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poor Metro

By Eric Richardson
Published: Wednesday, August 04, 2004, at 09:54AM

Metro's having a rough little run of late. First they have an appeals judge order work stopped on the valley busway, and now today's LA Times has an article talking about how South Pasadena residents hate the Gold Line and want to file a lawsuit (South Pasadena residents hate everything, but I'll get to that).

Though it shares its naming convention with Metro's rail, the Orange Line is actually a busway. The 14 mile long route runs west from the North Hollywood Red Line station, and includes only one mile of city streets. The remaining miles are dedicated lanes, built along former railroad right of way. Construction began last year, and the plan was to have the line open sometime in 2005.

But sometimes the legal system comes back to haunt you. A few years ago a group of Valley residents filed a lawsuit against Metro, alleging that the environmental report filed failed to adequately examine the possibility of just adding more Rapid buses instead of building anything dedicated. The lawsuit was thrown out. But they filed an appeal, which at the end of July the appellate judge granted. Now busway construction has to stop while the case takes its course. A Daily News article on the shutdown includes this quote:

Residents said all they wanted is for the MTA to study putting in a network of red Rapid buses as an alternative to the costly busway a study now being done by MTA.

"We truly believe more Rapid buses is a better alternative for transportation," said Valley Glen resident Diana Lipari, chairwoman of Citizens Organized for Smart Transit, the group that filed the lawsuit.

How can you say that without laughing? Now, I think Metro's Rapid bus program is cool, but let's look at what Rapid buses can and cannot do:

  • Plus: Rapid buses make limited stops, cutting down on the stop-and-start that contributes to much of the running time of any sort of transit. The buses have special transmitters that can signal lights to hold green if a Rapid is coming, allowing it slightly less obstructed travel.

  • Minus: They run on city streets. This is Los Angeles. City streets suck. City streets are too crowded all ready, without more buses clogging them up. If you're going nowhere in stop-and-go traffic none of the Rapid improvements are going to help you, at all.

Bottom line: Rapid buses are an improvement over normal buses in a lot of cases (they don't replace normal buses, just overlay their routes). But what they aren't is a transit plan. No person who has a choice is going to give up sitting in traffic in their car to just sit in the same traffic in a bus. And I think that's where people like Diana Lipari just don't get it. For them just adding some Rapid buses is cool, 'cause I'm sure she sees public transit as a necessary evil that exists for the mobility of those people without cars who come and work the Valley's low-income jobs. Something that people might choose because separated right-of-way makes it a better choice? Never.

South Pasadena's at it again, too, according to an article in today's LA Times titled "Residents Plan Gold Line Lawsuit." The people of South Pasadena (surely not all of them, but those that do are vocal) have been complaining for a while now. When the Gold Line first opened they had signs up along the route, demanding that the trains slow to 25mph (or was it 15?) and quiet the bells at crossing gates. Never mind the fact that Metro can only obey Caltrans rules for marking intersections and runs the line slow enough most of the way already, these South Pasadena people are really just getting annoying. From the LA Times article:

Residents who have fought the extension of the Long Beach Freeway through their town see the Gold Line as another front in the war to guard their "Mayberry" way of life. The line threatens to ruin South Pasadena's quiet atmosphere, said David Margrave, a city councilman who owns a plumbing business near the line and who promised while he was campaigning to press the MTA to reduce the noise level.

"We don't want to be L.A.," he said. "We don't want to be Pasadena. We hate the idea of Alhambra."

Dude, not to spoil your illusion or anything, but you're right in the middle of the Los Angeles metro area. You are LA, like it or not. You can't sit in the middle of the road, plug your ears, and pretend it's not there. If you want your peace and quiet, move somewhere rural. Don't keep being the guy chained to the tree. Your little town stopped the 210 from connecting to the 710, or the 110, and left that weird little spur that ends so abruptly. I know you're proud of that, but do you understand that the rest of LA doesn't like you messing up our roads? But ok, I understand that a lot of houses would be displaced by construction, etc. I'd make the utilitarian argument that it's for the greater good, but ok. But the train? It's already there. It's already had to do enough for you. Adapt, or sell your house to someone who likes living right by transit. Those people are out there, you know...


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