Public Transportation Service?

This great article from New Geography explains why it is questionable.

An excerpt.

“In our system of government, the public sector is, well, supposed to serve the public. But increasingly the bureaucracies at the state and local level increasingly seek to tell the public how to live, even if the result is to make life worse.

“This became glaringly obvious recently, when the CEO of the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority, Phil Washington, reeling from data showing a steady drop of transit riders, decided that the only solution was to make driving worse.

“It’s too easy to drive in this city,” said Washington. “We want to reach the riders that left and get to the new ones as well. And part of that has to do with actually making driving harder.”

“Now let’s consider what that means. L.A. County is hardly a paradise now for commuters — 84 percent of whom drive to work — while the Orange County and Riverside-San Bernardino areas, where transit dependence is even less marked, are no great shakes, either. All suffer among the longest average commutes of anywhere in the nation.

“Normally one would expect our elected officials to want to make life easier. A transit agency should orient itself not to social engineering, but to looking at innovative ways to contain traffic. Much of this can be fairly inexpensive and flexible, such as adding lanes, building up the capacity of ride-hailing services, or even allowing for private jitneys. But such ideas are not welcomed by those who have decided only their solution — more trains — is an acceptable alternative, and damn the consequences.

“Let’s get real about transit

“When Los Angeles started its massive rail construction program — now at $16 billion and counting — there were brave assumptions that the City of Angels would soon become “the next great transit city.” But it did not. Transit ridership today is lower than in 1990 and has been falling even as the new systems are built.

“The problem is not unique to Los Angeles. Virtually all American cities whose growth took place mainly after 1950 have the same problem, and it’s called the car. It may have negative externalities in terms of the environment (although far less than before), but it does get people to work far more effectively than transit. This is particularly true because only a small speck of L.A. jobs, and far fewer in the OC and Inland areas, actually are located in a downtown, which is the most accessible for transit riders.

“If you want a job in Southern California, it is very useful to have a car. The average worker in the Los Angeles metropolitan area (which includes Orange County) can get to fewer than 1 percent of the jobs by transit in 30 minutes. By car, the average worker can get to 33 times as many jobs, according to University of Minnesota research. In Riverside-San Bernardino, the average worker can get to nearly 100 times as many jobs by car as by transit in 30 minutes.

“People dependent on transit, given the spread-out geography of jobs, are extraordinary limited in their employment choices, or will have to endure extra-long commutes. Today the average car commute in Los Angeles County is 28 minutes; among transit riders it’s 51.

“The clerisy’s power grab

“The kind of power grab that Washington contemplates would be transformational, but it’s not likely to come directly from City Hall or Sacramento. This class, the clerisy, the modern-day equivalent of the medieval church, derives its power not from getting elected (although the elected allow their excesses) but by inhabiting the levers of planning power.

“The clerisy also includes the media and academic establishments, which generally support anything that purports to create fewer greenhouse gases, even if it does not, as we now know has been the experience since 2007. As analyst Randall O’Toole observes, based on figures from the 2017 National Transit Database, L.A.’s bus system, in part because it is so underused, burns more energy per passenger mile than the average SUV and emits more greenhouse gases.

“But these issues are never discussed because the clerisy does not want to debate the results of their action. Instead the cabal creates an intellectual atmosphere where anyone with different views is either attacked, or, increasingly, in the current one-party environment, ignored.

“For the clerisy there is only one primary objective, reducing California’s infinitesimal carbon “footprint” in ways its members consider acceptable. These directives are applied not through legislative means, but by internal bureaucratic decision-making. After all, a mayor or governor who said his goal was to make driving worse would not have much of a future, except for the most addled climatistas.

“Instead these measures are largely imposed by unelected bureaucrats like Washington whose single interest is to force Southland residents to live the way their betters desire. This applies not just to transportation but what kind of houses we can live in, seeking to force people into ever smaller residences powered only by electricity; most people want single family homes and may find natural gas a far cheaper way to power their homes.

“Yet like the famous Soup Nazi in “Seinfeld,” if you want to drive, own a house and live a middle-class lifestyle in L.A., no soup for you! “

Retrieved September 16, 2019 from

About David H Lukenbill

I am a native of Sacramento, as are my wife and daughter. I am a consultant to nonprofit organizations, and have a Bachelor of Science degree in Organizational Behavior and a Master of Public Administration degree, both from the University of San Francisco. We live along the American River with two cats and all the wild critters we can feed. I am the founding president of the American River Parkway Preservation Society and currently serve as the CFO and Senior Policy Director. I also volunteer as the President of The Lampstand Foundation, a nonprofit organization I founded in 2003.
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