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Commuting in Los Angeles

By Matthew Yglesias  

"Commuting in Los Angeles"

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Atrios mentioned this yesterday but you often hear broad generalizations made about places that are actually only applicable to middle class, middle aged people. For example over the course of my life I’ve been informed thousands of times that “everyone” in Los Angeles drives everywhere when in fact 28 percent of LA County workers rely on something other than driving alone as a way of getting to work. That’s 1.23 million people—more than the entire population of many American states.

LA is, in fact, neither the most nor the least transit-oriented city in America:

800px-USCommutePatterns2006 1

And since LA is so much larger than, say, Portland the LA mass transit situation is a much bigger deal in national policy terms. The question facing cities like these that aren’t very transit-friendly but nonetheless have lots of transit users is how do they want to go in the future. Should they continue with policies that favor the rich over the poor while being simultaneously deleterious to public health and the environment? That doesn’t sound like a great idea to me. Instead, it makes more sense to build density near existing rail stations, to invest in improved bus service and bicycle infrastructure, and to encourage future development to take on a more compact form.

‹ Endgame

Princeton Readings in American Politics ›

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