Getting Around LA


LASA Learns Transit!

On the 10th of January, we started the New Year learning about 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 visit last year, 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.

Our bus awaited us.  We hopped on and made our way to Eagle Rock.  At a hybridized Caltrans and Highway Patrol facility, we were met by Caltrans engineer Allen Chen, the man who had designed the building only a few years earlier.  Here we saw how the freeway systems were monitored across the county, how the various systems of maintenance, safety, and law enforcement were coordinated through networks of technology and overlapping mission.  It was fascinating, and Allen was exceeding generous to meet us on a day in which the building is generally not accessible to the public.  An added treat was our tour of the basement, where we saw the base isolators upon which the building rests – so that even a major earthquake would be unlikely to disrupt crisis management teams assembled there.

We did a lot.  We learned a lot.