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Transit Has a Big Problem. It’s Called the Car.

Los Angeles is all in on public transit. But as Governing reports, we want our own vehicle. And when we have a vehicle, we drive it. We don’t take a bus or rail. The idea that transit has a cache that will attract people simply doesn’t hold water.

In Los Angeles, the number of bus and rail trips taken last year was the lowest in more than a decade. Over just the last five years, transit ridership has declined 15 percent.

What’s behind the huge drops?

Cars. More specifically, the fact that a lot more people who might otherwise ride the bus or train now own cars.

But despite this fact, LA continues to build the public transit system.

LA Metro’s blue, red and green routes all lost ridership between 2012 and 2016, even as the new gold and Expo lines added them.

The researchers also did not find that bus service cuts drove the declines.

“Instead, service expansion has been accompanied by less ridership,” they wrote. While buses got slower in traffic, Metro improved the on-time performance of its buses. Rail ridership fell, even though Metro’s train’s “maintained a near-perfect on-time record,” they noted.

Donna Martinez / VP of Marketing and Communications

Donna came to the John Locke Foundation in January 2003 after freelance writing for Carolina Journal and contributing to projects for the North Carolina Education Alliance. He...

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