Imagine sitting in your car for three days. Three solid days. According to a study by Inrix, the worst traffic in the country is SoCal. This doesn’t surprise anyone. Here in the Los Angeles-Long Beach-Santa Ana region we spent 81 hours stuck in our internationally famous gridlock.
While it is true that Los Angeles grew into a metropolis due in part to its network of freeways and beloved car culture, times are quickly changing. Once progressive automobile transportation has given way to air-polluting, anxiety-inducing and sometimes soul-sucking congestion.
Los Angeles County residents deserve an alternative and, when given one, they choose it. Case in point, the new Metro Expo Line. When it opened in May 2016, taking riders from downtown L.A. to Santa Monica, this fast and convenient option was immediately welcomed. On the first day, 12,000 people jumped on board. Train cars became crowded and ridership increased 42 percent on weekdays and 90 percent on Sundays. Metro doesn’t even have enough cars to keep up with the demand.
Surveys show that as other rapid transit lines open, riders are equally eager to take the train. More than 70 percent of Gold Line riders had never riden the Metro before. Another two-thirds of those surveyed said that they were formerly drivers who chose the train instead. “I think this (Gold Line Foothill) will be tremendously successful. People want to use public transportation,” said Metro spokesman Dave Sotero.
Back in 2008, voters passed Measure R, a 30-year, half-cent sales tax that led to improvements and the public transit construction boom in Los Angeles. The job is not complete. To improve the region’s quality of life, promote more mobility and positively impact our economy by being more efficient, further attention to infrastructure is needed.
On the November ballot, Measure M-the Los Angeles County Traffic Improvement Plan will provide money toward finishing mass transit projects that began with Measure R. If Measure M is passed by 66 percent of voters, it will modernize L.A. County’s aging transportation system from Arroyo Verdugo to Westside and provide an alternative to three lost days on the highway.