever and wherever they like because most cities, including Los Angeles, will not issue permits to allow trucks to park on public streets and sell goods.

The permitting issue is the main reason why the trucks join together for events on private property such as the ones at CSULB.

“I love it. I love this idea,” said Rebecca Ramirez, a dance major and sophomore at the college who was browsing around the Selvedge truck.

She has shopped at fashion trucks and likes the convenience of fashion coming to her and the look of the trucks. “It’s very cute, it’s very inviting. It’s just so adorable how it’s set up, it makes you just want to go inside,” she said.

 Inside they’re modeled after stylish boutiques with floors made to resemble hardwood or concrete; small shelves displaying accessories like earrings, necklaces and sunglasses; and neat racks fitted with enough clothing to let customers browse for a while but not too much to make the small space feel cluttered or claustrophobic.

The interiors are usually big enough to accommodate two to three shoppers comfortably, and are decked out with tiny spaces curtained off as dressing rooms.

There are now as many as 400 fashion trucks on American roads, according to Steffe. The few dozen in the Los Angeles area sell fashion that varies from funky vintage threads, to ethnic clothing and modern sophisticated styles.

The truck proprietors are as varied as the clothes they sell, with fashion school graduates, clothing designers, former marketing professionals and business-savvy entrepreneurs getting behind the wheel. Some are using the trucks as a means to earn enough money and a customer base before investing in a traditional store, while others like Steffe and Romo have plans to stay on the road.

“We’re good with the truck. We don’t want to go the traditional route, at least not in the near future,” Romo said.

Ilse Metchek, president of the California Fashion Association, agrees fashion trucks are the newest trend in fashion right now. Thanks to the inventive retrofits, Metchek said the trucks have a lot of visual appeal, which helps sell the clothes and other wares they offer, although the fashion may not be as high-end as found at trendy boutique stores.
 
Jeanine Romo, left, and Stacey Steffe, right, show their fashion truck as it is parked on Sunset Blvd.Tuesday, March 11, 2014, Hollywood, CA.
 
 

Springchella

When: 8 a.m.-5 p.m. April 7 and 14.
Where: CSULB, in front of the 49ers Bookstore, 6049 E. Seventh St., Long Beach.
Tickets: Free.

Information: For a list of other fashion trucks and their schedules go to americanmra.com.

They’ve taken their game plan directly from the food truck phenomenon that rolled into the L.A. area more than five years ago. They spruce up their trucks with bright colors, cool graphics and catchy names as they tweet out information about when and where they’ll pop up next.

But instead of serving fusion tacos, organic burgers or lobster rolls, they’re hawking fast fashion as part of the latest business trend to hit the streets: fashion trucks.

“We’re promoting being mobile, a new way of shopping and a creative way of bringing the product to the customer,” said Monique Cruz, who owns Selvedge Dry Goods, a vintage clothing boutique she runs out of a fixed-up cargo truck.

She opened about a year ago with an investment of less than $10,000. Part of the retrofit included a small wooden staircase that leads to the interior of Selvedge Dry Goods, which, thanks to its inventory, has the feel of a very small Urban Outfitters or Wasteland. It was one of the five fashion trucks that recently parked at Cal State Long Beach’s campus for an outdoor shopping event.

Cruz is now preparing to return to CSULB on the weekends of April 7 and 14 for another day of mobile fashion dubbed “Springchella.” The events will include seven retail trucks aimed at students in need of some desert-friendly fashion before heading out to the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival.

Some other locations the trucks often hit up are the Downtown L.A. Art Walk and the annual Malipalooza in Malibu. On Saturdays, about 10 fashion trucks can be found at the Melrose Trading Post at Taft Charter High School in Woodland Hills while on Sundays a handful of trucks park at the Post’s Fairfax High location.

“It’s been really great. We’ve had a great response to the mobile retail trucks,” said Melissa Richardson Banks, a spokeswoman for the Melrose Trading Post. “They have a good social following, they have people that will follow them from place to place and they add so much excitement to the event.”

Fashion Trucks like Selvedge Dry Goods and the others coming to the upcoming Long Beach event began rolling out in the L.A. area about three years ago, and like their food truck counterparts they’re made up of older vans and cargo or delivery trucks that have been fixed up inside and out.

“The growth has not been as fast as the food truck boom but it has gone global. We’ve heard from trucks in Europe, Africa, everywhere, so I think it’s going to continue to grow,” said Stacey Steffe, who along with her partner Jeanine Romo launched Le Fashion Truck in January 2011.

Their pink truck has been credited with being the first mobile retail truck to drive through Los Angeles.

Steffe and Romo later formed the American Mobile Retail Association to offer consulting services, business seminars and to help bring trucks together for events like those at CSULB.

“We wanted to originally join the food truck association, but we were so different from the food trucks it didn’t make sense to join. So Stacy and I started saying we should just have our own,” Romo said.

So far nationally about 300 fashion truck owners are members of the association, with about 19 here in the Los Angeles area, including Cruz and the others participating at the upcoming CSULB event.
The appeal of the new business model, fashion business experts say, is lower overhead with considerable savings on rent and the relative speed and low cost of launching the business, which can range from about $20,000 to $30,000.

“It’s cheaper to get off the ground for sure, you save a lot of rent a month and you invest a few thousand in a truck to have it retrofitted and you have a mobile boutique that can go anywhere,” said Frances Harder, founder and president of the downtown Los Angeles-based Fashion Businesses Incorporated, a nonprofit organization that helps develop fashion-related businesses.

Harder has penned several versions of the book “Fashion for Profit,” a how-to guide on starting a fashion business. She’s updating her book to include the new mobile stores in response to the fashion truck trend.

But there are also drawbacks to the trucks, such as not being able to park and sell whenever and wherever they like because most cities, including Los Angeles, will not issue permits to allow trucks to park on public streets and sell goods.

The permitting issue is the main reason why the trucks join together for events on private property such as the ones at CSULB.

“I love it. I love this idea,” said Rebecca Ramirez, a dance major and sophomore at the college who was browsing around the Selvedge truck.

She has shopped at fashion trucks and likes the convenience of fashion coming to her and the look of the trucks. “It’s very cute, it’s very inviting. It’s just so adorable how it’s set up, it makes you just want to go inside,” she said.

Inside they’re modeled after stylish boutiques with floors made to resemble hardwood or concrete; small shelves displaying accessories like earrings, necklaces and sunglasses; and neat racks fitted with enough clothing to let customers browse for a while but not too much to make the small space feel cluttered or claustrophobic.

The interiors are usually big enough to accommodate two to three shoppers comfortably, and are decked out with tiny spaces curtained off as dressing rooms.

There are now as many as 400 fashion trucks on American roads, according to Steffe. The few dozen in the Los Angeles area sell fashion that varies from funky vintage threads, to ethnic clothing and modern sophisticated styles.

The truck proprietors are as varied as the clothes they sell, with fashion school graduates, clothing designers, former marketing professionals and business-savvy entrepreneurs getting behind the wheel. Some are using the trucks as a means to earn enough money and a customer base before investing in a traditional store, while others like Steffe and Romo have plans to stay on the road.

“We’re good with the truck. We don’t want to go the traditional route, at least not in the near future,” Romo said.

Ilse Metchek, president of the California Fashion Association, agrees fashion trucks are the newest trend in fashion right now. Thanks to the inventive retrofits, Metchek said the trucks have a lot of visual appeal, which helps sell the clothes and other wares they offer, although the fashion may not be as high-end as found at trendy boutique stores.

“They appeal to the impulse buyer, the same people that like to eat standing up, it’s the ultimate fast fashion,” she said. This also means significant discounts on fashionable clothing, she noted.
So far, though, Metchek said there seems to be little competition between fashion trucks and traditional fashion stores.

“The major brands will not sell directly to the fashion trucks,” she said. Instead, fashion trucks will pick up product from small rising designers or large scale discount distributors.

“We love working with all the local designers because it’s not something you’re going to see in any store, and definitely not in a department store,” Romo said.

Nationally, the trend began back in 2010 when New York-based designer Cynthia Rowley decked out an old UPS-style truck before taking her fashion line on a national road trip that made several stops in the area.

Rowley’s traveling truck and their own experience eating at local food trucks inspired Steffe and Romo to open their business.

“Le Fashion Truck” is written in delicate cursive on the side of their truck, where they sell women’s fashion and accessories by local and emerging brands priced from about $25 to $55 for clothes and as high as $120 for sunglasses.

Steffe, a former marketing and advertising professional teamed up with Romo, who studied fashion design and merchandise at Cal State L.A., to launch the truck at the Downtown L.A. Monthly Art Walk. Their opening night was a bigger hit than they imagined thanks in large part to the food truck model they followed, promoting the opening on social media weeks before their launch.

“We were going for a French boutique kind of theme when we were creating Le Fashion Truck three years ago,” Steffe said while standing inside her box-truck store that was parked in front of her small office on Sunset Boulevard in Hollywood.

While it was there for a photo shoot and not open for business, the truck turned the heads of many pedestrians and people who walked by in the area on a recent afternoon.

“That is such a great idea. It’s so cool and I would totally shop there,” said Eric Delgado, as he walked by Le Fashion Truck with a friend. He was disappointed to find out that, like most other fashion truck owners, Steffe and Romo sell mostly women’s fashion.
 

31 state chambers push for 5-year transportation bill

http://www.betterroads.com/31-state-chambers-push-for-5-year-transportation-bill/

By Amanda Bayhi, March 26, 2014

Several state chambers — 31, to be exact — are urging Congress to pass a five-year surface transportation reauthorization bill.

 In a letter to Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) and Rep. Bill Shuster (R-Penn.), chairmen of their respective transportation committees, and Sen. David Vitter (R-La.) and Rep. Nick Rahall (D-W.Va.), ranking members of their respective chambers, the state chambers reminded the lawmakers that the current bill, MAP-21, will expire in less than six months. The bill is slated to expire on September 30.


 The letter outlines four areas the chambers want Congress to consider while working on a new bill: “At minimum, a five-year authorization to provide predictability and certainty to a sector of our economy that needs stability and growth; dedicated federal funds to ensure the solvency of the Highway Trust Fund; flexibility for states to invest in transportation infrastructure as they deem necessary; and freedom for states to choose their own funding options.”

The letter urges Congress to provide ample federal funding, noting that, although states have transportation plans in place, “state action alone is not enough.”

To see the full letter, click here.
In a letter to Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) and Rep. Bill Shuster (R-Penn.), chairmen of their respective transportation committees, and Sen. David Vitter (R-La.) and Rep. Nick Rahall (D-W.Va.), ranking members of their respective chambers, the state chambers reminded the lawmakers that the current bill, MAP-21, will expire in less than six months. The bill is slated to expire on September 30.
- See more at: http://www.betterroads.com/31-state-chambers-push-for-5-year-transportation-bill/#sthash.cDRALV2z.dpuf
Several state chambers — 31, to be exact — are urging Congress to pass a five-year surface transportation reauthorization bill. - See more at: http://www.betterroads.com/31-state-chambers-push-for-5-year-transportation-bill/#sthash.cDRALV2z.dpuf

Will Women Ever Feel Completely Safe on Mass Transit?

http://www.theatlanticcities.com/commute/2014/03/will-women-ever-feel-completely-safe-mass-transit/8728/

By Ann Friedman, March 27, 2014



 Will Women Ever Feel Completely Safe on Mass Transit?

Somewhere in a major American city, every Saturday night, a woman tells her friends that she's about to leave a party. Alone. Whether she's going to take the subway, or head to the bus stop, or simply walk, if it's after midnight a fellow partygoer will almost always pull out a phone and say, "No, no. Let me call you a cab."

Her friends are genuinely concerned for her safety, and often that concern is warranted. But it's also a sign that certain classes of city dwellers — the ones who can afford iPhones and the occasional cab ride — simply accept that public spaces, especially at night, are places where women can't expect to feel safe.

I've watched this "call a cab" interaction dozens of times, and never thought of it in terms of broader trends in public transit ridership. Ridership on U.S. public transportation has reached its highest levels (in raw numbers, at least) since the mid-1950s. There's a complex set of explanations for this resurgence, but a big part of it boils down to money. When the cost of driving gets too high, or when gas prices get too unpredictable, more people take the train or the bus.

And so most American transit riders tend to be lower-income. They also tend to be women, who of course work in lower-paid jobs. American women of all ethnicities accounted for a greater share of transit trips than men in 1997 (below); far more recent commuting figures show a similar breakdown, with 114 women taking transit to work for every 100 men. In many cases, these are the women who take public transit because it's the only financially viable option.


 
"Women overall are more dependent on transit than men, for low-income households in particular," says Anastasia Loukaitou-Sideris, an urban planning professor at UCLA. "If there is one car, it's most often the man who drives the car."


Women who aren't bound to the bus by economic necessity cite reliability and convenience as reasons they choose to stick with their cars. That's more or less what men say. But women, regardless of income, tend to have an additional factor: safety. In a 2007 survey, 63 percent of New York City subway riders said they'd been harassed on a train, and 10 percent reported having been assaulted. It seems safe to assume that most of those riders were women. Among those who merely witnessed harassment or assault on public transit, 93 percent reported that the victim was female.

It's no wonder there's a gender gap when it comes to transit riders' concerns. But there's also a gender-class gap, between the women who can simply refuse to ride because of those concerns and those who have to get on the bus anyway. "Women tend to be more fearful in public environments like the bus stop than when they're on the bus or on the train," says Loukaitou-Sideris. This makes sense: on the bus there are often other travelers, but at the bus stop you might be alone. Even then there are exceptions; late at night, a woman might find herself on the train with only one other passenger she doesn't trust, just the two of them in an enclosed space.

This is all too familiar. I can picture the many uncomfortable subway rides I've had in my life. I'm just as nervous being stuck in a subway car with only one or two other people than I am in a packed subway car where there's the threat of being anonymously groped. The city I call home, Los Angeles, has ample buses and trains. I take them at peak times, when they're likely to be more crowded. But late at night, they tend to be pretty empty. If I know I'm going to be out late, I almost always opt to drive myself or take a cab.

These concerns often don't show up in surveys of transit riders. The bus or the subway is "this unique public space," says Camille Fink, a senior editor at the American Planning Association who compiled a visual ethnographic report on L.A. buses. "Census data doesn't tell us how women are experiencing those spaces. For women there are issues of safety and personal space. It's hard then to make a connection between how it affects the travel decisions they're making."

But there is definitely a connection, says Loukaitou-Sideris. "A number of [women] perceive the private automobile as the safest mode of transportation, so they will save money to try to buy an automobile," she says, "or restrict their activity to certain times of day to not have to take public transit at night."
How getting from here to there is changing forever.
See full coverage
As cities try to figure out how to boost transit ridership, and unpredictable gas prices force people to reconsider their commute, the threat of harassment and assault has been granted surprisingly little airtime. But short of solving the widespread societal problems of harassment and sexism — a tall order for even the most committed activist — there are piecemeal solutions cities can undertake to convey to women that they care about their safety on public transportation.

Several cities have actively discouraged harassment on buses and trains with campaigns that send the message such behavior isn't tolerated. In 2008, transit authorities in Boston created a series of PSAs targeting would-be subway gropers. "Rub against me and I'll expose you," the ads read. They were later adopted by transit officials in Chicago, New York, and Washington, D.C. In all of these cities, the PSAs were rolled out along with easier ways for women to report harassment and assault. Many of the ads encouraged women to take a photo of the perpetrator with their cellphone camera and submit it to authorities. In the first year, there was a huge spike in harassment reporting in Boston. The number of groping complaints increased by nearly 74 percent and the number of arrests for indecent assault and battery went up 85 percent.

In a boon to transit riders of all genders, cities could also commit to providing reliable information on when the next train or bus is arriving. No one likes to wait around for the bus in the cold, or sweat it out on a subway platform in the heat of summer. But for women, such waits are uncomfortable for other reasons, too. "Women very much would like to have real-time info for buses," Loukaitou-Sideris says. "The city of Portland has that, where you go to the bus stop and you can see when the next bus is arriving." She sees apps like Next Bus as a good start, but notes that city transit authorities have to cooperate fully in order for them to really work.


An anti-harassment ad in the Washington, D.C. Metro system. 

One of the most publicized solutions to women's concerns about public transit has been the creation of gender-segregated subway cars in countries like Japan, Mexico, and India. But there isn't much evidence to suggest these women-only cars have addressed the big-picture concerns women have with public transit. After all, buses and train cars are confined public spaces that reflect the problems women have elsewhere in society. "Overall, I did not find public transit as a more dangerous setting than walking on the street or in other parts of the city," says Loukaitou-Sideris.

While that may be good news to transit officials, it probably won't provide much comfort to women, who are going to continue to either call a cab or muster their courage and head to the bus stop.