Hi Reddit! Do you hate traffic in LA, or if you've never been here, have you heard stories about how awful it is?

LA is infamous around the world for our traffic, and for our lack of a complete rail transit system. I got so frustrated with how bad things are, I decided to quit my day job working for one of LA's leading business groups (and to give up making a steady paycheck!) to work full time trying to make LA a better place to live, by tackling this huge problem. Today, I'm proud to serve as President of Angelenos Against Gridlock (http://www.endinggridlock.org/), which fights for a fully built out rail system, bike safety improvements, and road/freeway bottleneck fixes. Our efforts have been covered by the LA Times, Curbed LA, and the local NPR, NBC, ABC, & CBS channels, to name a few outlets. If you look at cities around the world, such as Chicago, NYC, DC, London, Paris, Tokyo, etc., you'll see a more complete rail transit / commuter rail system than we have in LA, where many people have no practical choice but to drive. (Yes, we have a good bus system, but buses get stuck in traffic.)

AMAA about Los Angeles, transportation, traffic, transit, urban planning, the nonprofit world, and what it's like to be a social entrepreneur. I'll be back later, this afternoon, to answer questions.

One request: could you help us win a $100,000 grant in the LA2050 Challenge by taking 30 seconds and voting online before Wed. at noon pacific? There's no catch; it's just that your vote on the GOOD website (http://myla2050.maker.good.is/projects/fundthisproject) helps us get a Goldhirsh Foundation grant to fight for a fully-built-out transit system. Thanks!

Together, I believe we can remake LA. Indeed, we must -- the status quo stinks!

--David Murphy, President of Angelenos Against Gridlock

Edit: Proof

Edit 2: I'm back to answer the first round of questions. Looking forward to it! Bear with me as there are a lot of good questions, and I'm trying to give thoughtful, detailed answers.

Edit 3: Thrilled with the response. Just spent a good two hours answering questions, and I'm going to take a moment to catch up on email. I'll be back later to respond some more. In the mean time, if you hate traffic, vote for our nonprofit project to receive a grant here -- we need perhaps at least 50 more votes in the next 20 hours to qualify as a finalist for a $100,000 grant. This is no Rampart-style promo (even if Rampart is in LA!); the nonprofit sector is hard, low-budget work, and this grant would really help us move LA forward, so we need your help!

Edit 4: I'm back, answering some more questions. Sub-edit: And I'm going to give my wrists a bit of a rest. I'll be back later.

Edit 5: Here's the slideshow I promised, comparing LA with other major cities. (Alt Link: larger size embed, on Slideshare)

Edit 6: Back to answer some final questions before calling it a night. Annd, it's 10 pm -- going to sign off.

Thanks for the tons of interesting questions, everyone. Keep in touch on Twitter (@EndingGridlock & @DavidCMurphy) and sign up for updates on our website, http://www.endinggridlock.org. And most of all: keep the faith! We CAN fix LA -- and indeed, we must.

Comments: 157 • Responses: 41  • Date: 

Larkin9128 karma

Please get in contact with Adam Carolla and his crew at Carolla Digital podcasting. He's been using traffic as a point of conversation for years. I'm sure he'd be pleased to have you on his show!

dmurphy0413 karma

Interesting idea -- I'll look into it. If anyone else has suggestions along these lines, feel free to share them, too. Thanks!

MagicBez17 karma

Hello!

As a British person who recently visited LA I started planning the trip just assuming that a massive city like LA would have a good metro system I could use like every other large city I've visted and was amazed to find that I'd have to rent a car to get around because the current metro is so limited. It felt like it was a bare minimum service for those who can't afford a car rather than a viable means of getting around a city. I was also struck when using a map to navigate the city how much of it is just criss-crossed by interstates and freeways, madness!

I read in a book I had with me at the time that part of the problem is that back in the day there was active lobbying for roads and against any form of mass transit and that railways were actually removed can you shed any more light on the history of that and how it came to pass? It seems like some terrible decision-making so I'd be interested to learn how it happened.

Also what are the plans for some kind of rail mass transit? Is there a planned map or anything?

EDIT Bonus question - which cities do you feel offer a good example for LA to follow?

dmurphy047 karma

Thanks for your question from across the pond. We have a LOT to learn from our British friends on transport issues, I have to say.

Believe me, my heart goes out to all the toursits who rightfully expect that a major city like LA would have a fast, functional way to get around by transit -- but we don't!, as you found out!

I've seen the rankings mentioned by some of the other posters below that give LA high marks for its transit reach, but these rankings miss the point. In other cities -- like, say London, NYC or DC -- rail transit exists and provides a faster way to get around than driving, so tons of people take it. In LA, while it's true we have an extensive (and much needed) bus system, even the so-called Metro "Rapid" buses get stuck in LA's crippling road gridlock, so they're often not a fast or dependable way to get around for people who have a choice. (Some routes work well, and if they do, I encourage people to ride the bus -- I have, but the point is, rail can zoom under (or over) gridlock, and we just don't have an extensive enough rail system here).

We got a bit of a late start. LA's first Metro stations opened 20 years ago; meanwhile, London is celebrating the 150th anniversary of the London Underground. (Speaking of which, The London Transport Museum makes a fascinating, and inspiring visit.) That just means we have to hurry up and do more to catch up, because we're so far behind.

In terms of proposing credible plans for a fully built-out rail transit system, that's what we want to do with our proposed LA2050 project, if we get the funding. (I'd appreciate your vote in the Goldhirsh Foundation's challenge, as they're weighing votes as part of the decision into whom to give $100,000 grants to.) Some people have designed transit fantasy maps for LA, which are cool, but we want to make sure when we develop and release our vision, that it's seen as credible by the insiders, policymakers, and politicos in LA. LA has a way of thinking to small on these issues, so we'd actually like to try to bring over some folks from, say, the UK (perhaps the Mayor of London, or the head of Transport for London) to remind us that what we're looking at has already been done in other cities around the world, to inspire us that we can do it, too. (But this is all contingent upon getting that funding....)

As for the Red Car / Roger Rabbit conspiracy conspiracy, there was an interesting piece on the local NPR station the other day. It's a bit of a long listen, but it's well done: http://www.scpr.org/programs/take-two/2013/03/29/31101/the-great-red-car-conspiracy-of-los-angeles

EDIT -- on the question of which cities I think do it best, I'll weigh in a little later. I have a slide I'd like to upload and link to when I have the time, after tackling some more questions first.

EDIT 2 -- here's the slide show: http://www.slideshare.net/dmurphy04/la-vs-the-rest-of-the-world-la2050-challenge

dmurphy043 karma

Leaving a second reply in case you didn't see my other edit: here's the slideshow I promised to upload: http://www.slideshare.net/dmurphy04/la-vs-the-rest-of-the-world-la2050-challenge

SnowGN15 karma

Does AMA: Answers no questions.

dmurphy046 karma

Hey gang, I've come back this afternoon to answer questions. I'm diving in now. Looking forward to a fun discussion on LA's least fun issue!

Sorry if you were frustrated with the wait. I had only promised in my intro to come back in the afternoon to answer questions as I had to handle some offline stuff (including helping a family member recover from food poisoning/vomiting -- one of the few things in LA that's even less fun than sitting in traffic!) Thanks for your enthusiasm and interest, though -- enjoying the great number of awesome questions. Keep 'em coming!

how_to_do_it7 karma

Having lived in Tokyo for 8 years without a car, I firmly believe that Tokyo has the best public transit system in the world - trains, subways, and buses. Yes, it can be crowded. But it is almost always on time, it is clean, the staff are polite and helpful, and it just works.

dmurphy046 karma

Cirrus42 already said it all: Tokyo is the gold standard.

I was in Tokyo for a friend's wedding, and it broke my heart to leave and come back to smoggy, gridlocked LA.

Here's an interesting list of Metro rail systems by ridership around the world, on Wikipedia:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Metro_systems_by_annual_passenger_rides

You have to scroll pretty far down there to find LA. Ah yes, just after that bustling metropolis of Rennes....

Granted, this is because the ranking only counts heavy rail (subways, not light rail), but I do think LA relies far to much on slower light rail trains (which aren't always grade separated (that is, they sometimes don't have their own dedicated route and get held up at intersections)) and busways to fill out its so-called Metro rail map: http://www.metro.net/riding_metro/maps/images/rail_map.gif

theripped5 karma

Will the 405 construction actually help alleviate traffic? Has the addition of Fast Pass lanes on the 110 past downtown actually helped deter traffic? Do you think that public transportation in LA will ever get good enough that LA will be like New York or San Francisco? I'm also a firm believer that because of car traffic it takes just as long to ride a bicycle anywhere in LA than it does to drive, what is being done about bike lane infrastructure and what needs to be done?

dmurphy046 karma

Well, it will be good to have more HOV lanes, but Streetsblog has been plenty critical of the validity of the current 405 widening project. Regardless, I'd say the ultimate need is for a subway under the Sepulveda Pass (that connects to major points in the Valley, goes to Westwood, and then connects to LAX, say). I mean, it's nuts we don't have it already. We've got the third busiest freeway in the country, and no subway (or even light rail) line as an alternative?

Yes, I do believe LA will get as transit to match SF (if not better). Perhaps New York City -- Manhattan particularly, is its own animal, owning to the intense density. But the fact is that parts of LA are actually quite dense, too, and well deserving of far more rail lines than we have now.

Glad to hear you're a bike fan. I am too -- I'm a huge advocate of making things safer for bikers (I've been hit by cars and had my bike totalled twice in Beverly Hills alone. Luckily I got only healable injuries.) Metro gets credit for launching a bike safety campaign, with ads on the back of buses, on billboards, and more: http://thesource.metro.net/2013/03/18/metro-press-release-on-its-new-bike-safety-campaign-cyclists-have-legal-right-to-take-a-full-lane/). In terms of infrastructure: I think within LA County, Santa Monica and Long Beach provide examples for other cities to copy, from bike lanes to amenities (SM Bike Center, Bikestation Long Beach), and more. Streetsblog LA and the LACBC are good places to read more.

Sirsilentbob4235 karma

what viable ways have you come up with to make people decide to use public transit, as opposed to their personal vehicles?

dmurphy046 karma

The key, with a built out system, is people won't be riding public transit just out of some charity act, or an act of public service, or whatever.

When done right, rail transit is faster than driving. And it's dependable, too -- you know it'll get you there faster, every time. So even if you want to go to the opera in downtown LA from Beverly Hills, it'll take you half, or a third as much time to take the subway versus driving. (Yes, in other cities, people take the subway to the opera. They will here, too!)

That's why we need to build as many subways as we can in LA, just light rail (which is much slower than subways (or heavy rail). And we need to make commuter rail (Metrolink) run MUCH more frequently than it does now. In places like London or Tokyo, you can hope on a commuter train every every ten minutes; in LA, some lines run hourly mid afternoon, and stop in on direction before dinner time is over. (Honestly?!)

In the meantime: we also need to do all we can to fight the sad stigma still attached to riding transit -- or biking. Think of conversations around the office watercooler. "Oh, you ride transit?" "You're a biker?!" Come on, it's not some odd thing. It's the dominent way of getting around in many cities around the world. It's something we need to support here in LA -- it's great for the environment, and for the pocketbook. Perhaps we need a campaign holding up public figures who ride transit (or bike). For a while, Mad Men's Vincent Kartheiser was famous for not owning a car and taking transit.

aznshrek885 karma

Hi, 1) If we better educated drivers to drive FAST in the fast lane and actually yield to faster cars and driver slow in slower lanes would that alleviate traffic? 2) How do you think the test Metro toll system is panning out? Why isn't this expanded to the 405 in the Sepulveda pass area? 3) Are there other initiatives you guys/gals are working on the alleviate traffic? 4) Is there anything we can do as an everyday commuter to alleviate the traffic problem? 5) Any way to incentivize employers to change working hours so that not everyone is jamming the road during rush?

dmurphy043 karma

Ahh, questions from a fellow Angeleno, I can tell, because I share some of the sentiment behind them!

1) yeah, I know -- it is frustrating when you actually get out of traffic gridlock, only to be artificially held back by people driving well under the speed limit and not being able to use the left lane as as passing lane. Here's what the The California Drivers Handbook has to say about which lane to use(see "Choosing a Lane"). Obviously, slow drivers going under the speed limit do limit yield/throughput, but to me your question speaks to a broader issue. I think LA, and perhaps California, does an exceptionally poor job educating drivers on, and then enforcing, road laws and common sense. In terms of the enforcement end, that speaks to the limited police officers on the road. LA drivers get away with crazy antics that just wouldn't fly in other jurisdictions that put more highway patrol / local police on traffic duty. (I know we all hate getting tickets, but tell me, haven't you seen some pretty nutty stuff on the roads?)

2) The toll system is a complex issue. On the one hand, it's nice to have an option for urgent situations (or daily use), but on the other hand, there's the whole "Lexus Lanes" equity issue -- the bottom line is, even if you think it's good to have more options, I think ultimately LA has to built a functioning, fast, frequent rail transit & commuter rail system that everyone can use reliably to get around.

As for the toll lane idea in the Sepulveda Pass, it's one of the things they're looking at for the next project there (click the Reports and Info section on the right).

3) Well, speaking of the Sepulveda Pass, one of our other initiatives is the Faster 405 Campaign, which actually is supported by some generous donations from a particular 405 commuter you might have heard of: Elon Musk. Check out [faster405.com](http://faster405.com/]. We think it's nuts that this current construction project is 13 months delayed, especially since each day of delay impacts a third of a million drivers. Kiewit, the project contractor, needs to get things done at a faster pace. This is the third busiest freeway section in the entire nation.

4) What can you do? Speak out on how frustrating traffic is, get involved in the political scene and demand more be done, write op-eds, carpool, bike, walk, take transit if it works for you, help change LA's car culture by being supportive of friends & colleagues who bike or take transit, speak out against the naysayers, and vote (before tomorrow at noon) to help us get $100,000 to fight to rally LA behind a plan for a fully-built out rail system.

5) On the flexible work hours thing, that makes all the difference. I used to work at my alma mater, Claremont McKenna College, for a few months while I commuted from my home in Beverly Hills. I was only able to do it because they let me work flexible hours when the traffic was manageable. There's a whole field of focus called Transportation System Management (TSM) & Transportation Demand Management (TDM) you can Google about. Here's a PDF from the Air Quality Management District (AQMD)

riffic2 karma

drive FAST in the fast lane

Wrong mentality, and the entirely wrong idea to teach. The number 1 lane is a passing lane, not the fast lane.

dmurphy045 karma

you're right!

SalsichatheChemist4 karma

[NB: Oldest post is 3 hours old at the time of my writing]

Hey man, you have to actually answer questions in order to make this a success. If you just abandon your thread it'll reflect on you more poorly than if you had never posted the AMA in the first place. Reddit is a fickle beast, and you have to play to the music if you want to make a positive impact.

dmurphy044 karma

Indeed! But I didn't want to get anyone's hopes up and that's why I said in my AMA intro I'd be back in the afternoon to answer questions, as I had some other stuff I had to do offline in the morning, but I'm excited to be back answering questions. I assure you, I'm a daily reddit addict under my other account, and spend far too often on the site night and day -- but tried to manage expectations by saying I'd be back in the afternoon, as I am. Glad you're interested in these issues, and sorry if you were frustrated waiting!

simulatinggladiator4 karma

[deleted]

dmurphy044 karma

Indeed, that was me asking that first question at that event, which prompted him to talk about traffic, and that Q&A ultimately led to us meeting and him making a couple major donations to our efforts. :)

ilivestrong843 karma

Love, love, love your enthusiasm for fixing LA. I am an architect who studied a lot of planning when in school, and it seems as though where there is density, the better the mass transit. LA has a density of 8,000 people per square mile and the metro only has 2,645, which is less than phoenix 2,745, and denver 4,044. So it seems as though fixing the metro of LA is the problem and is going to require billions and billions of dollars. A typical light rail will run 50 milion per mile and a BRT will run up to about 20 million per mile. Have you put a cost estimate on what a full buildout of the metro would cost for a BRT or lightrail? Why has it taken so long for LA to get their ass in gear to get this fixed? this shouldve planned for 40 years ago and had dedicated ROW's available...

dmurphy045 karma

Thanks! Means a lot.

It's shameful, frankly, how past generations have failed us. They've left us with a deeply dysfunctional Los Angeles region, where the daily quality of life is severely impacted for millions upon millions of people. It's incumbent upon us to do all we can in our lifetimes (sooner rather than later) to improve things as much as possible.

In terms of cost, all I can say at this point is that Measure R) was just a small drop in the bucket of what's needed. It's been estimated to bring as muchas $40 billion over 30 years for transportation projects, but while that sounds like a lot, it's no where near enough.

I mean, look at London's Crossrail project. It's a £15bn (US$23 billion), and that's on top of a Tube system that's already a marvel of the world, that's been built over 150 years.

kotalikmyballs3 karma

I wrote a small research paper on the traffic in Austin this semester and ways to alleviate it. I pretty much came to the conclusion that the best way to alleviate traffic is to force people to ride public transportation by making driving more expensive. Have you guys come up with a similar solution or is there some other solution you're proposing?

dmurphy041 karma

I think the first thing we need to do in LA is build the rail system so transit is competitive with driving. Of course, you raise a lot of interesting points, too.

All7hatRemains3 karma

Can you come to Washington and fix ours too?

dmurphy043 karma

Haha. It's funny; I grew up in DC. Believe me, the Metro subway system there is far ahead of LA's in terms of scope, use, and usability. Albeit, it certainly is showing its age, with all the escalator issues, overcrowding problems, and management issues over the years.

Tom Friedman & Michael Mandelbaum's book, That Used to Be Us: How America Fell Behind in the World It Invented and How We Can Come Back has an anecdote that rings true about how the WMATA (the folks behind the Washington Metro system) takes almost as long to fix a couple escalators as China takes to build a huge new convention center.

stonedotjimmy3 karma

Very excited to see this AMA, I am an Urban Planning student at USC and I'm definitely looking at transit improvement as a career possibility.

I know there are already plans in place such as MyFigueroa that will help aid biking and transit use in busy corridors, but how do you think policy makers will be able to convince Angelenos to adopt complete street plans that take away parking and lanes of driving? While from a planning perspective it's vital in order to get drivers out of their cars and onto bikes/transit, how can we convince them to do so without the requisite density and mixed land use?

I'm currently reading Green Metropolis for a sustainability class and while encouraging biking and transit use is good, it's just not feasible without density. LA is the archetype of suburban sprawl, what aspects of the city can be taken advantage of though to make it more sustainable?

Thanks for doing this AMA (and if you're looking for an intern this summer, I would be stoked to work in something so closely related to my major)

dmurphy042 karma

Awesome -- I'll have to keep you in mind, man.

Right now, the naysayers tend to make the most noise. We need more folks involved in the political process.

stonedotjimmy1 karma

Do you think LA could really become a biking city though?

dmurphy042 karma

YES! We have the climate for it. Look at how popular CicLAvia is.

Bikesharing will help bring more riders. We really need to make thing ssafer for riders, and provide more amenities. (I used to commute by bike to Century City, but there were no bike repair options anywhere nearby there -- nuts.)

njsg2 karma

[deleted]

dmurphy042 karma

All the time, especially in LA. I mean, come on -- so close to places like LAX, the Hollywood Bowl, Dodger Stadium, but not close enough. Come on, guys!

ilivestrong842 karma

I love the quote from the LA planner who stated "It doesn't matter how many lanes i put on a highway, in a matter of months we'll be right back to where we started" It seems as though gridlock is impossible to fix until people move to mass transit or some other means. I think the only realistic possiblity to getting this issue fixed is for the google car to actually be implemented in the next twenty years. How do you feel about it? I think it's the only way for us to fix cities like LA realistically...

dmurphy042 karma

Can't wait for the Google self driving car!

mar_oso2 karma

Do you think that the U.S. must consider a total redesign of many of our cities? So many cities here have been designed and built up with the car in mind. Our dependence on the car is, I think, largely in part due to this fact.

njsg1 karma

[deleted]

dmurphy041 karma

Well, I think some US cities get things right. I grew up in the Washington area. For much of the time, I lived in Friendship Heights, a wonderful, walkable area with high density condos and apartments walkable from the subway stop. I'd walk over to the subway (or take a shuttle bus paid for by a local tax assessment) and ride it to my internships at the US Capitol or to go out with friends.

But sure, I think the US has a ton to learn from Europe and Asia on rail & bike issues generally.

bretbball12122 karma

Last summer, I attended the opening for the Chatsworth extension of the Orange Line Bus system and wanted your opinion on whether you think bus systems like the Orange Line with their own corridor ease traffic as much as people say.

Also, I'd like to know your opinion the Purple Line extension into the Westside and whether you think plans for a "subway to the sea" is realistic possibility.

I am a lifelong resident of LA but have been out of the state for college for the last 3 years. What are the most recent developments for public transportation in LA?

Thank you and I really admire your hatred of traffic and/or love for this city.

dmurphy042 karma

Thanks!

Yes, the Orange Line is a fine start. But having ridden it myself when it gets hugely overcrowded, I have to say, it's not enough. It's kind of nuts that a region like the San Fernando Valley (which would be the sixth biggest city in the USA if it were combined into one city) has just a bus line and a tiny spoke of a subway system peaking over the mountain. It's no where near enough. Of course, there's a history to the whole reason of why the Orange Line is a bus way and not a rail line, but bottom line, looking forward: we need to think much bigger to meet the Valley's needs.

Can't wait for the Purple Line. Bring it on! And yes, we need to, and will, find a way to get it to the sea. Have you seen traffic on Wilshire West of the 405 lately? There's a need! (The Expo Line won't be enough -- Wilshire & Exposition fan out an serve really far-apart areas, further east.)

In terms of big developments, Measure R was a start, back in 2008, of course, but then Measure J failed to pass more recently to speed things up. Leaders are now looking at lowering the threshold for things like Measure J to pass, questioning the need for a two-thirds majority requirement.

ilivestrong842 karma

How much do you think poor city zoning and codes has been a cause of LA's gridlock. Donald Shoupe of UCLA, the parking guru, ssems to think that most of our gridlock problems has been linked to problems with free parking or cheap parking. Are you working with the cities in the metro to increase parking prices and therefore force people to make better decisions about how to get work? i.e. bus/lightrail/biking... etc.

dmurphy042 karma

Anyone circling around a business district knows they're wasting some time on the road due to parking issues, sure. (Speaking of which, check out the ParkMe app

But I think we all know there's a ton of time wasted on the freeways and roads because there are just too many cars trying to fit on these vast "parking lots" (freeways/roads) at a time....

Justin3d2 karma

Opinion on motorcycle lane splitting? As one of the few states where this is allowed I've heard it helps with congestion. Essentially creating 2 or 3 "extra" lanes. Perhaps an initiative to promote more 2 wheel commuters, and educate the general public about the benefits of safe lane splitting would be a good idea.

dmurphy043 karma

I don't have a strong opinion on it, except that as someone who knows how vulnerable people are on two wheels in a four wheel world (having been hit while biking on my (human-powered) bicycle), I always try to move over and give room to passing motorcyclists as a courtesy.

monpetitloup2 karma

One way couplets should be considered for most of the major corridors in LA. One way couplets exist in almost every major city in the US. Does 3rd street really need to be 2 ways with no bike lanes, no dedicated transit lanes, and valet parked cars blocking lanes every other block? Converting 3rd street and Beverly Blvd from La Cienega to DTLA into one way East-West couplets would improve traffic flow, enable streetcar corridors and protected bike lanes to be built without taking up extra space. Cars making left turns blocking traffic would be reduced or eliminated. Protected bike lanes where the bike lane is between the parked car lane and the sidewalk instead of the traffic lane and the parked car lane could be implemented. It would also free up space for a dedicated lane for streetcars or electrified BRT. The opposition by business owners regarding the loss of parking could be quelled by pointing out that there would still be the same amount of street parking!

dmurphy041 karma

I've got to say, there are a lot of tools that are being used in other cities, but either aren't being used in LA, or aren't being used very much here, whether it's what you're talking about, or reversible lanes, bus only lanes, amped up "don't block the box" (don't block intersections) enforcement, traffic circles (except for one), etc.

pteronura2 karma

What impacts do you think your work could have on other cities with poor transportation infrastructure?

dmurphy041 karma

Well, I think we need to learn from the successes and failures of cities -- our own, and others'. I'd love to see a book written on how LA got into the mess we're in.

Liore1232 karma

traffic isn't that bad... I commute to work using the metrolink. Works pretty well. However if its rush hour or near 8 am I would not want to be on the freeway. The traffic is really bad only during that time. As an angelino born and raised... any other time than listed is usually okay .

dmurphy043 karma

I love Metrolink -- but I think it's nuts that I can't take it out to a dinner in Claremont (at my alma mater) and then catch a train home back to DTLA. The last train back is waaay too early.

That's what we're saying: we need more of Metrolink. Far more often, later hours, more days.

IllGiveYouTheKey2 karma

Your original post mentions road/freeway bottleneck fixes. Arguably, all this would do is release suppressed demand and de-centivise public transport use/investment.

Secondly, what are your thoughts on congestion charging beyond toll lanes, as in London? It's been pretty successful there, will all profits by law required to find improvements in bus services.

dmurphy043 karma

Well, I certainly think rail transit is the big goal, but there are some nutty interchanges and intersections in LA that common sense suggests need fixing. I'm glad they fixed the 405N-101 interchange a few years ago -- the traffic used to back up the entire mountain. In terms of strange intersections, the 134/101/170 intersection doesn't allow connections in all directions. From what I remember (could be wrong--would have to research), work was stopped during an earthquake, and it was never finished correctly. Major intersections that in other cities would have left turn signals have none in LA.

In terms of congestion charges: the thing to keep in mind in London they already had the ample rail system in place that people could take. If you don't have that, there are some equity issues that come up.

bigger_than_my_body2 karma

That's great! Thanks for the AMA. Did you secure the job before leaving your previous employer?

Were you qualified for the job, or did you have more passion than know-how and were trained on the job?

You say you're a social entrepreneur- I understand the social part, but fail to see the entrepreneur part. Did you found the organisation? Is there a profit? I'm just confused because you also said it's a non-profit. Thanks David!

dmurphy042 karma

When I quit to do this transportation stuff full time, I was working for the Valley Industry & Commerce Association, one of LA's leading business groups (where I did cover transportation & land use issues), and had another offer in hand to be Vice President of Government Affairs for another major business group in LA. That position would have paid $75K a year + benefits -- something I admit I sometimes think of when foundation grants are slow to come in for this current work, and I find it hard to make ends meet. But I have to say, I'm really proud of the cause, and feel I'm working on an issue that's of great importance for millions of people. And so that's a source of satisfaction. You can help us in a big way by [voting for us to get a $100,000 grant from the [Goldhirsh Foundation(http://myla2050.maker.good.is/projects/fundthisproject). It would mean a lot.

You asked about the nonprofit status and things. The way it works with a lot of newer social entrepreneurial efforts, as with us, is that you approach an existing nonprofit with your idea in an arrangement called fiscal sponsorship. (You still have to do the fundraising, but you work with them and their existing nonprofit status.) We're a project of the Rose Foundation for Communities and the Environment, a 501(c)(3) public charity nonprofit.

T1mac2 karma

It's been 3 hours since OP posted this IAMA and no replies. Maybe OP got caught in traffic.

dmurphy043 karma

LOL. That's one problem with solving traffic in LA -- if we solve our mobility problems we won't always be able to use that catch all excuse for everything.

But it'll be worth it!

(No, I had other stuff I had to take care of unfortunately, and that's why I promised in my AMA to come back in the afternoon to answer questions, but I'm excited to be back and answering questions. Thanks for your interest!)

TheWayoftheFuture2 karma

How might an Olympic bid for LA work together with making traffic better in LA?

dmurphy042 karma

That's an interesting idea--some external event to rally Angelenos to get things done by a deadline....

MsMaria5112 karma

Hi, I live in NYC, enough said about that. What I wanted to share was this film I recently watched called 'Grassroots' with Jason Biggs I think you would find it interesting and relevant. It was based on a true story about an eccentric guy who tries to get elected to city office so he can extend the monorail in Seattle. At the end of the movie there were pics and clips of monorails from other cities around the world. Monorails are electric and clean and after I nosed about on the internet for more info I found how practical, safe, and green thy are. No gas or emissions which is something LA can do with a little less. Much like the subways in New York. Not to mention the beauty of the monorail, some I've seen are absolutely gorgeous and since they are above ground a rider will get to see the cityscape on their way to work or to school. Also the countless jobs it would create. My father is a Union Ironworker and I am a welder so take this into consideration. I think its a good idea.

dmurphy041 karma

thanks!

ghost-pacman41 karma

Ha, your title made me imagine a kill bill moment with you staring at traffic for several minutes before going to the store and having a hot fuzz esque lock and load montage with traffic signs and stuff. Then calling your boss on the way out

"Boss, I won't be able to make it to work from now on, traffic's in the way!'

dmurphy041 karma

there are soooo many movies where traffic plays a role. What's that movie with the opening scene where there's a guy stuck in traffic while he watches a woman scoot along past him with a walker?

Mr_Softy1 karma

I've always thought that a relatively inexpensive way to greatly expand Metro in LA would be to build elevated train tracks along each of the freeways (similar to the 105). The city is oriented to the freeways already--why fight it?

dmurphy042 karma

I appreciate your desire to get things done quickly & cheaply, but keep in mind that freeway-adjacent areas are often pretty pedestrian-hostile environments (keep in mind you're often going the "last mile" between the transit stop & destination on foot).

You want transit to serve the heart of business & residential districts.

TheWayoftheFuture1 karma

Is my idea crazy? If so, why? Here is my idea:

Would it be possible to build a train for cars above existing freeways that people could drive onto when travelling long distances through the area? For example, say I live east of downtown and want to go to the west side. What if I could drive my car up onto some sort of train that was above the existing 10 freeway and it could take me and my vehicle to the west side. That way, I am not wasting near as much gas to get there, less wear and tear, less exhaust, and when I get to the west side, I have my car with me. Cars are part of LA culture, for better or worse. Why not make part of the solution a way to move cars around better, rather than get people out of cars altogether. Along the major freeways, I think this could remove a lot of traffic from the freeway and allow people to get closer to their destination without being part of traffic.

Full disclosure: I've lived in LA for over a decade and ride the Gold, Red and Purple lines often, and commuted from the SGV to Santa Monica for several years.

dmurphy041 karma

Oh, man, I had the same thought many a time inching along in traffic during road trips to/from college (I went to Claremont McKenna College in Claremont). The Amtrak AutoTrain came to mind as a source of inspiration -- something to think about during long bounts of gridlock.

I mean, anything's possible if there's willpower and knowhow to get it done. I'm not sure there's willpower for this right now, so maybe our best bet will be getting self driving cars!

CIBRECA1 karma

I was wondering what the story was on the train system that was in place in LA long ago that was mainly for military purposes and companies who built for them. It had transit to Long Beach, Santa Monica and others. What happened?

dmurphy042 karma

Good question. I'm afraid it's beyond my expertise. Can anyone fill us in?

Rilakai1 karma

This could have been an awesome AMA but the OP appears to not understand how this works. "Coming back this afternoon" is not how you foster discussion, it's how you kill your AMA. No one likes talking to a wall and OP is not important enough to justify mass questions without active engagement. What a waste.

dmurphy043 karma

Sorry I disappointed you; I understand where you're coming from. Had to take care of some stuff offline (including a family member who was vomiting from food poisoning) earlier, but I assure you I'm happy to answer any questions you might have, or engage any time here or at @EndingGridlock (on Twitter) or [email protected] I appreciate your interest and desire to converse!

rakelllama1 karma

Fantastic! I'm an environmental planner (NEPA etc) and I just wanted to say that I enjoy seeing any publicity for planning work. Someday I would like to delve into city/urban planning work a bit more.

Question--do you use GIS for your work? If so, how do you utilize it? Good luck!

dmurphy041 karma

You know, I enjoy being on the receiving end of the more hardcore data end of things whenever I can, but given the broad scale of the problems in LA, we've been more focused on trying to raise the expectations and broader vision in LA. But I've always wanted to take a more detailed approach someday when it makes sense to do so. Thanks for your interest.

Yay for planning!

how_to_do_it1 karma

Can you explain how you decided to give up a good job to focus your efforts on something you were passionate about? From a practical standpoint, how did you make it happen (paying bills, explaining to friends & family, getting started on your new "career", etc.)?

dmurphy041 karma

Yikes, to be honest, if I knew the economy was about to tank (I did set out on this at the early part of 2008 -- haha), I'm not sure I would have done it. It's been way too stressful sometimes.

But as it was, I sold some Apple stock I had bought as a kid (I invested a minuscule amount as an exercise to learn about the stock market, and put it in Apple against the broker's strong advice -- it went up many times over!), and that held me over until the first money started coming in from our first event sponsorship.

In terms of offering advice to others, now, I'd say this: hope the economy will continue to come back to make things easier for social entrepreneurs and people considering following their heart and starting out on a part towards making the world a better place. It's frankly much more difficult right now than it should be.

freemarket271 karma

what about the population in LA and Southern California. Does it continue to grow? Is it majority Hispanic and Asian now?

dmurphy042 karma

Public democratic data sources would be a better source than I, but bottom line, we're facing a future of continued growth, meaning traffic will only get worse unless we take more dramatic action to build more transportation options.

intentsman1 karma

How many people would also have to quit their job to make a meaningful difference in commuting congestion?

dmurphy041 karma

LOL. They do say the bad economy made traffic a little better. I'd take worse traffic anyday, though.

MorleyDotes1 karma

Should change the name of the organization to Angelenos Against Rigid Gridlock then the acronym would be the sound we make when driving in LA traffic - AARG!!!!

dmurphy041 karma

I like it. I suspect that every day Angelenos are saying far worse than AARG in their cars, though....!

casualhobos1 karma

Could downtown rollercoasters be a cheaper alternative to subways and skytrains?

dmurphy042 karma