James E. Moore II is an associate professor of civil engineering and urban planning at USC. Robert Poole is president of the Reason Foundation in Los Angeles
Recent news accounts concerning the Metropolitan Transportation Authority's debt have focused on how the shortfall will affect the agency's future. Whether or not its San Fernando Valley operations are spun off to a separate or quasi-separate agency, the MTA will face an enormous debt burden for decades.
"We make no resolutions for the New Year. The habit of making plans, of criticizing, sanctioning and molding our lives, is too much of a daily event for most of us."
The single most important decision is to make permanent the MTA board's current moratorium on adding rail lines. It is rail that has created the mountain of debt. Rail is far too costly for the limited number of riders it can handle. The same public subsidy that supports 100 bus trips will support only 40 heavy-rail trips, 10 light-rail trips or six commuter-rail trips, according to the MTA's own figures.
The articulated buses (pictured above, one tandem behind) are far more
efficient and more people can ride comfortable and perhaps leave the driving
in the capable hands of the bus drivers. Shortie buses are absolete, in
Honolulu should not be more than 20% of the fleet.
This is not a good deal for L.A.'s transit-dependents or its taxpayers. If rail lines are not cost-effective, what alternative do we have to give transit users fast, reliable transportation? And throughout the country the prime purpose is to get the car users into public transportation.
Research suggests that busways can deliver far more service for the dollars spent. For example, a simple count of the buses using the El Monte Busway on the San Bernardino Freeway reveals that this guideway provides more than three times the passenger miles per hour as the Long Beach-Los Angeles Blue Line (rail) at more than twice the Blue Line's average speed (52 mph versus 21 mph).
The Chinese have been very successful with the new Bi-Articulated bus
(two tandems) with passenger efficiency five times greater than rail, and at
one tenth the cost. And right in front of these buses are 150 cars missing,
(not there.) The drivers are "sitting" comfortable in the bus.
Pub's Side Note: The Chinese are now working on the Tri-Articulated (three tandems) so we have no figures yet on the Tri's. For sure adding a few to the Corridor buses will vacate the freeway to nothing. Where is everybody? The traffic in town will be much better. And we can get more people joining us in our dancing.