Wednesday, March 18, 2009

LA Transportation: Part 4 - Transit

In the last posts, we learned that Los Angeles is not a poster child for sprawl, that the air has gotten a lot cleaner, and that the freeway network is surprisingly small given the region’s enormous population. What about the charge that Los Angeles’s mass-transit system is underdeveloped and inadequate?

By U.S. standards, that’s false.

Los Angeles has a reputation as a city where people get around in limos, not buses.

But compared with the majority of U.S. cities, Los Angeles is not a transit wasteland. The region is second in the nation in transit patronage, behind only New York. Even on a market share basis (passenger transit miles traveled as a share of all miles traveled), Los Angeles’s ridership rate is relatively high: 11th among the 50 largest urban areas.

Ironically, Los Angeles once had one of the most extensive rail transit systems in the world. The oft-repeated story is that it was destroyed by a conspiracy led by the car companies. (For a dramatized version, see Who Framed Roger Rabbit. I’ll take this up some other time.) In any event, the last rail service in Los Angeles was gone by the 1960’s.

Read the rest of the NYT article here...