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The Next L.A. / Reinventing Our Future : READERS RESPOND : Transportation

On Sunday, Feb. 13, The Times published “The Next Los Angeles: Reinventing Our Future,” a special section intended to spur debate about what residents of Los Angeles and the region can do to shape their future. The public was invited to help in this search for new ways of doing things by calling TimesLink, the Times’ telephone news and information service. Today, Voices publishes reader responses to two issues examined in the special: transportation and education.

Dr. JOHN H. MILLER

Radiologist, USC School of Medicine, L.A. resident

I would like to raise the possibility of making Olympic and Pico boulevards each one-way going in opposite directions and of having HOV (car pool) and bus-only lanes on them to facilitate East-West traffic flow.

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As they do in many cities around the United States, we might have bus-only lanes on the right side of the street. That means no parking, nobody driving in the lane except vehicles making right turns to keep the bus traffic moving in a nearly unobstructed lane. In the far left lane we would have HOV or car-pool lanes.

I would like to see this arranged permanently during rush hours, although that’s difficult to define. Certainly to have no parking on those streets during non-rush hour would be inconvenient to people and deleterious to the businesses along that street. But to have basically a Diamond Lane on surface streets would further augment people being willing to car pool. It would be a permanent freeway alternative.

Another suggestion is to use the Southern Pacific right of way along Exposition Boulevard. The tracks are there to run something analogous to the Blue Line out to Santa Monica. There’s probably repair work that needs to be done but, probably with not a lot of expenditure, it could be brought up to speed within a matter of months. We have no East-West rail line--even the Green Line won’t really service Westside communities.

ANDREA IMMEL

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Librarian, Beverly Hills

I wonder if we couldn’t encourage the residents of West Los Angeles to make greater use of the bus for short trips. I use the Santa Monica bus and the Wilshire Boulevard bus line to get almost everywhere I need to go on weekdays, including work and shopping. I suspect other people could do the same thing, without too much effort, for at least a certain percentage of their trips during any given month. I live near Doheny Drive and Pico Boulevard. I figure the time it takes me to get to the Westside Pavilion or Century City Shopping Center on the bus is about the same as the time others spend parking and looking for their car on the way out.

STEVE D’AMICO

Administrative assistant, UCLA, Los Angeles

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I know they tried (a car-pool lane on the Santa Monica Freeway) 20 years ago and most Westsiders didn’t like it. But it’s 20 years later and it’s obvious to me, when I travel that route, we need it. We should consider a car-pool lane for that route and the 101 Freeway, running from Downtown out to the San Fernando Valley.

FRANK AMON

Retired engineer, Los Angeles

I would use buses and rail systems if they would take me where I want to go. For example, consider a large employer surrounded by large parking lots. Typically, your city bus stays on the street, thus ensuring that the bus rider walks farther than the farthest automobile driver. If the bus pulled up to the door, the reverse would be true. There seems to be a horror associated with a city-owned bus traveling on private property.

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Buses to the Downtown area work better because the buildings don’t have parking lots and the bus does pull up, essentially, to the front door.

Consider the many shuttle services to the Los Angeles airport: They pick you up at your house, as close to your front door as you can get with a car, and drop you at the airline of your choice. By comparison, all city buses drop you at remote parking lots, forcing you to get yourself and your luggage off one bus and on to another for the last leg of your trip. Shuttle buses work because they pick me up where I am and take me where I want to go and the driver helps me with my bags.

MAGGIE MACKENZIE

Retired environmental engineer, South Pasadena

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Automobile commuting would be impractical without subsidized freeways. But spoiled commuters expect portal-to-portal transport, without any transfer, without any inconvenience. I suggest that we switch the subsidies--put it on the gas pump, a significant tax in the category of 50 cents a gallon or more. With these funds, we support a convenient van system to pick up people at their homes and take them to the best rapid transit.

For instance, if they were going from Palmdale to Glendale, pick them up at their home and get them to the Metrolink station. When they got to Glendale station, they would have a transfer for a jitney van to take them to their office. The process would be reversed on the way back.

The cost of this, being subsidized, would be much cheaper than driving. We could build a high degree of convenience into it with computer link-up systems to get people from our widely dispersed residences to their widely dispersed destinations and still use our fixed rapid transit and bus transit on freeways to the maximum possible.

MICHAEL AKEY

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Facilities technician for Pacific Bell, Hollywood

Buses provide the most flexible and economical method of mass transit, along with some preferential lanes on the freeway for buses and car-pools. As President Clinton is reducing or eliminating subsidies for mass transit operational costs, we have to think about where we want to spend our tax money. We subsidize roads, not only with the gas tax, but with the ancillary costs of policing, paramedics and everything that goes along with it.

We need to evaluate those true costs in terms of how much we’re willing to subsidize mass transit, for the social benefits that can result. If it is frequent, convenient and clean, people will use it.

JOHN GLASS

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Works at the Institute of Industrial Relations at UCLA, lives in Studio City

Commuting to work by bicycle may not be practical for many people, but using a bicycle for doing errands in their neighborhoods certainly is. I’ve been doing this for years, along Ventura Boulevard. It is it faster than driving and much easier to park in this congested area. If more people would just do that, it would become a no-cost way of reducing traffic.

All it takes is a bicycle with a basket or luggage carrier and a box on it.

JOAN DOWNEY

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Nurse, Thousand Oaks

We’ve become very accustomed to long commutes to work. If we could somehow have work and home be closer--if the same type of jobs that people do were available closer to home--it would reduce traffic.

Another area that concerns me is safety of the roadways. I doubt that we are living in an area where flying-buttress type of freeway construction makes any sense. Recently, the 23 Freeway opened into Moorpark. It spans high in the air on single columns. I thought that type of construction was supposed to be outlawed after the Loma Prieta quake, yet this freeway opened probably in the last three months.

Are we doing what we know to do or are we just bumping along? It comes back to planning, I don’t think we do any long-distance planning. I offer the 23 Freeway as an example of a freeway that collapsed that had been rebuilt after Sylmar. Is it up to code? Does it have to fall down before we find out?

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