Thursday, July 21, 2011

Slow Public Transit in Los Angeles: A Case Study

Last night, I took a 5pm #1 Big Blue Bus from the UCLA Hilgard Ave stop to Santa Monica intending to get off at Ocean Ave (just at the beach).    Google Maps told me this would be a 7 mile drive. My trip took 62 minutes.  How did we average a speed less than 7 MPH?    The cost of the trip was 75 cents but an hour of my time (even during this ongoing recession) is worth a little bit more than that.  The traffic actually wasn't that bad but we stopped at every stop and the stops appeared to be one block apart. It was Murphy's Law that every time we stopped to drop off people or pick up people that a green light went red.

My best guess is that the travel time would have been 30 minutes had we stopped at every 2nd bus stop.  Why are there so many bus stops on the route?  My guess is that this is a convenience benefit conveyed to senior citizens and some of unusual people who like to ride this bus.  

Public health officials worry that we are getting fat and not exercising enough.  If the bus made fewer stops, then it would travel at higher speeds and we would be forced to exercise more. Isn't that a win-win?

I wanted to take a bus back from the Beach to Westwood but I got tired of waiting around at the bus stop and I jumped in a $20 cab and was back at UCLA in 15 minutes at the end of the night.  So, I traded off $19 tax deductible dollars (I had attended  a business dinner)  for roughly 30 minutes of reduced time.  A good tradeoff?

1 comment :

Canales said...

But do you think the public health people talk to the mass transit guys? Obviously not. In addition to that setting a bus line in a sprawl region inevitably contends between maximizing ridership by locating as many stops as possible and making it a competitive alternative to the automobile. If it costs 75 cents that means they are targeting people whose value of time is low, and therefore only care about maximizing that segment of the population with as many stops as possible.