The Usual Anti-Transit Suspects: Still Wrong ... But Not ALL Wrong

GETTING THERE FROM HERE--As outlined in my last CityWatch article, the problems facing Angelenos and other Californians are mainly local/state-induced, and have nothing to do with President Donald J. Trump. 

So we can all hate, love, or feel however we want about Trump, but most of our day-to-day problems are best focused on Downtown Los Angeles and Sacramento with respect to zoning laws, transportation spending, and environmental law-breaking. 

Ditto with those who decry transit spending altogether: 

Joel Kotkin and Wendell Cox can hate all they want on mass transit, as they just did in the Daily News, but it's not that simple. 

In urban scenarios, transit has a role.  In rural/suburban scenarios, transit has less of a role. 

There really isn't any room for more freeways or major roads in Los Angeles, for example, but having transit alternatives (like the Expo Line for the I-10 freeway, or the Gold Lines for the 60 and 210 freeways) with light rail and (if the shoe fits) Metrolink does, in effect, provide a "widening" of these freeways in that these I-10, 60, 210, and other corridors have increased capacity for commuters. 

And sometimes, if the Metro/LADOT/Caltrans folks figure it out, we can actually do better than freeways by creating a LAX-to-Union Station/Downtown direct transit line using the Harbor Subdivision Right of Way.

So Kotkin and Cox aren't really correct ... 

... but they sure as heck make a few great points that we ignore at our collective peril. 

1) There are many of us who fought like hell for the Expo Line, for Measure R, and for Measure M, and for transit lines throughout the county and state who are confounded and infuriated about how they're being used to open the door not for moderate densification, but for blatant, unsustainable overdevelopment. 

That is NOT what we signed up for. 

2) There are many of us who fought like hell for increased options for bus riders, train riders, bicyclists, and pedestrians, and who are confounded and infuriated about how car commuters are being smacked down, beaten up, and left on the side of the road bloodied and defamed. 

That is NOT what we signed up for. 

3) There are many of us who are forced to use our cars, and who want decreased commutes, and more options (including Uber and Lyft, and even buses) that require working and viable roads and freeways, but who are confounded and infuriated about how social engineering is telling us how and where to live, work, and even think. 

That is NOT what we signed up for. 

Hidden agendas are not appropriate or appreciated by anyone with a sense of values, morality, and integrity.  Those of us who fight for transit, but do NOT have hidden agendas, will invariably be offended by hidden agendas that suddenly are being imposed on us... 

...and on our neighbors who we convinced to come aboard with efforts to promote transit opportunities. 

The time has NOT come to abandon transit, or to give too much credence to those who blindly and collectively oppose transit. 

But the time HAS come to include transit as part of a comprehensive transportation approach. 

The time HAS come to not merely be pro-transit, but pro-transportation. 

And the time HAS come to oppose all hidden agendas that hurt our Economy, Environment, and Quality of Life.


(Kenneth S. Alpern, M.D. is a dermatologist who has served in clinics in Los Angeles, Orange, and Riverside Counties, and is a proud father and husband to two cherished children and a wonderful wife. 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 He also co-chairs the grassroots Friends of the Green Line at The views expressed in this article are solely those of Dr. Alpern.)