Sunday, July 09, 2006

Bus Route Changes Make Downtown L.A. Less Safe For Commuters

As pointed out in a letter to the L.A. Times' editorial pages this Sunday morning, a change in bus routes in downtown Los Angeles has reduced safety for passengers. The change moved northbound bus lines on Spring St. one block east to less secure Main St.

It is bureaucracy at its worst, not only scrapping expensive prior investments, but also endangering passengers in what was already a dangerous part of downtown.

It wasn't that many years ago that government agencies spent millions of dollars providing cement lanes on both sides of Spring St. downtown. The aim was to make the lanes more long lasting, not requiring constant repaving. It took many months and much traffic disruption to accomplish. That is the investment now forgotten in a misguided effort to provide more on-street parking on the east side of Spring St.

But worse than that is exposing downtown commuters to more muggings and other assaults.

Even parts of Spring St., as today's letter from Linda J. Vogel makes clear, are already quite dangerous. Even several years ago, while working at the Times, I found that a restaurant just west of Spring and Fourth Sts. was located in a place that was too dangerous to patronize at night. Terry Schwadron, then a Times editor, was injured in a violent mugging near 2nd and Spring, right across from the Times.

Main St. is much worse. It is within a skid row that all the efforts of the authorities have not succeeded in eradicating. Homeless derelicts and drunks clog the streets, and there is a palpable feeling of insecurity.

In these circumstances, one wonders who had the lame brained idea of moving the bus routes and exposing thousands of commuters to new dangers.

Ms. Vogel reports in her letter that these dangers may force her to give up using Metrolink to get in from her home in Pomona, because she doesn't feel safe getting to work downtown on the buses from Union Station. Yet millions of dollars have been spent on systems to encourage commuters to reach downtown by other means than their cars. This change in bus routes jeopardizes these efforts.

Ultimately, it is probably Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa who should assume responsibility for this matter. Villaraigosa wants to take over the schools, when he has too much to do already just keeping commuters free from fear.

I know it's only downtown, and most people in the vast metropolitan area remain unaffected. But there is a broader issue here about the competence of bureaucracy, so we all should be concerned.


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11/27/2009 3:37 AM  

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