Brookings Institute Study Further Highlights Need For Metro Express Routes

Fisheye view of the Los Angeles Metro system

The Brookings Institute just unveiled an exhaustive report on the state of public transit in America. Los Angeles, as you'd expect of the second biggest city in America, is featured rather prominently.

Story Continues Below
Support KCET

So here's the nitty gritty.

The good news is that 96 percent of working Angelenos have immediate access to public transit. That's second best in the nation, trailing only Honolulu. Metro also ranks very high in service frequency, with a service gap of only 6.2 minutes for your typical resident. The study further praises Los Angeles as "above-average" for its ability to connect residents between their homes and jobs.

The bad news? Only 25.6 percent of workers can get to their jobs in 90 minutes using transit. That ranks 69th in the nation. In other words, it's possible for commuters to get to work using Metro, but wildly inconvenient and impractical.

This study fully illustrates what I argued last week on this blog: Metro needs to start experimenting with express routes. And they need to start now.

Metro operates the second most comprehensive public transit network in America, but it doesn't run a single legitimate express route. With a proper study of rush hour commuter trends, routes like the Orange Line can be adjusted to skip over little-used stops--saving the majority of riders precious minutes, and hopefully enticing new riders off the crowded freeways.

Furthermore, thanks to Measure R, L.A. is in the middle of major infrastructure upgrades. We're building what could one day be the most widespread web of committed public transit routes in America. If express routes aren't accounted for during the construction of this network, what are the odds the system will ever be properly retrofitted?

Access to public transit isn't good enough. We need a system that can compete with cars in getting people to work in a timely fashion. Our Measure R dollars can't just be used to expand our service area. We need efficient coverage too.

H/T LA Biz Observed

The L.A. Vitamin Report is a column about quality of life issues by Matthew Fleisher. It is brought to KCET's SoCal Focus blog in partnership with Spot.Us, which receives support from the Cailfornia Endowment.

The photo used on this post is by Flickr user hustle roses. It was used under a Creative Commons License.

About the Author

I'm a veteran LA-based journalist and editor who has been a staff writer with the LA Weekly and senior editor of the LA City Beat. I'm currently a contributing editor to the Los Angeles Times Magazine, editor for Fishbowl LA, and ...


Work To Do


California's Official Song & Other Sound Recordings Found in Archives Around SoCal

LEAVE A COMMENT Leave Comment  


I think you're mis-reading this one section, where you say: "Only 25.6 percent of workers can get to their jobs in 90 minutes using transit."

That's not quite right. It's that the average Angeleno can reach 25.6% of the region's jobs by a 90 minute transit ride.

They're talking about all jobs in the region, not any given Angeleno's own job.

Here's how The Source describes the same data:

"To quote the study, “The typical metropolitan resident can reach about 30 percent of jobs in their metropolitan area via transit in 90 minutes.” Which, perhaps, helps explain why about 86 percent of Americans choose to drive to work and 75 percent drive alone, according to the Census Bureau.

As the above chart shows, the Los Angeles metro area is slightly below that at 26 percent. Or, to put it another way, about one in four L.A. metro area jobs are reachable via transit within 90 minutes. In case you’re curious, that number is 37 percent in the New York metro area (check out other areas on this interactive feature)."