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THE NEXT LOS ANGELES / TURNING IDEAS INTO ACTION : Getting Around : Are we creating a transit system that makes sense or simply a costly edifice that most Angelenos won't use? : Solutions : Spur Transit Growth with Private Competition

July 17, 1994

FROM: Genevieve Giuliano, associate professor of urban and regional planning at USC.

Giuliano advocates creating a competitive transportation market by issuing more taxi medallions so more cabs are available and by allowing more private bus and shuttle companies to serve communities.

Under the existing system, one behemoth agency--the Metropolitan Transportation Authority--basically serves most of the Los Angeles area, coordinating the Blue Line trolley, Red Line subway and various buses that serve 1.3 million passengers daily. But inner-city buses, like No. 204 on Vermont, are often overcrowded, exceeding industry standards for passenger capacity.

Public transportation has been set up using a model that requires large numbers of people traveling to a centralized destination, such as downtown Los Angeles, Giuliano said. But she and other transit planners say today's commuters travel to dispersed workplaces. As a result, there is an inadequate supply of transportation like buses, taxis and shuttles to serve commuters' needs in a timely fashion.

With more companies--small and large--competing, service to passengers would improve and could include more creative solutions, like van pools, Giuliano said.


There would be various obstacles to Giuliano's plan. The Public Utilities Commission conducts safety inspections of vans and buses and would have to increase its staff to keep pace with a larger number of private companies providing transportation. And labor union officials would balk, believing they were losing jobs to other carriers.

It's a complicated proposal, but it has a good chance of working. The cost has not been calculated, but such a plan could actually save money and be in place within two years.

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