Re "MTA Sees Success in Orange Line," Nov. 21
Patronage on rapid transit facilities such as the recently opened Metro Orange Line has been the topic of much dispute, and some perspective is needed. From the 1920s onward, land development practices and transportation policies in Southern California have encouraged the use of private automobiles and discouraged the use of mass transit.
New mass-transit infrastructure will not immediately produce similar ridership levels or benefits in our conurbation, where the car has been king. Such infrastructure is an investment in a future mass rapid-transit system whose patronage and usefulness will come gradually from two phenomena: (1) coalescence of new development around the new stations, and (2) increasing resource cost (space, time, fuel and environmental), which will raise transit's competitive advantage.
Currently, with high construction costs and limited funding, busways like the Orange Line are an effective means of establishing the arteries of this mass rapid-transit system quickly and at a relatively low initial cost.
ROBERT P. SECHLER