Now, I have been a faithful subscriber to the LA Times for years–years. But this article makes me want to rip my hair out in handfuls:
Car-Loving LA May Actually Be A Transit Paradise
This headline is reporting on the findings from a study just released from Brookings called Transit Access and Zero-Vehicle Households.
Nowhere in this report does it even remotely suggest that Los Angeles is a transit ‘paradise.’ The report does say that transit in Los Angeles does go to neighborhoods where many households do not have cars.
SHHHHOOOOOOCKING! UTTERLY SHOCKING!! OMG!! OMG!! THIS MUST BE WRONG. Wrong, I say! DON’T THEY KNOW THAT OTHER TRANSIT SYSTEMS ARE BETTER BETTER BETTER AND DONT’ THEY KNOW THAT I WANT MORE TRANSIT IN LA AND SHOULDN’T THEY SQUAWK ON ABOUT HOW BAAAAAAAAAAD TRANSIT IS IN LA AND OMG!!
Read the research. The comments on this story on Fboo are driving me nuts as they sermonize on about West Los Angeles rail.
The Brookings report is not worried about transit access for rich people (ie West Los Angeles) here. Mmmmmmokey? And the reason west LA still doesn’t have rail transit is west LA’s own damn fault, and they’ve subsequently managed to tax the rest of the county to get the subway to the sea, so put a sock in already.
Transit is a very complex field. I have a semester long course on transit operations, and we only skim the surface of trying to understand what measures quality in public transit. Is transit access measured by walking distance to a transit stop? What if the transit only serves the stop once an hour? What if you can get to a transit stop, but then the transit doesn’t go where you want to go? How about timed transfers? How much parking has to be there? How much commercial activity should surround a station? How much seating?
As a result of this complexity, studies are *partial*. In real-deal research, you don’t get to walk away with Flavorwire tidbits like “10 Metro Systems that Serve Every Population’s Needs All The Time.” Transit doesn’t really work like that.
Finally, calling this a transit story–and focusing on the transit the way the commenters do–is wrong. This is a transit supply story, but it’s also a housing supply and distribution story. Where the transit goes is only one aspect to access. The other concerns where low-income people live, and where people without cars live (often the same group, but sometimes not). There are plenty of places where I’d bet that housing supply aspect dominates the transit supply aspect.
Even so, the Los Angeles numbers may be influenced by the fact that many low-income households here have cars already. Again, that’s pretty clear from the report.