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.
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.
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.