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

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Active Transportation Strategic Plan Open House Workshops

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The Valley: Finally Getting Its Fair Share of the Transportation Pie


By Ken Alpern, July 21, 2015


GETTING THERE FROM HERE-To my neighbors in the San Fernando Valley, I say to you all:  "Relax, I come in peace."  While I've had lots of past criticism for the Valley political leadership in their failure to kill the Robbins bill that could have (and should have!) established the Orange Line as a light rail, and not a Bus Rapid Transit project, at least they're now showing vision. 

Perhaps the political climate is so different now that the San Fernando Valley can finally move beyond the knee-jerk opposition to rail, but the San Fernando Valley Council of Governments (COG) actually came out with a great list of what they're FOR, and not what they're against. 

Part of why it's so obnoxious that we have to pay twice for the Orange Line, which the COG now wants converted to light rail to increase the capacity of that very successful Busway, is that transportation advocates fought against that Busway for it to be done right, and were told that the Robbins Bill (which required only a Subway to be routed west of the Red Line through the Valley, not a surface light rail) was off-limits. 

But that was then, and this is now.  The San Fernando Valley COG also wants the Red Line Subway extended to Burbank Airport, more money to the Metrolink system, a light rail line or busway connection from the Sylmar Metrolink station to the Orange Line, and a Sepulveda Pass Transit Corridor to link the Valley with the Westside. 

And this would be paid for by a potential "Measure R-2" that is being worked on my Metro planners and politicians to further the wish-list of transportation projects that this City and County of L.A. are so overdue in funding, planning and building. 

It should be noted that: 

1) It wasn't that long ago that Caltrans and local politicians were all freaking out on how we could tackle the problematic 405/101 interchange and 405 widening projects.  We did it, with some but not enough help from Sacramento and Washington...but we've got more respect and support from those two capitols than ever because we put our own collective money where our mouth is. 

2) The projects linking the East Valley to the West Valley (I know, I know, most non-Valley residents don't distinguish the two regions from the other...but they should!), and the projects linking the West Valley to the Westside, are gigantic regional projects that have enormous implications for countywide regional connectivity, and even a rail/airport grid that is visionary and helpful for the 21st Century. 

So the Valley is getting their voice raised for a host of first-rate projects.  I realize that it doesn't get enough play, but both the 101 and 5 freeways should get their chokepoints widened so that a smoother driving experience can be created despite the crushing traffic.  That's part of mobility, too. 

It's not hard to visualize a light rail, perhaps underground or above ground when appropriate, is needed from the Metrolink station in Sylmar through the Sepulveda Pass, Westside, LAX and South Bay. It would need to be a rail line that could handle hundreds of thousands of commuters a day (like the Red and Purple Line Subways), but it would be both overdue and well-received by commuters and visitors in our county. 

Seems crazy?  Well, so is the idea of an Ocean To The Eastern Regions (OTTER) line, or whatever you want to call it...but the establish of the Expo and Gold Lines, and connecting Downtown Connector, will do just that. 

And the 405/101 interchange seemed like a crisis that was one for which we had no money or political will to fix. 

But we did it. 

And if the Valley can get out of the unhelpful world of "no", then it behooves the rest of the City and County of LA to do the same.

Monday, July 20, 2015

Interstate 10 closed east of Coachella after bridge collapse


July 20, 2015

A 30-foot section of a bridge on the 10 Freeway in Desert Center east of Coachella collapsed Sunday, closing Interstate 10 indefinitely.

A 30-foot section of a bridge on the 10 Freeway in Desert Center east of Coachella collapsed Sunday, closing Interstate 10 indefinitely.

The 10 Freeway was shut down from Desert Center to the Arizona state line as a result of the bridge collapse and heavy flooding, authorities said.

"This is the major thoroughfare, absolutely, between the Palm Springs area and the Arizona border," said Mike Radford from the California Highway Patrol. "It's going to be closed for a long time."

Firefighters responded at about 4:40 p.m. to the eastbound 10 Freeway east of Eagle Mountain Road to rescue a trapped driver, Riverside County fire officials said. The driver was freed after nearly two hours and taken to Desert Regional Medical Center in Palm Springs with moderate injuries. A passenger made it out earlier in the day.

Senate Banking Committee Slow to Take Up Transit Portion of Transpo Bill


By Tanya Snyder, July 17, 2015

The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee has unanimously passed the highway portion of a six-year transportation bill. The Commerce Committee has done its work on the rail and safety portion. The Finance Committee has the hardest job, the one that’s flummoxed Capitol Hill for six years now, but it’s held a hearing on transportation funding and Committee Chair Orrin Hatch says he’s confident they’ll get it done. But it’s the Banking Committee, with jurisdiction over transit, that’s the least far along with its work to complete a transportation bill.

Will the Banking Committee renew a yet-unused pilot grant program for TOD planning? 

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell wants the whole transportation issue to go away quickly and not come back until after the 2016 elections. Rather than take up the five-month extension the House passed earlier this week, McConnell has set up a Tuesday vote on a measure that will clear the way for the Senate to consider the bill, finished or not.

Banking Committee members have told the bill drafters their priorities for a bill, but no language has been released yet. If timing gets tight (and who are we kidding; it’s already tight), Committee Chair Richard Shelby could forgo committee consideration and bring his section of the bill directly to the floor. With transit defender Sen. Sherrod Brown of Ohio occupying the top Democrat seat on the committee, one hopes he’ll be able to help shape the bill.

The transit portion of MAP-21 included a $10 million transit-oriented development planning grant pilot program but has failed to award any funds so far. A pilot doesn’t do much good if it’s never utilized, so advocates hope the Banking Committee will extend the program to provide an opportunity to evaluate it (and that U.S. DOT will disburse the MAP-21 money already).

Another opportunity for TOD comes in the Commerce Committee bill, which included a provision to better use the underutilized Railroad Rehabilitation and Improvement Financing program, authorized at $35 billion. The bill would allow local communities and real estate developers to access the funds directly to finance transit-oriented development, including commercial and residential development around passenger rail stations.

Another noteworthy aspect of the Commerce Committee’s portion that we failed to mention when it came out and all we could talk about was the proposed elimination of TIGER: It includes a rail authorization. Despite the fact that rail runs on the surface, it’s historically been excluded from the surface transportation bill. With the current rail authorization expired since 2013, the Commerce Committee has the opportunity to correct that mistake, and they’re taking it. So far, it doesn’t look like the rail authorizations alters current policy very much, but we’ll keep you posted if we uncover a big change.

5-Cities Alliance Comment Letter

 Very interesting reading:


Sunday, July 19, 2015

ACTION ALERT: SGVCOG to Vote on $3.3 Billion Funding Recommendation 7/23!


July 18, 2015
 PictureComplete Streets, one option for the SGV
On Thursday July 23rd the San Gabriel Valley Council of Governments (SGVCOG) will host a special meeting to take action on formal recommendations on how the region should spend an estimated $3.3 billion in potential future sales tax revenues.

The hotly anticipated successor to Measure R, which has funded the expansion of LA County's rail network since 2008 - including the Foothill Gold Line extension - would likely be placed before voters in November 2016. However, before that can happen, the Metro Board will have to craft and approve a measure they feel will be supported by 2/3rds of County voters.

Should the region focus the lion's share of additional transportation investments on highways?  Public transit?  Pedestrian and bicycle improvements?

How these questions are answered will determine if a future measure will accelerate the region's transition to a more equitable, sustainable and multi-modal transportation system. 

SGVCOG Draft Recommendations

The SGVCOG's Transportation Committee recommends that revenue from a future transportation measure be spent in the following manner in the San Gabriel Valley.
  • 40% Transit - $1.32 billion for Foothill and Eastside Gold Line extensions and bus improvements
  • 39% Highways - $1.29 billion for Capacity and "efficiency" improvements to the 10, 60, 605, 71, 210 and 710 freeways
  • 7% Demand Based Program - High Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) extensions and connectors (i.e. freeways)
  • 6% Modal Connectivity - $198 million for First and Last Mile (to transit) and Complete Streets improvements
  • 5% Active Transportation - $165 million for pedestrian and bike facilities
  • 2% ITS/Technology - $65 million for advanced signal technology
  • 1% Goods Movements - $33 million for railroad crossing improvements
SGVCOG's proposed funding allocations for a 2016 ballot measure

BikeSGV Comments

As a sales tax would be paid by all residents of the SGV and LA County, BikeSGV strongly feels that any new transportation measure should improve the quality of life of all residents, especially residents of disadvantaged communities who are already disproportionately burdened by our current auto-centric system. 

Active Transportation
Although a great start, the 5% proposed for bicycle and pedestrian improvements is inadequate to address existing demand, let alone the historic under-funding of such projects in Measures A, C, and R, none of which included specific set-asides for active transportation improvements.

At present 19% of all trips in LA County are via foot or bike, yet less than 1% of all transportation funding goes towards making our streets safer and more comfortable for walking and biking. This remains a major problem in our region, not to mention a major barrier to higher bicycle modal share. BikeSGV urges the SGVCOG to support more robust funding for such improvements, like Alameda County which recently adopted an 8% set-aside for bike/ped. At the proposed level, the SGV would not be able to realize the build-out of the SGV Greenway Network; the SGV has over 100 miles of waterways, storm channels, washes and creeks that could serve as the backbone of our active transportation network and build upon existing San Gabriel and Rio Hondo river trails. Given the lack of Safe Routes to School and cohesive networks of bicycle infrastructure in most of the region's cities, the time for significant, long-term funding for walking and bicycling infrastructure is long overdue. 

  • 5% for active transportation is a strong start, but additional County-wide dollars will be needed for regionally significant bicycle projects. The SGV's Active Transportation set-aside should be at least 5% for walking and 5% for bicycling projects to address historic under-investment and growing demand. 
The SGVCOG currently suggests that 40% of expected revenue be spend on transit, specifically the extensions of the Gold Line to Claremont and South El Monte or Whittier. BikeSGV strongly supports additional investments in our Metro rail network, especially the Gold Line. However by limiting transit investments to 40%, the region will not have the resources to also invest in Bus Rapid Transit projects and other improvements needed to make the County's transportation system truly world-class. The current funding recommendation would also miss an opportunity to create Transit-to-Trails service, which could provide SGV residents without an automobile access to the San Gabriel Mountains National Monument and national forest areas.

When combined with the "Demand-Based Program", which also involves highway improvements, the SGVCOG's recommended set-aside for highways is the highest of any category at 46%. Should this move forward, it would be a missed opportunity for our valley and southern California as a whole. 

The SGV and LA Basin continue to suffer from some of the worst air quality in the entire United States, resulting in higher than average rates of asthma, respiratory illness, heart disease and premature death. Local air quality has also been getting worse in recent years due to increasing average temperatures and the lack of rain. Local communities, especially low-income neighborhoods in close proximity to a freeway, are disproportionately impacted by this pollution. Adding more cars and trucks to already congested highways in the SGV, rather than investing in cleaner, more comfortable and efficient transportation alternatives, will only increase the burden these communities carry for over 50 years of myopic transportation and land-use planning.  

Increasing highway "efficiency" (i.e. capacity) will also make it harder to reach state goals to reduce emissions from the transportation sector, the number one source of greenhouse gas emissions statewide, accounting for almost 40% of total GHG emissions. Furthermore, highway investments are highly unlikely to shorten anyone's commute over the long-term, as increases in roadway "supply" induce demand for more trips. The recent widening of the 405 freeway is a perfect example of this phenomenon. Despite adding an additional lane to one of the most congested freeways in the country, at a cost of well over $1 billion, average commute times have not improved, and residents of San Fernando Valley still do not have a convenient transportation alternative to the automobile if traveling to the Westside. Perhaps due to this failure, the San Fernando Valley Council of Governments has recommended its funding allocation be spent entirely on transit and active transit improvements.

  • Proposed funding allocation is highway-heavy and misses a historic opportunity to fund transformative transit opportunities such as Bus Rapid Transit lines connecting and complementing planned light rail extensions (e.g., Pasadena-Burbank)

7/23 Meeting Details - Join us!

The SGVCOG's public meeting to discuss this issue will be on Thursday July 23rd. Public participation is far too infrequent at these meetings, so we welcome your attendance and comments!

Thursday, July 23, 2015 – 3:00 PM
Rosemead Community Recreation Center
3936 North Muscatel Avenue, Rosemead, CA 91770

Friday, July 17, 2015

Paris Wants to Bid Adieu to Sexual Harassment on Public Transportation

After 100 percent of women surveyed in the French capital said they’d been subjected to unwelcome comments or touching on the Métro, the government decided to crack down.


By Liz Dwyer, July 16, 2015

 Paris subway.

Inappropriate touching, intimidating behavior, catcalling, wolf whistling, or rape. In April, a shocking survey conducted by France’s High Council for Equality between Women and Men found that 100 percent of women respondents who ride public transportation in Paris reported experiencing one of those forms of sexual harassment or assault. Now the French government is making good on a promise it made to crack down on the offensive behavior and make buses and trains safer for women.

To that end, last week government officials headed to a busy Paris subway station to launch a 12-point campaign to combat harassment. Pascale Boistard, France’s minister for women’s rights, told the crowd that sexual harassment “begins with salacious remarks [or] a hand on a behind” and “is also a much more serious aggression that goes as far as rape,” reported The Independent.

 So, Why Should You Care? Some men who engage in harassing behavior might think that as long as they’re not being violent, there’s nothing wrong with their actions—or that women secretly enjoy the attention. But according to the results of an international survey released in May by Cornell University and anti–street harassment group Hollaback!, 72 percent of women who responded said they had altered their transportation plans because of harassment on buses and trains.

The survey found an overwhelming number of women experience feelings of fear, anger, and anxiety because of unwanted attention from men. Sixty percent of women in the Parisian study reported feeling afraid of being attacked while riding a bus or train—something no one should have to deal with while trying to get to work or school.

 “The problem is that harassment on public transport has basically been trivialized. The figures are shocking. It exists everywhere, but it’s something young foreign women notice when they come to Paris,” Margaux Collet, a spokesperson for the advocacy group Dare Feminism, told The Local following the report’s release.

To help curb the behavior, awareness posters are being put up in subway cars, buses, and stations informing offenders that they can be thrown in jail for five years or be fined more than $82,000 for harassing another citizen.

The government is holding focus groups to help determine the stops on the Métro where riders feel most vulnerable to harassment. Officials will use that information to install additional lighting or boost the presence of law enforcement officers. Plans for expanding night bus service so that women don’t have to walk as far by themselves are also in the works. To empower bystanders who may observe women being harassed but are too afraid to speak up, a text message alert system has also been launched.

“These acts are not harmless, said Boistard. “They are punishable by law.”

Letter: Proposed 710 tunnel is a boondoggle


July 16, 2015

On June 18, the governing board of the San Gabriel Valley Council of Governments voted to support the tunnel alternative proposed to extend the I-710 north to the I-210 Freeway. The proposed tunnel alternative is one of five options studied in the SR-710 North Draft Environmental Impact Report/Environmental Impact Statement. This decision is disconcerting and irresponsible. The city of La Cañada Flintridge was one of several cities adamantly opposed to this decision.

The SGVCOG governing board voted to support this alternative without considering the true cost and impacts to the taxpayers. The vote of support took place prior to the release of the draft report’s cost-benefit analysis, which was published the day after the vote. As stewards of the taxpayer dollar, the elected officials on the board who voted in favor of this ill-conceived project should have reviewed the economics of this project prior to taking a vote.

Furthermore, the draft report concedes that if the tunnel is built, 90% of motorists would either receive no travel-time savings or their commute would actually worsen. Only a small percentage of travelers would benefit, with an estimate 2.5-minute travel-time savings. Spending $3 billion to $5 billion to save 2.5 minutes of travel time for 10% of commuters is a bad choice.

L.A. County has a backlog of numerous transportation infrastructure projects waiting for funding. Many of these projects could benefit from the billions of dollars that will be wasted on this tunnel boondoggle. Those projects would benefit far more commuters.

Economics aside, if built, the tunnel alternative will increase traffic onto the 210 Freeway, elevating pollution and decreasing air quality for the children playing outdoors at the 20 schools located along the freeway.

The SGVCOG should have never gotten involved in such a contentious matter. The members of its governing board unnecessarily involved themselves in an issue that only serves to divide our region and did so without consideration of the cost-benefit to taxpayers and commuters.

The city of La Cañada Flintridge is a member of the five-city Connected Communities Coalition, representing the shared concerns of the cities of Pasadena, South Pasadena, Glendale, Sierra Madre and La Cañada Flintridge. Together, the coalition supports a much less expensive and less invasive approach to congestion relief that includes street widening coupled with bus and rail improvements. The San Gabriel Valley Tribune Editorial Board recently came out in support of the Connected Committees Coalition, and its “Beyond the 710” proposal (beyondthe710.org). The group continues to garner support for its approach to regional congestion management.

The public comment period for the draft report has been extended from July 6 to Aug. 5. I encourage every resident to submit comments for review and get involved in this important decision-making process. For more information visit the project website: dot.ca.gov/dist07/resources/envdocs/docs/710study/draft_eir-eis/.

Terry Walker

Council Member
City of La Cañada Flintridge
LCF Representative to SGVCOG

SGVCOG Supports the Completion of the 710 Tunnel

on June 18th,  the San Gabriel Valley Council of Government's Governing Board voted in support of closing the 710 gap via tunnel. "The completion of the 710 gap has been a long-standing transportation priority of the SGVCOG". Read more from their letter of support here:

LA Street Hazard: The City Bus is a Moving Traffic Jam


By Bob Gelfand, July 17, 2015


GELFAND’S WORLD-I was tempted to start this piece with the demand that we get rid of the damned busses. But I'm not looking for click bait so much as I'm interested in making a point that hasn't been discussed very much. Here it is: The standard city bus and the standard city are just not design-compatible. The city has streets that are narrow and congested. The bus is too wide for those streets. As a result, the city bus is a moving traffic jam. 

Every time a bus stops to load and unload passengers, it sticks out into traffic. If you are the unlucky driver sitting behind that bus, you just have to wait. That's because the bus does not leave enough room for you to go around. 

The standard bus, like the ones that GM used to build, covers about 40 feet in length and 8.5 feet in width. Compared to the modern compact car, that bus is about half again wider, as a compact car can be as little as 5.5 feet in width, and more often is about 6 feet. The 3 feet doesn't seem like much of a difference, but street width is limited, and lanes are designed to move traffic and to allow for the average sized car to park along the curb. If you were to add another 2.5 feet to the width of a parked car, you would have an impediment that sticks out into the lane and blocks traffic. 

And that's exactly what the bus does when it pulls up at its bus stop. It creates a temporary halt to all the traffic behind it. 

And yes, there are exceptions. If the road is wide enough, the traffic engineers can make that right hand lane really wide, wide enough to accommodate not only a parked bus, but automotive traffic too. But this is not usually the case when it comes to our congested streets. In a crowded city, the traffic engineers will try to squeeze in as many lanes as they can on each busy street. They don't have the room to leave that extra 6 pr 8 feet along the curb that would allow for you to pass a stopped bus. 
The result is that when it comes to life in the big city, we either have efficient automotive flow or we have busses. 

The problem is that we can't just wave our magic wand and get rid of the d--- busses. They are currently a necessary part of our civilization. They move a lot of people who otherwise wouldn't be able to get around. They are also uncomfortable to ride in, polluting, and noisy. These are all consequences of design requirements. If you want lots of busses that can carry 30 or 40 people all day long over city streets, which necessitates thousands of starts and stops, you have to build the busses to be strong and stable. That means that they are big and bulky and potentially noisy. 

I won't go into the problems that diesel exhaust creates (at least in this piece), but they are significant. Try looking up the expression ultrafine particles if you want to get an idea. The standard diesel powered bus or truck leaves a plume of unhealthy particulate matter trailing behind it. 

So is there a solution, or is this just another Los Angeles resident complaining about the traffic? 

I think that the answer is somewhere in between these two extremes. If we are to redesign our transportation system here in Los Angeles so as to make life better for the next generation, then we have to think about a comprehensive redesign of the whole system. That means we should think about the way that we build and use our new light rail lines so that more people will be able to get to them easily. And it means a redesign of city streets to reduce the current system of stop and go driving. 

Rethinking the modern city is obviously going to require that we rethink the concept of the 8.5 foot wide bus straddling the 12 foot lane. We might, for example, try rethinking the system of intermingling wide busses and smaller cars on narrow city streets. Dedicated bus lanes already exist, but their use has been fairly limited in the big cities where most of us travel. 

Another possibility is a radical redesign of the current bus. It wouldn't be an easy task, but it ought to be possible. Most designs for smaller busses concentrate on making them shorter as opposed to narrower. City planners ought to be talking to vehicle manufacturers about building a narrower, shorter bus that can move in and out of automobile lanes without acting as a mobile traffic jam. 

An even more radical redesign of the modern city would involve replacing many of the bus lines with a system of personal rapid transit. I've made no secret of the fact that I am interested in this concept, because it solves the problem that other approaches do not. It goes up in the air, where there is room to build extra transportation capacity, and thereby avoids adding more vehicles to our already jammed streets and highways. Whether we will have the political will to make this kind of change is the most significant sticking point. 

Just to illustrate how complicated this whole subject can be, let's consider briefly an essay that argues for more busses and less light rail.  James V. DeLong, writing for the Reason Foundation, cites cost figures and ridership of bus, rail, and autos in Los Angeles as well as other cities. His conclusion is that light rail typically makes commuting even more difficult than older bus routes, because the introduction of light rail causes cities to abolish some of their bus routes. The poorer commuters who lack cars are forced to travel by bus to get to the train, and then at the end of their train journeys, to take another bus to get to their destinations. 

The economic arguments made in DeLong's essay may be legitimate, in the sense that building and operating fleets of busses involves economic savings over the costs of gaining railway rights of way, building the rail lines, and paying off the bonded debt that usually goes into such projects. 

But DeLong's essay involves a different perspective than the one I am trying to develop here. I'm not arguing the existence of busses, but the way that the current bus design is a misfit for the way our streets are arranged. 

Some designers are beginning to argue that the new generation of driverless cars will be the solution to our transportation problems. The idea seems to be that the average family will buy and own fewer cars. We won't need to be 2 and 3 car families because we will have access to a fleet of robot vehicles. You might think of it as having access to a taxi cab whenever you need it, without the labor costs that go into paying a cab driver for his time and investment. Whether this could work efficiently and safely is a question yet to be answered. 

In any case, the current system whereby Angelenos sit in traffic behind diesel particulate belching trucks and busses is something that ought to be considered from the design perspective. It needs to be considered from the bottom up, rather than in terms of patchwork semi-solutions. Since the design of the current day city bus would be one of the easier redesigns, we ought to start thinking about that redesign in a serious way.

Throwback Thursday: Here Comes the Train


By Jason Islas, July 2015

The train’s a-comin’! Expo testing is scheduled to extend all the way to 4th Street today, marking the first time a passenger train has been west of Lincoln Boulevard in decades.

At the turn of last century, trains brought freight and visitors to Santa Monica regularly. Photo via KCET
At the turn of last century, trains brought freight and visitors to Santa Monica regularly. 

It won’t be long before getting from Downtown Santa Monica to Downtown Los Angeles is as easy as hopping a train. While many have come to know Los Angeles as a car-dominated town, that’s quickly changing with the growing rail network and extensive bus service. But before this city got its car-centric reputation, it was first a rail town.

Starting in 1875, freight and passengers could travel between Downtown Los Angeles and Santa Monica — before it really had anything that could be considered a downtown — by train.
By the turn of last century, Santa Monica was flourishing as a beach destination.

By 1912, Santa Monica had full-fledged daily passenger service as part of vast and sprawling rail network. In a brochure from 1910, Pacific Electric advertised a “Balloon Route Excursion” for only a dollar. The route ran from Downtown L.A. to Santa Monica, then south to Venice and Playa del Rey before returning eastward.

A brochure advertising the Balloon Route, circa 1910. From pacificelectric.org.
A brochure advertising the Balloon Route, circa 1910. From pacificelectric.org.

The “Balloon Route” promised passengers glimpses of exciting sites:
  • Largest Oil District in Southern California
  • The Beautiful Driveways of Sunset Boulevard and Prospect Boulevard
  • The Modern ‘Garden of Eden’ — Beautiful Hollywood
Largest Beanfields in Southern California

Then, the train would stop north of Santa Monica Canyon, offering passengers a chance to see the long wharf at Port Los Angeles. Now lost to history, the long wharf was Santa Monica founder and Nevada Senator John P. Jones’ attempt to make Santa Monica the primary shipping port for Los Angeles. Eventually, Jones lost out to San Pedro.

Passengers were then treated to a stop at “Santa Monica by the Sea, Southern California’s Oldest Beach, with Panoramic View at the Great Camera Obscura,” followed by a jaunt at “Pretty Ocean Park with a Delightful Ride on the Roller Coaster over the Sea.”

The Balloon Route, which was “endorsed by thousands,” continued south before returning eastward by a different route. Its promoters also boasted that it passed “through orange, lemon, olive, walnut and fig groves.”

Passenger service continued to the beach city along the Santa Monica Air Line into the middle of last century. The line was used for freight trains until 1988, when the track was officially abandoned.

Earlier this month, for the first time since 1953, an electric passenger train crossed into Santa Monica as Metro began testing on Expo Phase II. If all goes as planned, Expo II will open in early 2016, ushering in a new era of passenger train travel in West Los Angeles. The future is almost here and it looks vaguely like the past, only better.

LAX votes to allow Uber, Lyft passenger pickups


By Brian Watt, July 16, 2017

Los Angeles has moved toward becoming the biggest city in the U.S. to allow ride-hailing services like Uber and Lyft to pick up passengers at the airport.

“The only place that we can come and make money is at the airport,” said Paul Ero, a taxi driver in Los Angeles for the last 19 years. “Now they want to take that away from us, so they can bring Uber in without any kind of regulations.”

Ero joined a group of taxi drivers outside the airport administration building before the commissioners' meeting. They held signs with slogans like “sharing economy is a disaster for workers” and  wore yellow t-shirts that read "Uber driver or convicted felon? BOTH."

Dozens of taxi drivers testified before the Board of Airport Commissioners that allowing the ride-sharing services to pick up passengers at the airport would put taxi drivers out of business.

UCLA Labor Center Research Director Saba Waheed analyzed taxi meter data from the L.A. Department of Transportation and found that, between 2013 and 2014, taxi ridership in Los Angeles dropped by 18 percent. But taxi trips to and from LAX increased during the same period.

“It shows that the new services are actually cutting into the taxi industry in all places, except at the airport,” Waheed told KPCC. “It means that the airport is really the last lifeline for taxis in Los Angeles.”

But airport commissioners said they’d heard from a lot of consumers who wanted the choice of calling an Uber or a Lyft driver and voted unanimously to let the services operate under certain regulations.

Lyft driver Lauren Szendrei said she uses her driving income to pay off student loans and that arriving passengers at the airport were going out of their way to call on services like hers.

“They will take a shuttle off the airport grounds, go to local hotels, just in order to request us,” Szendrei said.

Pickups could begin as early as August, according to the Associated Press, but the plan is still subject to final approval from the airport and the city attorney.

The proposal includes a digital "fence" that would tell the airport when a driver from one of the services enters or leaves the terminal area, KPCC confirms.

Currently, the drivers are allowed to drop off passengers but not pick them up, according to the AP. Under the proposed changes, they'd have to pay a $4 fee to do either.

Update: Metro schedule for 2016 Potential Ballot Measure


By Jessicam, July 16, 2015

Metro Schedule

At the July 5th Metro Ballot Measure and Long Range Transportation Plan (LRTP) Technical Advisory Committee (TAC), Metro staff shared a updated timeline for the development of the potential 2016 Ballot Measure.  A key element of this schedule update is Metro is asking stakeholders to submit in writing their initial input for the framework of this Ballot Measure by September 1st.

Investing in Place will be sharing our input with partners over the next several weeks, leading up to our next partner meeting on September 9th.  Please reach out to Jessica Meaney if you’d like to be involved in developing our letter.  It will be guided by the input we have been gathering over the past 7 months at our partner meetings.

If you are submitting a letter by the September 1st deadline, we encourage you to send it to Investing in Place so we can post on our blog and share with partners the variety of stakeholder frameworks/goals for this potential ballot measure across the County and support partnerships on shared common outcomes for this developing expenditure plan.

We also encourage our partners to consider attending the monthly LRTP/Ballot Measure Technical Advisory Committee meetings, they are open to the public.  They happen the first Wednesday of each month from 11am – 12:30pm at Metro headquarters. There will not be a meeting of this TAC in August as most Metro committees are dark for the month.  To sign up to receive the LRTP/Ballot Measure agenda materials, email Patricia Chen at ChenP@metro.net.

CBS2 Investigates: CalTrans Accused Of Being Slumlord By LA Tenants


July 16, 2015

See website for a video.

LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — In a CBS2 investigation, tenants in one Southland community are calling their landlord a slumlord.

Rene Uribe of El Sereno says he has mold hidden under the flooring of his bathroom.
“It’s dangerous,” he said.

Virginia Flores says she has mold on her bathroom wall.

“It looks like it’s eaten up the whole wall,” she said.

For Lisa Almeida, it’s cracks.

“You see how it’s cracking, chipping? And you see that crack already starting to lead up?” she asked.
Tina Moreno is concerned about the safety of her foundation.

“I have a sinkhole under my house and in my bathroom I have mold,” she said.

These tenants all have one thing in common: They rent their homes from CalTrans, CBS2/KCAL9’s David Goldstein reports.

“All CalTrans tenants know them as slumlords,” Almeida said.

Residents say they’ve been living with these conditions for years and have been complaining to city inspectors and county inspectors. And they claim no one will do anything.

The homes are part of 460 properties CalTrans purchased for the proposed extension of the 710 Freeway in Pasadena and Alhambra.

Some were bought as far back as 1954, and under state regulations, are being rented to low and moderate-income families.

Uribe has lived in his residence for 13 years.

“We advised them of it. Every time they come for the annual inspection, they say we’ll send someone and nobody ever comes,” he said of the mold, which she says has been there for at least a year.
Flores has lived in her residence for 20 years.

“I have complained to the rental agent that works for CalTrans and I told him I had mold and a sink that leaks water when you’re taking a shower,” she said.

“He said they would get back to me.”

All fear health problems because of the conditions.

“I’ve been living here for 19 years,” Moreno said, adding that she uses a hotplate to cook because she fears a gas leak.

“I haven’t had a stove because I’m afraid to cook because I’m afraid it’s going to blow up because I hear it bubbling a lot,” she said.

At this point, she’d like to get out but doesn’t have the money.

“I wanted them to relocate me or just give me some kind of money to hep me,” she said.
CalTrans refused to provide anyone for an on-camera interview.

The agency would only release the following statement to CBS2/KCAL9: “The health and safety of our tenants and our rental units is a priority.”

As far as the mold, the spokesperson continued: “Lab results have all come back negative for black mold, and further indicated that the issues reported were neither toxic nor harmful to tenants.”

When asked for the lab results, CalTrans initially provided heavily redacted reports, with the addresses of the properties, as well as the name of the technician that approved the findings, hidden.
The agency did eventually send copies with addresses.

In testing for stachybotrys, or black mold, the most dangerous, no traces were found. But there were plenty of findings for other mold, which residents says could lead to asthma and other health conditions.

State Sen. Carol Liu authored a bill two years ago forcing CalTrans to sell the homes, with the renters getting a first shot. The state expects that to begin later this year.

“They have over the past 50, 60 years, have not been good landlords,” Sen. Liu said. “CalTrans does not need to be in the real estate business, and they know it and we’re encouraging them to get out of the business and they want to get out of the business too.”

Within days after CBS2/KCAL9 first alerted CalTrans we were doing an investigation, residents say inspectors were out at the houses making some repairs. The residents insisted the repairs that were made were still not enough.

What Is the Future of L.A.’s Transit?

Los Angeles

What Is the Future of L.A.’s Transit?

Phillip Washington

The Plaza on Olvera Street
El Pueblo De Los Angeles
Los Angeles, CA
Parking information available here.
A Zócalo/Metro Event
Moderated by Conan Nolan, General Assignment Reporter, NBC4
What does Phillip Washington, the new CEO of the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro), think is the future of transportation in his new home in L.A. County? Washington comes to Los Angeles after six years heading Denver’s Regional Transportation District in a period of rapid growth, particularly for rail. In the midst of the recession, he secured $1 billion in federal grants and completed planned rail expansion on time and under budget. Washington, who grew up on the south side of Chicago, is also a veteran of the U.S. Army, where he served for 24 years and earned the highest non-commissioned officer rank an enlisted person can achieve. In Los Angeles County, Washington will be presiding over major projects that include five new rail lines, the widening of the 5 freeway, and massive bike lane expansion. What does Washington think L.A.’s transit priorities should be, and what is his vision for the region? How does he see Angelenos getting around five, 10, and 25 years from now? Washington visits Zócalo to talk about how his experiences in Denver and the military have prepared him to run Metro, where L.A. fits into America’s larger transit landscape, and the politics of urban transportation today.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

House passes five-month transportation funding extension


By David Lawder, July 15, 2015

The U.S. House of Representatives passed a five-month transportation funding extension on Wednesday aimed at avoiding an Aug. 1 road construction slowdown but that does nothing to revive the idled U.S. Export-Import Bank.

House Republicans passed the measure less than 48 hours after its introduction in a move that conservatives in the party said would give them an advantage over Ex-Im backers in the Senate, who aim to use their version of the bill as a vehicle to renew the trade bank's charter, which expired on June 30.

Passed by a 312-119 bipartisan vote, the House bill would authorize federal spending on highway and rail transit projects through Dec. 18 and inject about $8.1 billion into the rapidly dwindling Highway Trust Fund.

It would be paid for by extending higher airport security fees levied on airline tickets for two more years, to 2026, and with revenue from tax changes aimed at improving compliance and collections.

While Republicans and Democrats both said they would rather pass a six-year transportation bill, they have been unable to agree on where to find the hundreds of billions of dollars needed to fund it.

Many House Republicans are eyeing revenue captured from repatriating some $2 trillion in U.S. corporate profits held overseas, but say that must be part of a broader international corporate tax reform plan that needs more time to develop.

"We want to do a multi-year highway bill," House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Paul Ryan said on the House floor. "We know we’re not going to write that bill in the next two weeks. We know we need at least two or three months."

The Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee was set to consider its own transportation funding plan later on Wednesday.

Senate Democrats and moderate Republicans aim to try to attach a renewal of the Ex-Im Bank's charter to a Senate transportation bill, and conservative Republicans vowed on Wednesday to try to stop them.

Senator Ted Cruz, a Republican presidential candidate, urged Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and House Speaker John Boehner to block an Ex-Im amendment, which would show they are "more than campaign conservatives."

"I am willing to use any and all procedural tools to stop this corporate welfare, this corruption, from being propagated," Cruz told reporters.

But in a test vote last month, 65 senators voiced support for Ex-Im, enough to overcome procedural hurdles in the Senate.

Video by Joe Cano: Alhambra 710 Day Deception

Watch the Los Angeles Metro Rail Map's Spectacular Growth From 1990 to 2026


By Bianca Barragan, July 15, 2015


In honor of the Blue Line and Metro rail's twenty-fifth birthday yesterday, Metro's put together a sort of online, ongoing party—a website with tons of information on their art tours and concerts (free!), as well as a badass animated map that charts how Los Angeles's rail lines have grown since 1990. Click the autoplay button and watch as the Red Line extends three times, as the Gold Line branches out to the east, and into the future, when the Crenshaw Line is helping to better connect people to LAX, the Regional Connector links light rail lines through Downtown, and the Expo Line and Gold Line extensions—both under construction now and readying to open next year—are up and running. By 2026, when the Purple Line subway extension to Century City is complete, Metro will have 113 miles of rail lines across the county.

 City is complete, Metro will have 113 miles of rail lines across the county.

Long Beach sues Caltrans, OCTA over 405 Freeway widening project


By Eric Bradley, July 14, 2015


Looking South on the 405 Freeway, from Seal Beach Boulevard. Orange County approved toll lanes on the 405 from Seal Beach to Costa Mesa. Seal Beach Calif., Monday July 28, 2014

Long Beach is suing Caltrans and the Orange County Transportation Authority over the $1.7 billion project to expand the 405 Freeway.

The City Council authorized the city attorney in closed session Tuesday to file the lawsuit challenging the environmental documents filed with the plan, which widens the 405 by four lanes through Orange County to just past the Long Beach border.

“We don’t believe it adequately mitigates the impacts to the residents of Long Beach,” City Attorney Charles Parkin said.

The city is seeking additional measures to reduce the impact of increased traffic on local streets, according to Parkin.

OCTA spokesman Joel Zlotnik said in an email the organization could not comment specifically on the lawsuit without seeing it.

“We have worked closely with Long Beach and every other city along the freeway, and this is disappointing for the hundreds of thousands of people we are trying to help throughout Southern California who get stuck in 405 traffic day after day,” said Zlotnik.

During Tuesday’s meeting, Mayor Robert Garcia addressed the issue on Twitter, writing, “The project as planned is unacceptable and would have significant impacts to Long Beach. We will fight this in court.”

The environmental impact report for the 405 expansion lists five intersection that will see improvements in Long Beach related to the widening plans, but assigns about 7-25 percent of the cost for the upgrades to OCTA. The rest is expected to be picked up by the city.

“If we were not to sue, then the city would have to develop plans and identify funds to provide the sufficient mitigations for the traffic problems the OCTA project would cause,” said Arturo Sanchez, deputy city manager.

Construction on the 405 project is scheduled to start next year.

More than 370,000 cars use the stretch of freeway daily, and forecasts say the number will increase by 35 percent by 2040.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

From Place to Place: Shifting the Transportation Paradigm


By Ethan Kent

Progressive transportation planning may be in the midst of a boom, but is it on the right track to create the shift and vision that the movement is looking for? What might this vision look like, and how can we capture this momentum to effect real change in how we think about transportation planning?

How we leverage alternative modes of transport in creating places can make real contributions to broad-based community development strategies.

Advocates are finally bringing attention to issues like the impact and efficiency of multiple transport modes, the fair allocation of road space and spending, and opportunities to create more seamless transportation systems and commuter options. While each of these advances are extremely important, when advocated for and implemented in isolation of the others, they do not lead to structural change. By moving the transportation discussion beyond technical mobility solutions and modal shifts, we can generate integrative solutions for each of these issues.

At the most basic level, the goal of transportation planning should be to facilitate getting people to places – connecting travelers with destinations. In the broader effort to make people as mobile as possible, however, many of our transportation networks are accomplishing a great deal less at a much larger cost.

Focusing narrowly on mobility, without simultaneously addressing place and accessibility, can in fact contribute to issues of traffic congestion and safety, social segregation, isolated land uses, car-oriented building design, decreased walkability and longer travel distances – these are the very same issues that progressive transportation planners are seeking to address!

Planning for mobility has neglected, and often degraded, those places worth traveling to.

In both political and community-level discussions, this focus on mobility alone has overshadowed a more fundamental question: What kind of cities, communities, and streets do we actually want to have? Even advocates of “alternative modes” (transit, bicycles, pedestrians) are still largely working from within a mobility framework, although a small but growing advocacy sector is beginning to frame their approach around issues of accessibility and Placemaking.

Shifting the focus of these conversations from mobility to the creation of great places will ensure a political climate and public realm that is amenable to alternate modes of transit, while at the same time reducing the need for travel and creating community destinations where people actually want to be.  If we let it, transportation planning can become a driving force of community development. By re-envisioning our cities, transportation systems, and economies around viable destinations, we are also supporting the sustainable transportation modes of mass transit, walking and bicycling.

If you don’t have a parking or congestion problem, it’s not a good place.

Congestion relief efforts have suffered from this single-issue approach. Congestion prevents people from getting places, but the real problem is that today’s mobility-focused transportation planning creates traffic, because it is not supporting the creation of multiple places or destinations. The way to address congestion or parking “problems” is to create more, and more attractive, destinations to which people will want to travel! People will walk greater distances, park further away, or take less “convenient” transit in order to visit a great place – and this activity will not only help draw people back into a community’s public spaces, but it will also ensure the maintenance of strong local economies.

By focusing just on mobility for mobility’s sake, we have been moving people and goods around more and more and accomplishing less and less. Imagine, for a moment, the success and efficiency of the world’s best public markets or civic squares – places where individual mobility is lowest and parking demand and congestion are highest.

The town of Chester, CT, moved their farmers market from a parking lot on the edge of town to parking spaces on Main Street. Despite initial resistance, the newly-located market is now a celebrated regional destination. It has become so successful, in fact, that the city eventually closed the street to cars during markets, offering games, music, and other entertainment to visitors and pedestrians.

The best way to create a true paradigm shift in transportation is to create places where people want to be – places that can simultaneously support vital local economies along with healthy lifestyles and strong communities.

Pasadena Council Meeting 7/13/15 - Review of City Comments re SR-710 DEIR

(presentation @01:54:34; comments 02:22):


How to Breathe Easy in Polluted Cities

 Try these seven ways to lessen the burden on your lungs.


By Sarah O'Meara, July 14, 2015

 Image REUTERS/Barry Huang

 Residents wearing masks on a hazy day in Beijing, October 9, 2014.

Before leaving the house, residents of Delhi and Beijing are as likely to check the city’s Air Quality Index (AQI rating) as the weather forecast. Once the level of pollutants reaches a critical concentration—which varies by location—it’s no longer safe to breathe outdoors.

The Air Quality Index (AQI) associates a numerical value of particulates with a color and an advisory warning. (AirNow)
One quarter of the world’s population now breathes unsafe air, according to the 2014 Environmental Performance Index (EPI). The relationship between filthy air and poor health is frightening. Fine particulate matter, which comes from fuel combustion (such as from vehicle exhausts or coal-fired power plants), can easily penetrate our bloodstream and contribute to cardiovascular and lung disease. Last year, the World Health Organization reported that ambient air pollution contributes to one in eight of all deaths—that equated to 7 million deaths in 2012 alone.

Citizens have begun fighting back against the growing danger, pushing governments to release pollution figures, buying air filtration products in vast quantities, and becoming involved in grassroots campaigns to take back control of their environments. But there are also easy, affordable things you can do right now. Try these easy ways to reduce your exposure to bad air—in any city. 

Download predictive outdoor pollution apps

The number of sites and apps that offer predictive outdoor air quality reports is steadily growing. Last month, Microsoft launched an app that provides air quality information for more than 200 cities in China up to two days in advance. Your Weather combines data with weather forecasts to help city dwellers make better decisions about when and how to brave the air. In the U.S., the federal government’s Airnow website and mobile app offer a next-day AQI predictor. Earlier this year, to help residents navigate polluted Delhi, the Indian government launched the mobile app SAFAR-Air, complete with next-day air forecasting.


Install indoor air pollution sensors

Low-cost, high-accuracy sensors that measure air quality are a hot new area of technology startups. At the SXSW festival this year, Carnegie Mellon scientists unveiled their $200 Speck air pollution monitor, which can measure the concentration of fine pollutant particles in your home. In China, the $65 Laser Egg reader begins shipping this week. “The results we see from our Laser Egg are on par with professional equipment usually in the range of thousands or tens of thousands of dollars,”developer Liam Bates told Citylab.

Buy an air purifier—and keep it clean

Air purifiers are a staple in many urban homes. Although it might seem counterintuitive, it’s a good idea to turn off your air purifiers regularly to air out your home. Choose a day of low pollution and then open the windows one room at a time for at least 10 minutes, before sealing them shut and switching those purifiers back on. Doing so will allow stale air from the previous day out and allow relatively clean air back in.

If you’re in doubt of your purifier’s efficiency, start switching your filters up more often than the instructions suggest. Bear in mind that filters on air conditioning units may also become clogged more quickly in a smoggy area.

Invest in wearable technology

Wearable pollution sensors allow you to monitor your personal exposure. Inevitably, these kinds of sensors face a barrage of difficulties when recording accurate data outdoors, since pollution levels can change every second depending on external factors, such as traffic and weather patterns. However, the creators of keychain-sized gadget Clarity are confident the idea will catch on and eventually expect crowdsourced data from their product to help citizens gain a more complete picture of environmental hazards.

Other similar devices already on the market, or slated to arrive soon, include the AirBeam, the palm-sized device in the video above, as well as the Lapka PEM and the TZOA sensor, both of which can stream data to the wearer’s smartphone.

Create less indoor pollution

When measuring your personal AQI, it’s worth remembering that the air quality in your home sometimes bears no correlation to what is going outside. Many factors can affect the quality of indoor air, from cooking to burning incense. Also be sure to chuck major dust collectors, such as old cushions and heavily upholstered furniture.

Wear a respirator

Smog masks are becoming cool—as CNN noted, they even graced the runways at China Fashion Week last year. But in order to fully gain the benefits, you’ll need to purchase an air-purifying respirator, rather than a facial accessory made from cloth—a common sight in cities. Proper respirator masks make a seal with the face and have a filter to prevent contaminated air entering your mouth or nose.

Exercise at off hours

The jury’s still out as to whether the benefits of exercise outweigh the negative effects of pollution. Either way, to avoid inhaling polluted air deep into your lungs, experts suggest hitting the running track early in the morning or later in the evening to avoid the most pollutant-heavy times of the day.

The Clearest Explanation Yet for Why Millennials Are Driving Less

Shifting demographics matter, but shifting attitudes may matter more.


By Eric Jaffe, July 13, 2015

 Image Automotive Rhythms / Flickr

The ongoing discussion about Millennial driving trends is not about whether they’re declining, but why. It’s clear to all that young people are driving less today than they did in the past. But the reasons for these shifts in car use are what remain locked in seemingly endless debate.

Two theories lead the charge. The first is that demographic or economic factors are primarily to blame. Since so many Millennials are out of work or delaying the start of family life, they have less daily need to drive. That certainly makes sense. The second idea suggests that young people fundamentally have a different attitude toward cars than previous generations did at that age, instead preferring to live in the city longer and travel by multiple alternative modes. That’s also a logical conclusion, if a bit harder to quantify.

The truth might be a little of this, a little of that, and even some of the other. That’s the takeaway from a new analysis of Millennial driving habits from transport scholar Noreen McDonald of the University of North Carolina. Writing in the Journal of the American Planning Association, McDonald attributes 10 to 25 percent of the driving decline to changing demographics, 35 to 50 percent to attitudes, and another 40 percent to the general downward shift in U.S. driving habits.

She concludes:
Taken together, these trends lend credence to the idea that Millennials are increasingly “going nowhere.”

Both main theories are true

 There’s no shortage of attempts to explain Millennial driving behavior. What makes McDonald’s work especially useful and compelling is that she compared the travel patterns of Millennials (born between 1979 and 1990, by her definition) with those of Generation X (born 1967-1978) at the same age. So she looked at driving data (both trips and miles) from tens of thousands of individuals in 1995, 2001, and 2009 alike.

The cross-generational method is critical for determining reasons for the driving shifts. If demographics and economics were responsible for the decline, for example, then one would still expect an employed 25-year-old Gen X’er in 1995 to have similar car habits as an employed 25-year-old Millennial in 2009. But if generational attitudes are to blame, one would expect those numbers to diverge even with the underlying demographic factor holding steady.

Indeed, McDonald found both factors in play. Today’s young people certainly have a different demographic profile than the previous generation. Take 25-to-30 year olds. The share of those employed fell from 82 percent in 1995 to 73 percent in 2009—a nine-point dip. The drop was even greater for those who’d formed a household by that age: 16 points. Meanwhile, the share living in urban areas rose from 69 to 77 percent. All these indicators support the role of demographics in decreased driving; many Millennials simply lack the need or resources for cars.

But driving changes occurred when controlling for demographics, too. Let’s stick with 25-to-30 year olds and look at average daily driving mileage. Young people this age who were unemployed in 2009 drove 3.7 miles less a day than did young people who were that same age in 1995. The downward shift held for those who had a job (-7.1 miles), lived with their parents (-6.2), formed a household (-7.9), and resided in the city (-6.2) or even the country (-8.1). So demographics mattered, but a general mindset toward driving mattered as well.

McDonald writes:
Our analysis demonstrates that both of the theories about the causes of the decline in driving among Millennials are true: Declining travel is due to changing attitudes and perspectives about driving as well as lifestyle changes such as increased schooling, decreased employment, and delay in marriage and childbearing.

A few other notable trends

McDonald’s next step was assigning a relative impact of these causes on the decline in driving. As mentioned above, demographics accounted for 10 to 25 percent of the age-group decline between generations, or 1 to 2 miles a day (below, in dark gray). Attitude toward cars counted for 35 to 50 percent, or 2 to 4 miles a day (below, light gray). And the general decline in American vehicle mileage accounted for 40 percent, or 3.2-miles (medium gray):
A few other trends spotted by the research are worth noting:
  • As expected, driving declined for all age groups between 1995 and 2009. Unexpectedly, McDonald found that for ages 19 to 30 it peaked circa 1995—suggesting, contrary to some accounts, that the decline “is not exclusive to the Millennial generation” and actually began with younger Gen X’ers.
  • Also surprising, McDonald found little difference in multi-modal travel (public transit, biking, and walking) in 2009 compared with that of 1995. If Millennials really prefer these options more than Gen X, it isn’t showing up clearly in these numbers.
  • Young people in 2009 made fewer total trips than the previous generation, as opposed to shorter trips. Take 25-to-30 year olds: in 1995 they averaged 9.4 miles a trip, and in 2009 they averaged 10 miles a trip. A closer analysis showed Millennials were shedding work and personal business trips (as expected by a lower employment rate) as well as some social trips.
McDonald concludes:
This analysis provides evidence of a long-term decrease in automobility that started in the late 1990s with younger members of Gen X and has continued with the Millennial generation. The decrease in driving has not been accompanied by an increase in other modes of travel or a decline in average trip length, meaning that younger Americans are increasingly going fewer places.
So there you have it. McDonald’s work isn’t likely to put the debate about Millennial driving habits to rest, but it does add a highly informed layer to the discussion. And her advice about what planners and cities can do while all the data points find their place—encourage alternative travel modes, and improve forecasts about driving trends—is sound regardless of the exact reasons behind the shifts.