A vision for the future, from LA

The I-405 is one of Los Angeles biggest and busiest freeways and just a few years ago underwent a US$1 billion widening project. But as the saying goes, what you feed grows and a few days ago that was highlighted in nightmarish fashion as tens of thousands tried to get away for Thanksgiving. The images come from ABC7 Eyewitness News twitter feed. All modes can have issues from time to time but unless we can focus on developing some serious multi-modal options then perhaps this will be a vision of Auckland’s future. And is if that isn’t bad enough, here’s a video of it showing the traffic extending a long …
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Travel diary: Beachfront cycling in LA

I was recently on holiday in California. Here are some thoughts and images from the week I spent in Los Angeles, a car-dependent city that is, like Auckland, trying to become something different. One of the frustrations of travelling in California is how much time I spent in cars. While in Auckland, I get in a car perhaps one day every two weeks – the rest of the time I get around by public transport or under my own power. In California, I drove every day, which was enjoyable at times and frustrating at others. However, I was lucky enough to spend a fantastic afternoon cycling in Los Angeles. This …
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AT’s Get on Board with Jerome Campaign

Auckland Transport recently launched a new campaign featuring Jerome Kaino encouraging people to use PT and HOP. It seems to be primarily an online campaign focused on the videos below however I’ve also seen a few ads on the backs of buses too. Overall I think the campaign is pretty well done and Jerome seems like a good choice to front it. I’m not sure I agree that the journey planner is as great as Jerome suggests. I find it often ignores the most logical or sometimes even the fastest options. For example to get from Takapuna to New Lynn on a Monday afternoon it only suggests catching the horrid 130 bus …
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Postcard from Downtown Los Angeles

We’re going to need to re-inhabit and rehabilitate our cities and our urban neighborhoods whether we like it or not, because the suburbs are bankrupting our culture, economically, ecologically, socially, and spiritually. – James Howard Kunstler On a recent west coast (US) whistle stop tour I took a couple of days to check out Downtown Los Angeles. For half a century downtown LA epitomised the country’s flight to the suburbs abetted by mass motorisation — fleeing businesses and residents, abandoned buildings, and a concentration of social problems. Over the last decade, and in particular the last few years, Downtown LA has emerged as one of the most interesting urban stories in …
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What we can learn from LA

Len Brown has said that this year we’re going to be seeing the council start a conversation about how to raise money to cover the estimated $12-15 billion funding shortfall that has resulted from their wish list of projects that will still most transport metrics get worse. While I feel there is a strong desire amongst Aucklanders to see us getting on with improving transport I do think the council will be hard pressed to sell extra taxes for a programme of works that doesn’t really solve the problems that exist. Over the last few days we’ve run a couple of guest posts on the revival and future of rapid …
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The revival and future of rapid transit in Los Angeles – Part 2

This guest post is the second in a two part series from Darren Davis who is a Principal Transport Planner for Auckland Transport looking at the revival and future of rapid transit in Los Angeles. The first part which looks at the revival is here. Los Angeles is by no means sitting on its laurels. At the height of the Global Financial Crisis in late 2008, 67% of Los Angeles County voters voted to tax themselves more by increasing the county sales tax by 0.5% for the next 40 years. 65% of this is dedicated to bus and rail capital projects and operations; 20% to roading and 15% to local projects (which can …
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The revival and future of rapid transit in Los Angeles – Part 1

This guest post is the first in a two part series from Darren Davis who is a Principal Transport Planner for Auckland Transport looking at the revival and future of rapid transit in Los Angeles. Los Angeles is virtually a metonym for car-based mobility based on an extensive freeway network. Sadly, the early promise of unlimited mobility on uncongested freeways has turned from autopia to dystopia where Los Angeles is routinely in second place in the United States (after Washington DC) in time wasted stuck in traffic and where the picture postcard sunsets are the result of photochemical smog refracting the rays of the sun. However, all is far from lost for Los Angeles and it has …
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LA investment in PT is reducing driving

When we invest in good quality public transport, walking or cycling it is normally not about providing some sort of social service to those who can’t drive – either for age/medical reasons or that they simply can’t afford to. It’s really about giving people a choice in how they get around the city as in cities like Auckland far too often the only viable option is to drive. Over the last decade we’ve already strong uplift in patronage, especially on the rail network and Northern Busway as people have responded to the investment. While that is really good it is often quite hard to tell just what specific impact an investment …
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The difference that street width makes

I stumbled (via Price Tags) across a really fantastic site earlier today which really highlights the difference that street width makes to the feel of a place – taking a number of streets in Los Angeles and manipulating the image to reduce the street width. Let’s take a look at a narrowed Sunset Boulevard: And compare it to the real thing: And now a narrowed version of the intersection of Ocean Ave and Santa Monica Boulevard, in Santa Monica: Compared to the real thing: While I’ve always been a fan of narrow streets, these images really show how narrowing down our roadways can have a hugely beneficial impact on the …
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Learning from Los Angeles

Typically Los Angeles is considered a textbook guide on what “not to do” when it comes to transport and land-use planning. In so many ways it is the utterly stereotypical post World War II city: without a strong core, without a functioning public transport system, with enormous congestion, with terrible air pollution, and so forth. However, as I noted back in March, Los Angeles is changing its ways. In fact, Taras Grescoe – writer of the fantastic book Straphanger – reckons that Los Angeles is the American city most at the cutting edge of improving its public transport system. He penned this recent op-ed in the LA Times, noting: When people …
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