Category Archives: Automotive

Tarrytown Chevrolet Plant and NY Central Croton-Harmon

GM Tarrytown Plant

Here’s the story when it closed in the 90’s

Fast facts;

The plant was first built in 1903 – they built MAXWELL automobiles.

The plant was purchased by GM in 1916 and assigned to it’s CHEVROLET Division.

Tarrytown was linked to New York City by the New York Central & Hudson River Railroad in 1849.

In the past 50 years, the plant manufactured Chevy Impalas in the 50’s & 60’s. 1971 – 1977, lots of VEGAS rolled off the assembly line there which have all rusted into dust with their little aluminum engine blocks, the ultimate death of that car. Yes, the Lumina was the final vehicle manufactured in Tarrytown. Here’s a shot of the plant being torn down with a view of the railroad in 1999;

Something hard to believe now in looking at the wasteland along Metro North in Tarrytown is that in 1980, this plant was the MOST EFFICIENT plant that GM owned with it’s best worker/management relations on record. At that time, the plant was riding high with the production of the popular front-wheel drive Chevy CITATION.

It’s a sad story that the plant died, but for a change, this can’t be blamed on nor linked to it’s rail service in any way. The State wouldn’t give them a tax break to keep production in Tarrytown, Tarrytown was too expensive for the workers to live nearby (they commuted two hours one way, ROUTINELY) and poor management in predicting consumer trends killed it. Japanese cars helped kill it too. Let’s be honest. Chevrolet cars didn’t hold up well, and fell sooner to rust than the competitors.

See more on Croton-Harmon railroad facility
https://penneyandkc.wordpress.com/ny-central-shops-at-harmon/

Car Culture

A real story for this era is how General Motors, Ford and Chrysler reshaped American ground transportation to serve their corporate wants instead of social needs.

As a result of their monopolistic structure, the Big Three automakers acted in a way detrimental to public interest. GM had control of auto, truck, bus and locomotive production. We are seeing a collapse of a society based on the automobile. We have consumed too much oil, polluted the atmosphere, and turned our cities into highways and parking lots. We see a government bias in favor of highways, failure to produce transport vehicles consistent with energy/environmental restraints, and a consumer dependence on the auto.

GM had the power and economic incentive to suppress rail and bus transportation: one bus can eliminate 35 automobiles; one rail transit vehicle can supplant 50 passenger cars; one train can displace 1000 cars or a fleet of 150 cargo-laden trucks.

GM had a role in the destruction of more than 100 electric surface rail systems in 45 cities including New York, Philadelphia, Baltimore, St. Louis, Oakland, Salt Lake City and Los Angeles. In southern California, GM and other highway interests acquired local transit companies and replaced them with busses. The noisy, foul-smelling busses turned people away from mass transit and therefore sold millions of automobiles.

General Motors received a criminal conviction for its part in monopolizing street transportation. In spite of this, GM continued to acquire and dieselize electric transit properties into 1955. 40,000 streetcars were in service in 1936 when National City Lines was organized by GM. By 1955, only 5,000 remained. While substituting buses for electric street railways helped GM stockholders, it deprived the riding public of a pollution free and energy efficient mode of transportation.

Substitution of buses for streetcar lines contributed indirectly to the abandonment of electric railway freight service. Merchants used to rely on this service to deliver goods and interchange with railroads. For instance, Pacific Electric was once the third largest freight railroad in California. It just proved uneconomical to maintain city track for freight-only. General Motors even benefited from this demise. They also sold trucks! They even used to have an interest in Associated Transport and Consolidated Freightways.

GM used its leverage as the largest freight shipper to coerce railroads to scrap their equipment, including pollution-free electrics, in favor of less durable, less efficient GM diesels. New Haven Railroad showed a profit during 50 years of electrification but started heavy losses after it dieselized its operations.

General Motors diversification into bus transportation: (1) shifted passengers from rail to bus and eventually into automobiles; and (2) shifted freight from rail to truck. An additional factor was GM’s integration into locomotive production. In 1930, they acquired Winton Engine and Electro-Motive. Unfortunately, GM could make 25 to 30 times more gross revenue selling cars and trucks than it could diesel locomotives.

In 1956 the government sued General Motors for monopolization of the bus industry and requested divestiture of its bus production facilities. The case was a failure for the government because GM had combined bus and truck production within the same facilities. A few years later the Justice Department started and then abandoned an antitrust case against GM Locomotive.

Many of the anti-competitive forces of the automobile industry could be diffused by a remedy suggested several years ago by Bradford C. Snell of the International Conference on Appropriate Transportation. First, deconcentration of the motor vehicle industry would reduce the automakers ability to pass on the cost of their anti-rail lobbying to consumers. Second, reorganization of GM’s bus and rail divisions into independent corporations would enable them to operate free from the conflict of interest they currently have. Finally, the facilitation of entry by a number of new bus and rail enterprises would provide competitive capability to build a modern passenger and freight transport system.

It has been the policy of Congress in the past to maintain competition by prohibiting common control of competing modes of transport. The Air Mail Act of 1934 forced GM to sell its interests in several airlines. GM also had interests in several aircraft manufacturers. At that time, GM chairman Sloan implied to Congress that his company had entered the aviation industry to protect its interests in the promotion of automobiles.

At one time there were more than 150 competing manufacturers of bus and rail vehicles. The technological development of these vehicles stopped in the 1930’s.

In Europe and Japan, where there is a limited amount of common auto/rail/bus ownership, there are much more balanced transportation systems.

GM owned Hertz from 1925 to 1953. Because it was perceived to lessen sales of cars, GM limited its growth. Its success after disposition by GM shows what could happen to bus and rail operations.

General Motors got into bus production in 1925 by acquiring Yellow Coach. In 1926 they assisted in the formation of the Greyhound Corporation. 1932 saw GM going into the business of converting interurban electric railways as well as electric streetcar systems to bus operations. Due to the high cost of operation and slow speed on congested streets, buses ultimately contributed to the collapse of hundreds of transit systems.

Several railroads converted substantial portions of their commuter rail service with buses: Pennsylvania Greyhound Lines (Pennsylvania RR); Central Greyhound Lines (New York Central); Pacific Greyhound Lines (Southern Pacific); New England Greyhound Lines (New York, New Haven & Hartford); Northland Greyhound Lines (Great Northern); and Southwestern Greyhound Lines (St. Louis Southwestern Railroad). The railroads were eventually forced out of ownership by the government. By 1950, Greyhound carried half as many intercity passengers as the railroads. Until 1948, General Motors was the largest stockholder in Greyhound.

General Motors used various devices to convert street car lines to bus. At first, United Cities Motor Transit was directly owned by GM and would buy electric street car companies, convert them to GM motorbus operation, and then resell them. After being censured by the American Transit Association, GM went “undercover” with other organizations, primarily National City Lines, Inc. Other participants in National City Lines were Greyhound, Standard Oil of California and Firestone Tire. By reselling properties after conversion, they were assured that capital was continually reinvested in the motorization of additional systems. The biggest GM “triumph” was California’s Pacific Electric. Within a 75-mile radius of Los Angeles, it carried 80 million people annually. In 1949, GM, Greyhound, Standard Oil and Firestone were found guilty of criminally conspiring to monopolize the sale of buses. General Motors was fined $5,000! The GM treasurer who masterminded the destruction of Pacific Electric was fined $1!

Additional Reading on this subject: great reference is Revisiting the Great American Streetcar Scandal, by Al Mankoff– Vol. 4, Summer 1999

and The Great American Streetcar Myth

Please read “The Streetcar Conspiracy” by Bradford Snell and “The Conspiracy Revisted Rebutted” by Louis Guilbault. I do not have links and will not tell you about Amazon or Borders and Noble because those people would not even give me the time of day.

See more about similar articles

https://penneyandkc.wordpress.com/Connecticut%20To%20Philadelphia/

Real Welfare Cadillacs Have 18 Wheels

Truck freight movement gets a subsidy of between $57 and $128 billion annually in the form of uncompensated social costs, over and above what trucks pay in taxes, according to the Congressional Budget Office.

If trucking companies paid the full costs associated with moving truck freight, we’d have less road damage and congestion, fewer crashes, and more funding to pay for the transportation system.

What with all the speculation about a possible trillion dollar spending package for infrastructure, we’ve been hearing a lot about about crumbling bridges, structurally deficient roads, and the need for more highway capacity.

It’s clear that our transportation finance system is broken. To make up the deficit, politicians frequently call for increased user fees – through increased taxes on gasoline, vehicle miles traveled, or even bikes. All the while, one of the biggest users of the transportation network – the trucking industry – has been rolling down the highway fueled by billions in federal subsidies.

A 2015 report from the Congressional Budget Office estimates that truck freight causes more than $58 to $129 billion annually in damages and social costs in the form of wear and tear on the roads, crashes, congestion and pollution – an amount well above and beyond what trucking companies currently pay in taxes.

CBO doesn’t report that headline number, instead computing that the external social costs of truck freight on a “cents per ton mile basis” range between 2.62 and 5.86 cents per ton mile. For the average heavy truck, they estimate that the cost works out to about 21 to 46 cents per mile travelled.

Unfortunately, trucking companies don’t pay these costs. They are passed along to the rest of us in the form of damaged roads, crash costs, increased congestion and air pollution. Because they don’t pay the costs of these negative externalities, the firms that send goods by truck don’t have to consider them when deciding how and where to ship goods. This translates into a huge subsidy for the trucking industry of of between 21 and 46 cents per mile.

For comparison, CBO looked at the social costs associated with moving freight by rail. Railroads have much lower social costs, for two reasons: first, rail transport is much more energy efficient and less polluting per ton mile of travel; second, because railroads are built and maintained by their private owners, most of the cost of wear and tear is borne by private users, not the public. Railroad freight does produce social costs associated with pollution and crashes, but the social costs of moving freight by rail are about one-seventh that for truck movements: about 0.5 to 0.8 cents per ton mile, compared to 2.52 to 5.86 per ton mile for trucks.

There’s a clear lesson here: It may seem like we have a shortage of infrastructure, or lack the funding to pay for the transportation system, but the fact that truck freight is so heavily subsidized means that there’s a lot more demand (and congestion) on the the roads that there would be if trucks actually paid their way. On top of that, there’d be a lot more money to cover the cost of the system we already have.

So the next time someone laments the sad state of the road system, or wonders why we can’t afford more investment, you might want to point out some 18-wheelers who are now getting a one heck of a free ride, at everyone’s expense.

View the full report: “Pricing Freight Transport to Account for External Costs: Working Paper 2015-03“

Uber Can’t Replace Transit — Here Are 3 Reasons Why

Transit projects from Detroit to Nashville are running up against a new argument from opponents. The latest line from anti-transit types is that ride-hailing apps like Uber and Lyft are going to make fixed-route bus or rail service obsolete.

It doesn’t hold up if you’ve given some thought to the huge amount of space cars consume compared to buses or trains. But many people don’t spend their days thinking about the spatial efficiency of transit.

1. Uber and Lyft hog too much space

Let’s say, hypothetically, that a city gives up on transit service because officials think Uber and Lyft can take care of things from now on. Imagine what happens next: Everyone who rides the LA Metro Bus system suddenly crowds onto the 405 in an Uber, every passenger on New York’s L train has to hail a ride over the Williamsburg Bridge. The result would be total gridlock.

Uber and Lyft have some advantages in certain contexts. But car services can’t overcome urban geometry.

2. Even lightly-used transit beats heavily-used ride-hailing services

Not every bus is packed, but even a mostly-empty bus can use streets more efficiently than Ubercars. A bus carrying about 10 passengers per service hour is generally considered to be “low-performing,” TransitCenter points out. But that still beats the pants off ride-hail services.

“For an Uber or Lyft driver to serve ten people per hour,” writes TransitCenter, “it would mean the driver is picking up a new passenger every six minutes, physically impossible in American cities.”

3. Demand for transit peaks at different times than demand for taxis

If you look at when Uber and Lyft are most popular, it’s during the night, when transit runs less often. Meanwhile, transit is at its fullest during the a.m. and p.m. rush. Not many people use Uber and Lyft for regular commuting.

Transit and ride-hailing services can complement each other — especially at times or in places where transit is weaker. But don’t be taken in by anyone predicting the end of transit — buses and trains aren’t going anywhere.

Elon Musk’s idea for fixing traffic suffers from one fundamental problem

Elon Musk — the restless billionaire behind Tesla, SpaceX, and SolarCity — was stuck in annoying traffic and mused that one solution would be to drill more tunnels. All he’d need, really, is a giant machine…

Everyone’s trying to figure out whether Musk is genuinely serious about starting a brand-new tunnel-boring company or not. Who knows! But tunnels are fun to think about, so why not pretend he is serious and think through how this might actually work….

One obvious hitch to Musk’s scheme is that some cities are already trying to dig new tunnels to accommodate traffic — and it’s far from easy! There’s a lot of existing infrastructure buried in the ground beneath cities, from water mains to electrical cables. And the tunnels themselves often need to be reinforced. That makes tunneling slow, difficult, and expensive work.

Seattle is a cautionary tale here: Since 2013, the city has employed a massive 57-foot-diameter boring machine named Big Bertha to drill a 2-mile highway tunnel beneath the downtown area. Yet six months after work began, Big Bertha broke down after overheating. Drilling finally resumed in late 2015 — but then had to stop again after a sinkhole opened up near construction. Perhaps Musk can improve on Big Bertha. But that brings us to an even deeper problem with his idea. Building more tunnels is just not a good way to alleviate traffic congestion. In fact, it would likely do the opposite.

The “fundamental rule” of traffic: building new roads just makes people drive more
In January 2016, during SpaceX’s Hyperloop pod design competition, Musk explained why he thought tunnels could help alleviate traffic:

It’s a really simple and obvious idea and I wish more people would do it: build more tunnels. Tunnels are great. It’s just a hole in the ground, it’s not that hard. But if you have tunnels in cities you would massively alleviate congestion and you could have tunnels at all different levels — you could probably have 30 layers of tunnels and completely fix the congestion problem in high-density cities. So I strongly recommend tunnels.

Except economists and traffic experts have been studying this issue for a long time and they’ve found the exact opposite. When cities add new roads to a congested area, it usually doesn’t alleviate congestion. Instead, it just induces more traffic, as people take advantage of the added road space to drive more.

Granted, there can still be good reasons for fast-growing cities to build new roads. They just shouldn’t necessarily expect traffic jams to disappear as a result. Los Angeles got a firsthand glimpse of this after widening its I-405 freeway, a project that cost $1 billion. “The data shows that traffic is moving slightly slower now on 405 than before the widening,”

So what does help alleviate congestion? If cities really want to erase traffic jams, many transportation economists would instead recommend that they charge people to use roads when they’re crowded — a policy known as congestion pricing that has popped up in places like London, Singapore, and Stockholm.

Early research suggests that pricing really does cut down on traffic, as people decide to move their commutes to non-peak hours, shift to mass transit, or cut down on trips overall. It’s arguably even more effective if cities use the funds to provide alternative transportation options.

The downside is that congestion charging tends to be rather unpopular, since people don’t like it when they suddenly have to pay for something that used to be free. (It’s the same reason why checked-baggage fees on airplanes have incurred such a backlash.) So urban planners tend to favor building new roads and widening existing roads — or, in Musk’s case, new tunnels — even if the research suggests again and again that it doesn’t cut down on congestion.

Now, that doesn’t mean a tunneling machine would be useless! Remember, Musk also has plans to start colonizing Mars within a decade. And humans living on Mars would probably want to spend most of their time underground to avoid the higher levels of solar radiation that hits the planet.

UBER’s Rise From SCAB To Superstar

So in case the term is new to you, what is a SCAB?

The Urban Dictionary defines it as: ” A worker, often temporary, who crosses a strikers’ picket line, going to work in place of the strikers.” An example of usage:
“The scabs had their cars egged when they arrived at the factory.”

SCABS used to be looked down on in America.

Well, this is how UBER arrived on the business scene in 2008.

uber03

What happened? First of all, UBER started using a computer “APP” to order a taxi (or whatever you call it in UBERese).

Uber had some financial problems like trying to break into China. But some smart financial persons solved their money problems by modifying their business plan. Now they are in the “self driving car” business.

uber02

Now they are in the “tech elite” of America!

No word about “scab labor” anymore.

They even got invited to Donald Trump’s “tech conference”. This is the same Donald Trump who counts on support of organized labor embracing a “scab company”.

California could not handle testing of self-driving cars, so they relocated to Arizona

uber04

Robots Making Supply Chain Inroads

Robots aren’t coming for our jobs, are they? In a recent survey, supply chain professionals see them having a big impact in the very near future, so it may be a good idea to keep working hard! On the Wall Street Journal site, Loretta Chao takes a look at the survey information and provides an opinion or two. Read her article HERE.

Tesla’s Supply Chain Challenges

Tesla has a problem we wish we all had: too much demand. On the supply side, the hot car company is fighting to crank up its supplier base. Bob Ferrari, on the Supply Chain Matters site, examines Tesla‘s challenges with its supply chain and expresses admiration for their candor about why they’ve fallen behind. Check it out HERE.

We Know How to Fix Traffic, We Just Don’t Want to

It’s shaping up to be Traffic Week here at L.A. Weekly, with a cover story on the MTA’s new $120 billion transit plan, plus coverage of a new study showing that, yes, L.A. has the nation’s worst traffic jams (but the 405 isn’t as bad as you think).

It’s tempting to think that traffic is one of those insoluble dilemmas of Los Angeles — just the price you pay to live in a thriving megalopolis that a lot of other people also want to live in. But the fact is that transit experts do have a pretty good idea of how to fix traffic.

There is a catch, however. The situation is sort of like that Citizen Kane quote about making a lot of money — it’s not so difficult, if that’s all you want to do. Similarly, it’s not that hard to solve traffic, if all you want to do is solve traffic.

The solution is congestion pricing. The MTA does this, on a pilot basis, on the 110 freeway south of downtown and on the 10 freeway in the San Gabriel Valley. It’s had a mixed record so far — a lot of people use it, but a lot of people don’t like it. But if you ask James Moore, the director of the Transportation Engineering Program at USC, it should be used everywhere.

“If I were king, I would price all the capacity,” Moore says.

The tolls on the 110 and 10 “Express Lanes” range from 25 cents to $1.40 per mile.  As traffic slows, the tolls go up. The goal is to maintain a minimum speed of 45 mph. (Many more details can be found here.) The idea is that putting a price on use of the freeway internalizes the external costs of driving, and forces people to make more efficient use of the freeways.

“If you don’t use price to allocate resources, other mechanisms emerge, such as queueing,” Moore says.

A traffic jam is thus little different from a Soviet-era bread line.

So now, on those segments of the 110 and the 10, drivers finally have a choice. They can pay a toll and zip along in the fast lanes, or pay with their time to use the congested, non-toll lanes. The problem is that too many people are choosing to pay the toll.

About 500,000 people have obtained the transponders that allow them to drive in the toll lanes. In January, the MTA staff reported that the lanes are so crowded that speeds have dropped. When traffic gets too slow, all the toll-paying drivers are kicked out and lanes revert to carpool-only.  To address this issue, the MTA decided to boost the maximum toll in increments of 10 cents per mile.

During the debate, some of the board members voiced concerns about the whole concept. Supervisor Don Knabe complained that there is “no rhyme nor reason to the pricing,” and noted that people sometimes dart in and out of the lanes to avoid paying.

“None of this makes any real sense,” argued Supervisor Sheila Kuehl. “I have never liked letting people pay to ride in these lanes.”

Kuehl said she could see the argument for allowing hybrid and electric vehicles in carpool lanes, because it lowers carbon emissions. But she did not see a case for letting solo drivers pay congestion tolls. She also noted the problem of allowing access for low-income drivers, which the MTA has addressed to a degree through a rebate program.

“Nothing is gained but money,” Kuehl said.

There is another gain — a faster commute for people willing to pay for it — but to see that, you’d need to be able to imagine yourself using the toll lanes. Kuehl’s argument is similar to one you sometimes hear from rail critics: if it doesn’t benefit non-users, then there is no benefit. In fact, the real benefit of either mode goes primarily to those who take advantage of it.

What non-users really want is free-flowing traffic, even in peak hours, in one of the greatest cities in the world, for free. But you can’t have all of those things. If you’re against congestion pricing, it just means you prefer to have bad traffic than to make the tradeoffs required to improve it.

That all said, the Express Lanes might work better if they were set up differently. For instance, when traffic in the toll lanes slows, all the electric cars and carpools could be kicked out, giving priority to the toll-payers. That would make traffic a breeze for the toll-payers. But the MTA has chosen to encourage carpooling and electric vehicles, at the cost of greater congestion.

In the world where James Moore is king, and all lanes are subject to congestion pricing, there would be a real concern about equity. Rich people would happily pay the tolls, while a lot of poor people would stay home. That’s one argument for building out a functional transit system, which would offer decent mobility for the low price of $1.75 per trip.

But in the world where toll lanes are an option alongside non-toll lanes, drivers have a choice of paying with their time or their money. By not offering that choice more broadly, the MTA is forcing everyone to pay with their time.

What The L.A. Times Missed In Their Story About Declining Metro Ridership

The Los Angeles Times‘ front page Wednesday declared, provocatively, that despite the billions of dollars invested into Southern California mass-transit, fewer people are using the system than were in the 1980s.

The piece touched off a firestorm of conjecture asking why this might be the case, and whether or not we should continue collectively pouring billions into a transit system people seem to be leaving. This is not a new issue. L.A. Weekly covered the issue briefly last October, with similar conclusions as the L.A. Times piece yesterday.

But the Times’ piece did spur advocates of Los Angeles’ transit ecosystem to rise to the defense of public transit, explain why there might be a decline and point out faults with the Times’ reporting.

What the Times Missed

Ethan Elkind, a faculty member at UCLA Law School and author of the seminal transit history of Los Angeles Railtown, argues that the Times’ reporting amounts to climate-change deniers who pick an artificially warm year in the 1990s as evidence of the phenomena’s absence. By picking a year in the mid-80s as a high-water mark, the Times headline could alternatively have read “Metro Ridership up nearly 30% in past 20 years.”

Elkind continues, arguing that the Times; claim that “billions have been spent” misses the point:

In addition, the article is a bit unfair to Metro in citing the billions of dollars that have been invested in rail during this period of declining ridership. Sure, since 2006 the region has been spending a lot of money on rail, but those investments have not yet resulted in actual, open rail lines. Since that year, only the East Side Gold Line and half of the Expo Line (to Culver City) have opened.

Projects funded by these “billions” that have not opened yet include the Expo Line extension to Santa Monica, the Gold Line extension to Azuza, the Purple Line extension to Westwood, the Downtown L.A. Regional Connector (connecting the Expo/Blue Lines to the Gold Line), and the Crenshaw Line which bridges the gap between the Expo Line and LAX.

Steve Hymon, editor of Metro’s blog entitled The Source, made the case that decreased transit ridership is an indication that, more so than ever before, we need to be investing in a robust transportation system that isn’t car-centered.

Hymon takes serious issue with a quote from the Times’ piece from James Moore, a USC professor who was quoted as saying “it’s the dream of every bus rider to own a car. And as soon as they can afford one, that’s the first purchase they’ll make.”

For Hymon, and undoubtedly several others, this signals nostalgia for a bygone era when cars ruled supreme. Cars still lord over Los Angeles, but saying everyone on the bus dreams of purchasing a car and parking on the 10 Freeway for an hour-and-a-half each day is, shall we say, unwise.

Hymon hammers his point home, underscoring how dangerous Moore’s claim is. “You think traffic stinks now?” he writes. “How do you think traffic would be with even a small fraction of Metro’s 453 million boardings behind the wheel of a car on your local freeway/arterial/residential street? 😩”

The dream of Angelenos has nothing to do with cars or buses, bikes or trains. Angelenos, just like people in other cities, dream of being able to get from point A to point B with minimal inconvenience. Whether this is in a buses with their own dedicated lanes, or in computer controlled cars smart enough to make traffic a thing of the past, we aren’t picky. Pledging allegiance to cars or transit as superior naively ignores that the future will depend on both.

So why the recent decrease?

L.A.’s transit history is complicated and contradictory. Ridership peaked in the mid-1980s when the then-Rapid Transit District Agency operated a network exclusively composed of buses. A decade of price increases and service cuts caused a decline in ridership until 1996, when the Bus Riders Union successfully litigated Metro in a civil rights lawsuit. A federal court decreed the agency halt fare increases and dramatically increase bus service.

As the Times points out, transit ridership following the court decision increased until it began falling again in the mid-2010s. This new decline can at once be explained by Metro’s recent fare increases, service cuts to several heavily-used bus lines, an improving economy, cheaper gasoline, and ride-hailing services like Uber and Lyft.

Yet these explanations fall short of describing any substantive trend away from transit ridership. Each one on its own undoubtedly has some effect on the overall numbers, but to make a significant dent in 500 million annual boardings demands a better explanation. The decline is somewhat of a paradox since Los Angeles’ interior is increasingly better connected by transit than ever before.

Could gentrification be to blame?

One condition that the Times didn’t particularly pay attention to is the demographics of most transit riders themselves. There is no data readily available on this issue, but it might be worth investigating how rising rent prices affect transportation habits.

The average household income of a typical L.A. bus rider is less than $17,000 annually, according to a 2014 survey by Metro. People who live in households making less than $17,000 annually don’t take Uber. They ride transit because it is the only option they can afford. Given that income inequality is increasing in Los Angeles, it’s not likely that the working class suddenly became affluent and can now afford to drive instead of taking the bus.

Could gentrification be the culprit? Over the past few decades, working class families have been getting priced out of neighborhoods like Silver Lake, Hollywood, Venice, Palms, East Hollywood, University Park, North Hollywood and Highland Park. Taking public transportation to work within Los Angeles proper might be doable from these neighborhoods, and owning a car seems like a luxury. But as this class get priced out to far-flung parts of the city, like Pacoima, or suburbs like Cudahy, public transportation becomes increasingly impractical. A worker not only won’t want to sit on a bus for four hours a day, it might be impossible if they need to get to a second or third job to pay the bills. The car, while previously an expensive luxury, has become a necessity in this case.

The pace of gentrification shows no signs of stopping. Los Angeles needs more housing and most of the housing being built is hardly accessible to the demographics who ride transit; much of this housing actually often displaces them.

More research is needed on this issue. Without serious attention to who actually rides transit—and for what reason—the city’s push for building dense housing and making public transportation service more regular may not solve L.A.’s impending gridlock.