Gender biases in transit planning

Despite efforts to close the gender gap in many aspects of life, there are still some industries and activities where the gap hasn’t even been identified properly. One such example is mobility and public transportation. The idea that men and women have different travel behaviors is not new, but has not been given the attention it deserves. In a recent study, LA Metro staff surveyed 2,600 county residents, oversampling women, to understand trends in gender-based travel patterns. The staff found that the metro system does not serve men and women equally and the latter are always disproportionately burdened by costs and safety risks.

Unintended consequences: learning from managing traffic volumes on express toll lanes

Despite the prevalence of anti-tolling sentiment reported in the press, cities like Atlanta and Los Angeles that operate variably priced toll lanes have seen early skepticism give way to heavy use of these lanes by commuters. These successes and the approaches taken by the two agencies to manage increasing demand suggest a need to manage these facilities in the context of the entire transportation system. The two approaches taken by Atlanta and Los Angeles could be used by other agencies struggling with similar issues.

Contrarian research: Transit relieves congestion, but park-and-rides do not

Research using the results of a 2003 Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority strike shows that transit does indeed relieve congestion, but only along corridors that parallel heavily used lines. At the same time, research in the Netherlands indicates that park-and-ride lots in cities may actually increase vehicle miles traveled in a metro area.

Carmaggedon leads to significantly better air quality

As Los Angeles-area residents were preparing for “Carmageddon II” – the second scheduled closing in two years of 10 miles of Interstate 405, the busiest highway in the country, to complete bridge work – research findings were released showing almost instantaneous improvements in air quality during the original Camageddon in July 15-17, 2011. Unfortunately, the effect was reversed soon after the freeway re-opened.

Model Design Manual for Living Streets (Los Angeles County, 2011)

A new design manual was issued by Los Angeles County for use by all municipalities to improve the livability of streets. The manual encourages transportation engineers to apply flexible standards to accommodate all modes of travel, encourage economic development, and revitalize neighborhoods.

Train on wheels – the growing popularity of BRT in Los Angeles

The east-west Orange line is just seven years old, but skyrocketing ridership on the original North Hollywood to Warner Center section, and proven ability to relieve freeway congestion, has already lead to a four-mile extension to Chatsworth. The success signals to transit planners in Los Angeles and across the country that more attention should be paid to adding Bus Rapid Transit to our growing transit systems. In the words of one commuter, “It’s much easier to ride this than it is to drive; it’s like a train on wheels.” The recently expanded Orange Line illustrates that a bus line can be economical and popular.

Southern California Association of Governments adopts strong sustainability plan

On April 3, the Southern California Association of Governments unanimously adopted a 25 year transportation plan that focuses on transit, road maintenance, walking, biking, sustainability, land use, and reduction of greenhouse gases. Local officials and citizen’s groups alike hailed it as a significant change in strategy for a region notorious for clogged freeways and the worst air quality in the nation.

BRT workshop highlights best practices and marketing

Although there is no official definition of BRT, but some key elements have emerged as cities explore this transit option. It can speed commutes, attract high ridership, and promote economic development. However, proper marketing of BRT, both during the planning and after the line is operational, is key to success.