Sunday, July 10, 2016

Prof. Ethan Elkind: What Is The “Secret Sauce” To Boost LA Rail Ridership?

In the run-up to this November’s big ballot initiative in Los Angeles County to raise revenue for transit through a higher sales tax, the pro-transit nonprofit Move LA argues that improved connectivity will boost ridership:
The new measure could deliver the necessary votes because it more than quadruples the connectivity of the rail system: Before Measure R riders could transfer from one line to another at 7 stations in the system, but the new measure would build projects that increase the number of transfer points to 32, enabling people to get from one corner of the county to any other corner. This is the secret sauce that will make ridership grow!
It’s a relatively minor quibble, but the real secret sauce to boosting ridership is to build more homes and offices within walking distance of the transit stations.  Certainly more connectivity and faster service helps.  But in the meantime, the region has plenty of transit stations that are operating now that could be leveraged to boost ridership.

And if the measure passes, it would be helpful if transit leaders could offer some guarantee that new spending on transit lines will be conditioned on this supportive land use development.  Otherwise, the region will be replicating a pattern of under-performance that is still a major challenge for ridership in the existing system.


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