TRANSIT WATCH--Blame George W. Bush, Donald J. Trump, and Vladimir V. Putin all you want, the financial problems of the City and County of LA, as well as those of the state of California, are home-grown. One need look NO further than Downtown LA and Sacramento to figure out the TRUE sources of economic disparity, the flight of the middle class, and the ever-growing pension and budgetary crises that you can't keep blaming on "those guys".
Because "those guys" are the ones running this city, county and state into the ground.
So when Denny Zane (a good, honorable and likable man) asks how next to address our rail and bus line ridership, and future plans with the Measure R and M funds that LA County voters bravely said "yes" to, it's to be remembered that not that long ago these same voters said "no" to new funds for subway construction when the Metro Board forgot who they were working for.
I want to again emphasize that Mr. Zane is a good man, and part of the answer, so when his Move LA organization asks "what next?", here are a few good ideas:
1) Dance with the one who brought you here--the voters. There are lobbyists and all sorts of opportunists who want that glob of money the voters allowed and trusted Metro with--so long as its transparent, it should be up to the voters to make the decision on how we spend our money. OUR money.
2) Clean buses are great ... but the most important thing voters and commuters want is the knowledge there are ENOUGH buses. If it takes an extra hour to get to work via a bus, those with the money and self-respect to get access to a car will do just that.
3) As for the rail lines, keep up the great work, but if the Eastside Metro Rail lines don't link well with Metrolink, ridership of both transit services will suffer (it's the same idea as making sure our freeways link to our surface streets ... duh!).
4) Why are bus stops so lousy with respect to shelter and protection from the sun and elements? Make bus riding an experience with dignity and convenience.
5) Uber and Lyft are "a thing" now. The private sector can and should have delightful, easy access for public/private partnerships to get people to their final destinations once they get off the train or bus. Easy-peasy ... and affordable.
6) Watch out for the development creeps--they own Planning, and they talk a lot but don't do squat about real affordable housing. Don't worry--they'll make money. Find the honorable and honest developers, and push the liars and cheaters away with both hands, lest they drag down the concept of affordable housing altogether--and also, we CAN build affordable and middle-class housing south of the I-10, can we not.
7) Anticipate "what's next". Like knowing there is NO direct LAX to Union Station rail connection, and knowing that people will scream about it from the Eastside to Downtown LA to South LA to the South Bay if you don't use that publicly-owned Harbor Subdivision Rail Right of Way correctly. A bikeway for a rail right of way that was once considered by the California High Speed Rail Authority? Do a Major Investment Study updated for the 2024-2030 timeframe, and make whatever financial preparations NOW.
It's not that hard to take care of the taxpayers' money: just treat it as if it were your own ... but remember it's NOT your own. That money is an investment ... OUR investment.
(Kenneth S. Alpern, M.D. is a dermatologist who has served in clinics in Los Angeles, Orange, and Riverside Counties. He is also a Westside Village Zone Director and Board member of the Mar Vista Community Council (MVCC), previously co-chaired its Planning and Outreach Committees, and currently is Co-Chair of its MVCC Transportation/Infrastructure Committee. He was co-chair of the CD11 Transportation Advisory Committee and chaired the nonprofit Transit Coalition, and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. He also co-chairs the grassroots Friends of the Green Line at www.fogl.us. The views expressed in this article are solely those of Dr. Alpern.)