You mean to say that people moving into apartments and condos within a few blocks of mass transit aren't actually taking mass transit? You mean that City Hall's haughty presumption that "if we develop it, they will ride" isn't turning out to be true? Actually, there's been little extensive research on the subject, but the LAT did the next best thing: Its reporters spent two months counting cars going into and out of four apartment and condominium complexes at or near transit stations in South Pasadena, North Hollywood, Pasadena and Hollywood. Their findings should not come as a surprise: Most folks have no interest in taking the train or bus to work. They say it takes too long, isn't convenient to where they work, and tends to be... well, a yucky experience. The Times also found that the shops and cafes built into developments at transit stations can draw more cars to neighborhoods - and more traffic. Nice.
Harry Cosmatos, a Kaiser Permanente radiation oncologist, is exactly the type of educated, upscale commuter that planners and transportation experts want to draw via transit-oriented developments. In 2005, he purchased a townhouse in a project built partly atop the Mission Meridian Gold Line station in South Pasadena. He works at Kaiser Sunset, which is at a Red Line stop in Hollywood. He loves his new home, with its craftsman touches and picturesque South Pasadena setting, in arguably the best-designed transit-oriented development in the region. Cosmatos also likes the Gold Line ó it reminds him of the village train near where he went to medical school on Long Island. But the 36-year-old physician nevertheless drives to work. The train? "It's not for me," he said. "Maybe for other people, but not for me." It takes two trains and at least 45 minutes to get to work on the Gold and Red lines, Cosmatos said. Driving is 15 minutes faster, he said, and more convenient.
The Business Journal came to much the same conclusion a few years back when we had reporters and editors take buses and trains into work. With one exception, it proved to be an absurd ordeal. As the Times points out, mass transit doesn't work in L.A. because the rocket scientists who first concocted this system determined that most people use their cars to commute to work and most people work downtown. Wrong on both counts. So now we're stuck with a route system that doesn't jive with reality - and to make mattters worse, the current crop of City Hall knuckleheads who dreamed up the idea of mixed use developments near mass transit points are merely building on a flawed premise. #$@#&*%