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Matute on the Consequences of Lower, Slower Bus Ridership

Juan Matute, deputy director of the Institute of Transportation Studies at UCLA Luskin, wrote a Los Angeles Times op-ed about the severe consequences of declining bus ridership. As the average speed of buses on the region’s congested roads has declined to a sluggish 12 mph, average occupancy has sunk to 12 passengers. “There are few means of transportation more energy-efficient than a packed bus — and few more wasteful than an empty one,” Matute wrote. In addition to clogging traffic and squandering taxpayer dollars, near-empty buses are inefficient greenhouse gas emitters that could prevent Los Angeles from doing its part to fight climate change, he wrote. Citing ITS research, Matute argued for “tactical” bus-only lanes that can be installed and reversed daily to reduce peak congestion. “Lower, slower ridership is costing us hundreds of millions of dollars that could be used to improve the system instead of sustaining its inefficiencies,” Matute said.


 

image of traffic in Southern California

Transit Ridership Still in Decline, Manville Reports

Associate Professor of Urban Planning Michael Manville spoke to Transit California about a 2018 report he co-authored with other Institute of Transportation Studies (ITS) scholars that found public transportation ridership in Southern California has declined. Manville confirmed this trend has continued with one difference. “What is different from then to now is that San Francisco has now joined the ranks of ridership in decline, which was not the case when we originally did the study,” Manville said. Despite political support for Measure M, which created a tax in Los Angeles to pay for transit improvements, ridership remains low. The measure appealed to voters — but not enough to change their travel behavior, Manville said. “We can’t depend or model transit ridership on low-income riders. That model falls apart today,” he said. “Instead, transit has to be built in a way that we expect people to ride it.” Urban Planning Professors Brian Taylor and Evelyn Blumenberg coauthored the 2018 report.


 

Shoup Pens L.A. Times Op-Ed on Higher Density Housing

Donald Shoup, distinguished research professor of urban planning, authored an opinion piece in the Los Angeles Times pondering whether L.A. should allow higher-density housing in single-family neighborhoods near rail transit stations.  “Higher density will create more housing and increase transit ridership, but many homeowners view higher density as a bad neighbor,” writes Shoup, explaining that a minor zoning change — graduated density zoning — could bring major public benefits. Graduated density zoning allows for higher density, subject to limits, but also protects homeowners from unwanted development.