By Richard Read, June 26, 2014
Computers have brought us many great things. Online shopping. Streaming movies. Minecraft. And, lest we forget, variable speed limits.
"I felt like I was too good for the bus. ... I think there's a social understanding and a construction around that if you take the bus, you take it because you don't have money. There's a social standard. Obviously I had bought into that."But Jarrett Walker, who has designed transportation systems in multiple cities, says stigma and social standing are not what's keeping L.A.'s white folks in their cars.
"There is no reason to believe that Angelenos are irrational about their transportation choices. ... I believe a transportation system is reflective of its usefulness. The focus should be on making a more useful system. Do that, and [increased] diversity will be a side effect."Walker argues that the way to get bigger ridership more reflective of Los Angeles is to increase density along L.A.'s transit lines: add special transit lanes for buses (as the city is currently creating on Wilshire Boulevard) and push for transit-oriented developments (TODs) that feature high-density buildings filled with offices and housing near the major transit routes.
Buses get stuck in traffic, and their progress is further slowed by the constant need to merge back into the flow of traffic after pulling over to pick up passengers. Stop-and-go bus service discourages use, increasing traffic congestion by those who choose to drive instead.Wendell Cox, who served for three terms on the late Mayor Tom Bradley's Transportation Commission, is among those who criticize the push now underway in Los Angeles, and led by Metro and top elected officials, to create dense new business/housing corridors that theoretically will feed those who live and work there onto the transit lines.