Los Angeles Is Now Offering Car Rides to Metro Stations

By Aarian Marshall : wired – excerpt

Public transit agencies are not known for their flashy, up-to-date technology. In many cities, you’re lucky if your diesel bus shows up on time. But this week, the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority is trying something new.

Starting today, riders who live near three Metro stations will be able to download an app, tap a few times, and have a car show up at their door—or at least within a few blocks—and take them to that station. The service, provided by ride-hail company Via, will cost riders with the system’s TAP cards $1.75, though it will be free for those who already use Metro’s low-income subsidy programs. Riders will share their car trips with between two and five others, but the agency says they shouldn’t have to wait longer than 10 minutes for a pick-up.

If LA has its way, the one-year experiment with on-demand service will solve the devious first-mile, last-mile problem, connecting those who live just a touch too far away from stations to get there. The idea is to make it easier for a whole new group of people to use mass transit. “We’ve created an additional layer of public transportation,” says Chris Snyder, Via’s head of global expansion. “It’s complementary.”… (more)

This sounds like a jitney service similar to the one San Francisco just nixed. This also looks like a last gasp effort to an “anything but” solution that is picking winners among the corporate choices, but, I suppose any service can offer a cheap alternative, including neighbors with their own cars. Hope it works for the public who needs it.

After taking on taxis, ride-share services now challenging public transit in U.S.

By Clyde Hughes : upi – excerpt

Jan. 8 (UPI) — While taxi companies have long complained about ride-share services like Uber and Lyft cutting into their business, ride-hailing may be eating away at a new victim — public transit.

In some of the largest cities in the United States and around the world, public ridership is falling in areas where ride-sharing services are on the rise. In cities like New York City, which just landed a future location for Amazon new East Coast headquarters, there’s been a noticeable drop in subway and bus riders — while ride-sharing picked up nearly 15 percent in one year…

“The actual amounts of riders added to for-hire vehicle-taxi market is strikingly similar to the same number of riders we see [declining] in subways and buses,” Mulligan told the NYC Transit board recently. “This is the best analysis and evidence that we have to date, of not just a correlation between for-hire-vehicle growth and subway ridership decline, but causation.”…. (more)

RELATED:

Uber races Lyft in filing for 2019 stock market debut

Dec. 8 (UPI) — Uber filed paperwork this week for an initial public offering setting up a race with competitor Lyft to be the first to go public, reports indicate.

The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times both reported Friday, citing unnamed sources, that the ride-hailing company confidentially filed the paperwork this week, signaling that it could enter the market in the first quarter of 2019… (more)

BART Is Planning a System-Wide Surveillance Network

By Darwin BondGraham : eastbayexpress – excerpt

The technology will use ‘video analytics’ to pinpoint crime and alert cops.

Following several high-profile crimes in recent weeks, including the horrific killing of Nia Wilson, the Bay Area Rapid Transit district is under intense pressure to ensure passenger safety.

In response, BART officials have revealed preexisting plans to build out a massive surveillance system that would closely monitor all of the district’s stations, trains, and other property…

BART records show that a test project of the PSIM is already “in process” at the Lake Merritt Station. Lake Merritt was chosen due to its proximity to BART’s existing data center and police station.

The test project at Lake Merritt doesn’t require approval by the BART board, but an expansion of the surveillance system throughout the rest of BART’s stations would require board hearings and a vote, according to BART records…

BART has long sought to use technologies to secure its trains and stations, but this hasn’t necessarily made the system safer, and many worry about the loss of privacy and civil liberties, or fear surveillance tools could be used in harmful ways…

In 2014, BART started urging passengers to download and use a security reporting app, but many passengers used the cell phone app to report Black people and homeless people.

Two years ago, BART quietly installed automated license plate reader cameras at its stations, and according to records obtained by the researcher Mike Katz-Lacabe, the cameras have been sending license plate data to the Northern California Regional Intelligence Center since January 2017. Federal immigration agents have access to NCRIC data… (more)

If you have a problem with any of this, let the BART Board know. Some of the Board members are up for re-election in November. You may also want to comment at the the source.

Fast-growing Facebook wants to fix Dumbarton rail bridge

By Wendy Lee : sfchronicle – excerpt

Facebook has entered into negotiations with the San Mateo County Transit District to improve the Dumbarton corridor, a critical connection point between the company’s bayfront headquarters in Menlo Park and cities on the east edge of the bay such as Fremont and Newark.

The project could include renovating a defunct rail bridge over the bay, built in 1910, that parallels the existing, congested bridge for cars and trucks.

The negotiating agreement, approved Wednesday by the transit district’s board, will allow Facebook and a public infrastructure investor, Plenary Group USA, to begin working on a plan to improve the corridor… (more)

Transit crisis in San Francisco

Op-ed by By Gerald Cauthen : sfexaminer – excerpt

Joshua Sabatini provides a nice summary of what The City’s transportation planners want to do to reduce traffic congestion in San Francisco. The problem with their plans is that they won’t work. What is being proposed is akin to trying to fly an airliner using just the ailerons. What’s currently in vogue in San Francisco illustrates what’s wrong with City Hall’s response to its growing transportation crisis.

Most transportation planning are left to people who are well-intentioned but inexperienced. As a result, the proposed solutions tend to be half-baked and over-simplified:

“San Franciscans drive too much; we must walk more.”

“The restraints on parking will ease traffic.”

“More people should ride Muni.”

“We need more bicycle lanes.”

All of these warrant discussion and consideration, but none come even close to fully addressing the real problem. If people are to leave their cars at home, there will have to be non-automotive travel alternatives that work. Here are some considerations that tend to get shoved under the rug:

• Good decisions are not made by the seat-of-the-pants. One has to ask: What works; what doesn’t? What has been shown to work elsewhere? What is cost-effective? What are the alternatives? These essential elements of good planning tend to get lost in a seemingly endless series of politically inspired “bright ideas.”… (more)