To make transit work, does LA need to make driving harder?

To make transit work, does LA need to make driving harder?

A recent UCLA report suggests ballot initiatives may not be enough

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Los Angeles voters have made it clear they’re willing to tax themselves for more transit options.

But, so far, most residents aren’t displaying much interest in riding: Metro ridership declined for the fifth straight year in 2018, and census data show nearly 75 percent of Los Angeles County commuters still drive to and from work by themselves. Less than 7 percent use public transit.

A new UCLA study suggests there may be a good reason for that: Transit systems thrive in places where it’s difficult or expensive to drive. In 2016, when LA County voters approved Measure M, a sales tax measure funding transportation infrastructure, backers of the initiative billed it as a solution to LA’s traffic congestion.

That means that many voters may be less interested in an alternative to driving and more interested in faster trips on the freeway—which could present problems for LA officials struggling to address rising tailpipe emissions.

“It doesn’t get us anywhere to pretend that we can change LA and make it more sustainable and accessible without having some sort of reckoning with the extent to which we’ve organized the landscape around the car,” says UCLA urban planning professor Michael Manville, who authored the report released last month.



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