We spent $1.1 billion dollars, 5 years, and an infuriating amount of additional hours in traffic expanding the 405.
It didn’t work. Not only did it not work, it actually slightly INCREASED travel time:
“A traffic study by Seattle-based traffic analytics firm Inrix has shown that auto speeds during the afternoon crawl on the northbound 405 are now the same or slightly slower — the maddening 35-minute tangle between the 10 and the 101 is actually a minute longer.”
But it didn’t have to be that way.
Increased car capacity actually causing more traffic is now a well known phenomena called induced demand. And California officials know it. Yet we needed a politically easy project to drop some money on for economic stimulus during Obama’s reign, so we did anyway.
Our next 405 hail marry? Well, let’s just let this quote from Metro sit right here for your reading enragement:
“Under Metro’s 28 by 2028 initiative, the Valley-Westside portion of the project is identified as a candidate for potentially accelerated completion by the 2028 Olympic and Paralympic Games in Los Angeles (LA 2028). This project may be expedited through a public-private partnership (P3), which if feasible offers the potential for greater innovation and flexibility with reduced risk and cost.”
The Sepulveda pass has been “identified” as a “candidate” for some sort of solution “potentially accelerated” by 2028…”if feasible.” My, Metro, what an abundance of non-committal phrases you have.
So any hope of 405 relief is at minimum a decade, if we’re lucky. Potentially.
What’s a congested city to do?
FIRST, FLYAWAY BUSES
Anyone who lives far from LAX knows the lifesaver that is Flyaway.
It is a charter bus service that provides a pickup/drop-off service to and from LAX to locations all around the greater Los Angeles area. Riders are free to nap, read, or surf the web while the bus braves the LA traffic for them.
Flyaway already operates on the 405, between the Valley and LAX.
So why couldn’t Flyaway (or any other bus service) expand its services to shuttle people across the dreaded Sepulveda corridor?
Well, because that would mean tens of thousands of people descending onto their drop-off location in Van Nuys to take the bus creating a much, much larger bottleneck than the 405. Moreover, people’s workplaces are scattered all around, making taking a fixed bus route almost pointless.
Well, why can’t Flyaway pick up and drop off people at every 405 freeway exit/on-ramp? That’s a less terrible solution, but it would only serve people who live within walking distance from the 405 who also just so happen to work walking distance from the 405. That’s a very tiny sliver of commuters. Those who don’t would have to Uber or Lyft, which would cause lots of traffic.
SECOND, BIRD E-SCOOTERS
As we amused ourselves in a previous post and pointed out:
“If you still think Birds poop on your head and Lime is for tacos and margarita, you’ve been asleep for the last few months. We are officially in the era After Dockless (AD).”
We’re talking, of course, about Bird, the dockless e-scooter sharing company. This extremely fun and green mobility service allows users to unlock a zippy ride from any sidewalk with just a few bucks and a smartphone, wheel themselves to where they need to go, and simply drop off their rented ride just about anywhere near your destination!
BIRDS, FLYAWAY, AND NESTS
If you haven’t already guessed, here is our proposal: merge Flyaway and Bird (their names already seem like match made in urban mobility heaven!)
First, designate a dedicated Flyaway pickup spot every few miles near on/off-ramps all along the stretch of the 405. Let’s call these Nests.
Next, place a flock of Bird scooters at each Nest (too much with the bird metaphor?) allowing people to wheel to a Nest from their homes, take the Flyaway, get dropped off at another Nest, and zip to their workplace on another Bird e-scooter.
Bird could use the stowage area of Flyaway buses usually reserved for traveler luggage for scooter rebalancing. And passengers could save a lot of time and stress by not driving! They could nap, read a book, or start their workday early via onboard WiFi.
Some Flyaway Options
Flyaway buses could take advantage of the carpool lane, saving a bit of time for riders. To maximize traveler time and carpool lane usage, some sort of system could be devised where each bus only has a few pickup and drop-off stops during each trip across the Sepulveda pass.
Another option is designating a bus-only lane on the 405.
Yet another option would be to designate a lane on Sepulveda as bus-only. This would probably be the simplest solution.
A WIN-WIN PRIVATE-PRIVATE PARTNERSHIP
Bird and Flyaway could package this transportation option to make a ton of money!
The 405 transports 379,000 vehicles PER DAY. Capturing say 10% of those idle customers at, say $3 per day would net Bird and Flyaway about $2.3 million in monthly revenue. If it proves popular on the 405, it could be replicated across the nation’s clogged arteries, creating a huge windfall for such private-private partnerships!
A GREAT SOLUTION EVEN FOR DRIVERS
Over time, as adoption rides, we may even see a reduction in auto travel time on the 405. Since road bandwidth for moving people with a bus is so much higher than with cars (9000 people/hour in a bus vs just 2000 in a car), getting thousands of cars off the road might result in a reduction in overall 405 traffic! This would be great for both people using the service and for those who need to drive.
SCOOTERS AND BUSES…SERIOUSLY?
So that’s the big idea…scooters and buses?
What are we, grade school kids on Razor scooters circa the Y2K nah-pocalypse?
No! We’re grown ass adults! We want REAL solutions like the Hyperloop or self-driving cars damnit!!
Until any of those happen, we DEMAND to grow old in a glass metal cage, spend tens of thousands of dollars on A/C blasting in our faces, and cling to 12 cup-holders for the many coffees needed to survive the 1.5 hour traffic…each way……um, hm.
Alright, maybe this ABSURD tech/hipster idea…just might work…
Let’s get down to business…..I don’t got no time to play around what is dis!
Sorry, post Y2K beats are now stuck in my head!