By Ken Alpern, March 17, 2015
GETTING THERE FROM HERE-This
article is dedicated to someone who almost everyone knew in the circles
of transit advocacy--Ken Ruben, who just passed away at the age of 72.
He was a sweet and outgoing man whose passion for transit and mobility
knew no bounds. From his hometown of Culver City to the headquarters at
Metro, he was a regular attendee in meetings of Southern California
Transit Advocates and The Transit Coalition.
Ruben (photos) was affected by many of the ills facing LA County (as
well as all major metropolitan regions): lack of mobility, lack of
affordable housing, and lack of job opportunities. Major cities/urban
areas usually like to presume that they have the majority of the
enlightened residents, but urban streets are often the "mean streets"
with respect to upkeep and allowing middle-class jobs--and the money for
their upkeep always goes somewhere...else.
currently-proposed Measure "R-2" isn't just about more transit lines
and freeway projects. It's also about repairs and operations. We can't
have more transit lines if we don't have enough trains and properly
maintained rail lines. Ditto for roads and freeways--they can't be
allowed to fall into disrepair, and the money that is supposed to go for
their upkeep is to be spent for that purpose ONLY.
we need to have a Measure "R-2", and maybe we don't. I'm inclined to
think we do need it, but without spending restraints it's best we not do
more taxes--because otherwise the money gets diverted towards "the
general budget" or a public sector union raise we just can't afford (and
we're still trying to recover from the spending orgies that local
governments throughout the state embarked upon between 2000-2009).
If we do create a "Measure R-2", then the following is needed:
Create a nexus between employer taxes/developer fees and the mobility
needed to make businesses and developments thrive. Keep the taxes/fees
local and relevant, and there will be less resistance to their payment.
Separate the flimsy and nebulous promises of "affordable housing" for
megadevelopments and require specifically-defined senior affordable
housing, student affordable housing, and workforce affordable housing,
and make sure that "affordable" is equated with "you don't need a car to
lots and structures matter. Too many jobs change that require
long-distance driving, and if our transit lines have no place to put
parking, commuters will often not use transit they'd otherwise use. If a
development wants to weasel out of its parking requirements, then let
the equivalent money be required for creation of parking in the
area--this is a big-time cost that shouldn't be ignored under the guise
of being "pro-transit".
Bus shelters matter. Treating bus commuters as inhuman or lower life
forms won't encourage transit. They should be located appropriately,
and should be built with the understanding that convenience and dignity
are basic human rights.
Coordinate Metrolink and MetroRail. For example, why are the proposed
Eastside Light Rail Extension bus stops not co-located next to Metrolink
stations? Furthermore, why are the funding and operations of Metrolink
so screwy? With Art Leahy moving from leadership of Metro to
Metrolink, the time is NOW to make sure that long-distance commuters
have pedestrian-friendly links that make sense.
Coordinate bus service and MetroRail service. Why will light rail
lines like the Expo Line start earlier and end later than local bus
services such as Culver City Bus and the Santa Monica Big Blue Bus? How
are workers and other commuters supposed to access the Expo Line
without bus linkage...and if there is woefully insufficient parking on
the Expo Line, how are commuters supposed to get to the stations?
Telecommuting and staggered work shifts are still valid ways to keep
people employed and not deal with our nightmarish traffic. Are there
policies in place that reward businesses that use these policies to keep
commuters off the roads during peak traffic times?
The late Ken Ruben has a nice online tributeand
I'm pretty sure he would have appreciated the aforementioned ideas. LA
City and County need not be the mean streets for those who just want a
job and an opportunity to live with dignity--let's make any Measure
"R-2" or other efforts one that establishes transportation operations
that work, and which benefit the lives of everyone.