Welcome to “The Mobile City,” our weekly roundup of newsworthy urban transportation developments.
If there’s any one thing that distinguishes the raft of heavy- and light-rail transit systems that have popped up in scores of American cities since 1971 from their pre-World War II predecessors, it’s this: They were designed as hybrids for a car-dependent society. All of them, even the Washington Metro, have as a major function “remote vehicle storage” — that is, allowing car-owning suburbanites to drive to a facility where they can leave their cars in a garage and take a train to their jobs in the cities.
Now, almost 50 years after the first of this new wave of rail transit systems opened, the thinking about what function they should perform has shifted: Many urban planners, developers and city officials see them as tools to reshape the suburban landscape in a more walkable, multimodal fashion. Building large parking garages around stations cuts off that possibility, and that has led the agency building a Los Angeles-area light rail extension to propose eliminating the garages it was going to build around its stations.
Meanwhile, the COVID-19 pandemic has made many of those car-bound commuters fearful of taking transit lest they get added to the rising count of the infected. Studies showing that transit riders are no more likely to catch the coronavirus than others are have so far failed to reassure them, and the cars that they are now driving into the city instead are slowing things down for the buses still rolling down their streets. This has led one city, San Francisco, to take a page from New York’s playbook and at least temporarily turn some of its street space over to buses (and taxis and bikes) exclusively.
Something else the COVID coronavirus has done is upend the way Americans vote. Social distancing requirements and the rise of voting by mail have led many jurisdictions to dramatically shrink the number of polling stations they will operate on Election Day. But this in turn will make it harder for the many voters who will cast votes in person to do so. One of those jurisdictions, however, is fortunate to have a suitably large facility right next to a rapid transit station, and the agency that runs the rapid transit has just finished cleaning the station and will reopen it in time for coming elections.
Foothill Light Metro Extension To Cut Station Parking by Eliminating Garages
The Foothill extension of the LA Metro’s L Line, originally known as the Gold Line, will bring the Greater Los Angeles rail transit system to San Bernardino County’s doorstep once an extension now in the planning phase is completed sometime around 2025. The Inland Valley Daily Bulletin reports that the plans for the line have changed significantly, however.
The Foothill Gold Line Construction Authority announced June 24 that it now plans to eliminate…