February 20, 2016
On the 20th of February, we turned our attention to transit. How do people get around the vastness of the LA metropolis? How do decisions about transit, transit systems, and the future get made? How are the huge infrastructural projects, like light rail and the colored lines of Metro’s trains, paid for?
As usual, we had the experts to help us. First up was Laura Nelson of the Los Angeles Times. The paper’s sole transit reporter, Laura is a font of wisdom about all manner of transportation issues, conundrums, and challenges. She talked with us about her “beat,” about the political processes inherent to making changes in transit funding, planning, building, and what she thinks the future looks like for the LA Basin. It was, like Laura’s previous visits to LASA, highly informative and accessible.
Next up: Denny Zane. Activist, visionary, political insider and outsider, Denny is one of the major forces behind Measure R, the sales tax initiative which has re-made the basin in terms of light rail construction and planning. Evangelical in his support of different paradigms of transporting people and goods around greater Los Angeles, Denny gave us a whirlwind and invigorating tour of new light rail construction. It was exuberant, informed, entertaining, and Denny’s optimistic predictions about the future of LA – near and far – were exciting to all of us.
We then explored a portion of the transit system first-hand. Dividing into smaller groups, we made our way from the downtown Central Library to Union Station via the Red Line. After a tour of Union Station—the rail and bus hub for the region and the proposed terminus of the high-speed rail line that has the potential to connect Los Angeles to San Francisco in three hours—LASA students headed home via the Gold Line to Pasadena and East Los Angeles and via the Red Line back to the Central Library.