June 29, 2015
A new survey from HNTB Corp. finds many Southern California residents
hungry for a more efficient multimodal transportation system, including
better scheduling and improved transferability from one mode to
“California is the most populated state in the nation, and we love our cars, so it’s no wonder our roads are extremely crowded,” said Michael Palacios, HNTB Southern California district leader.
According to the HNTB survey, 91 percent of Southern California
residents drive on freeways, highways or toll roads, on average, four
days a week. Looking back at the unofficial start of the summer travel,
AAA expected 2.31 million people in Southern California would hit the
road Memorial Day weekend, and 37 million Americans would do so overall.
These numbers were the highest estimates since 2005 as consumer
confidence is buoyed by an improved economy and lower gas prices.
“Rising congestion has put up a number of roadblocks to the Golden
State’s love affair with the automobile,” said Palacios. “It’s to the
point that we must address, particularly in Southern California, our
historical public transportation deficit.”
In recent years, Los Angeles has been doing just that, insisting on
better bus service and expanding its transit network – including the
Crenshaw/LAX, Purple Line Extension and Regional Connector projects –
through Measure R, a half-cent sales tax that took effect in July 2009.
Southern California residents want a more accessible and efficient
local transit system. The HNTB survey showed more than 4 in 5 (84
percent) would like to have greater access to local transportation
Today, just more than half (51 percent) of Southern California residents
use local public transportation. Sixty percent of those who use public
transportation use it at least once a week. Still, residents are hoping
for more ways to get around, such as walkways (37 percent), bike paths
(36 percent) and highways (29 percent).
“It’s about choice,” Palacios said. “We can’t necessarily build our
way out of congestion any more. But we can make the most of the systems
we do have by getting them to work better together.”
Southern California residents ages 18-54 are more likely than those
55 and older to desire greater access to public transit (52 percent
versus 39 percent), rails (42 percent versus 31 percent), walkways (40
percent versus 28 percent), bike paths (43 percent versus 21 percent)
and highways (33 percent versus 20 percent).
More residents in urban areas than those in suburbs would like
additional access to rail (42 percent versus 35 percent) and bike paths
(39 percent versus 32 percent).
Three in 4 (75 percent) Southern Californians would fork over their
own money to have a better travel experience. “In fact, we found if
local multimodal mobility choices were smoother, traffic congestion
might be reduced, as many said they would switch to public transit,”
Palacios said. More than one-third (34 percent) of this group would be
most willing to spend more to use rail for this reason, while buses come
in second (15 percent).
More than 8 in 10 (83 percent) Southern California residents think
local modes of transportation need to be improved in order to run more
efficiently. Among those residents, better scheduling (62 percent),
easier access and transferability from one mode of transportation to
another (59 percent) and more frequent arrival and departure times (58
percent) top the list of improvements. Nearly half (49 percent) say a
more cohesive single payment system would help. Palacios said Southern
California might be able to leverage lessons being learned in the San
Francisco Bay Area, which is moving toward such a system with Clipper®, a
renewable, stored-value transit card designed to encourage intermodal
travel and incentivize ridership.
Seamless local mobility would result in nearly 9 in 10 (87 percent)
Southern Californians changing their transportation behaviors. More than
half (55 percent) of those who would change their behavior predicted
they would go more places. Nearly two-thirds (64 percent) would reduce
their driving, some would hop onto public transportation (63 percent) or
walk (55 percent) more often. And 26 percent would even encourage more
people to visit.
“We have much to look forward to,” Palacios said. “With the
transportation and transit projects now in the pipeline, Southern
Californians will see a more connected transportation system in their
HNTB is currently working on or has completed a variety of
transportation projects in Southern California designed to improve the
multimodal system, including the Alameda Corridor-East San Gabriel
Trench grade separation; the Interstate 405 Sepulveda Pass Improvements
Project; the Caltrain Jerrold Avenue Bridge Replacement; the Sixth
Street Viaduct Replacement; and the Kraemer Boulevard railroad grade
separation project. It also serves as lead designer to Walsh/Shea
Corridor Constructors for the planned Crenshaw/LAX Line will connect the
existing L.A. Metro Green Line with the Expo Line and integrate Los
Angeles International Airport into the regional rail network.
More than one-third (35 percent) of Southern California residents
believe they will be using local public transportation more often in the
next five years. Southern Californians also think they will be driving
vehicles (40 percent) more in the next five years, while some think they
will walk (30 percent) and ride bikes (22 percent) more to their
There may be a boost in carpooling or ride-sharing as well, as 17
percent think they will do so more often. And 1 in 10 (10 percent)
thinks he or she will take advantage of car sharing more often.