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Cover page of Whose Budget is it Anyway? Demystifying the City of Los Angeles Transportation Budgeting Process

Whose Budget is it Anyway? Demystifying the City of Los Angeles Transportation Budgeting Process

(2020)

The purpose of this research is to investigate the current process through which the City of Los Angeles develops and approves its annual budget, with a particular emphasis on the role of transportation funding within this process. Additionally, the research focuses on ways for community-based organizations to become more effectively involved in the City's budgeting process. The research methods included professional interviews with city staff involved in or knowledgeable on the budgeting process, as well as focus groups with members of community-based organizations interested in potential budget advocacy. The results of the research revealed a much more complex process than the relatively straightforward timeline presented by the City itself. “Transportation” has a complicated role in the budgeting process because it means many different things to many different people. The report concludes with recommendations for community-based organizations to engage most effectively with the City's budgeting process. The report also includes an educational tool to be used by the research client organization (Investing in Place) in future budget advocacy coalition-building endeavors.

Cover page of Changing Plans: Flexibility, Accountability, and Oversight of Local Option Sales Tax Measure Implementation in California

Changing Plans: Flexibility, Accountability, and Oversight of Local Option Sales Tax Measure Implementation in California

(2020)

This report presents findings from research into the rules that govern amendments to and public oversight of local option sales tax (LOST) measures in California. While flexibility is needed to allow local transportation authorities to adapt in response to unforeseen circumstances, too much flexibility may hinder public accountability and allow for changes that fail to conform with the spirit of the project lists approved by county voters. Across all LOST measures enacted in California since 1976, I explore LOST measure provisions governing public oversight and expenditure plan amendments, and also explore the extent to which lawsuits affect LOST measure implementation and have bearing on the accountability and flexibility enjoyed by local transportation authorities. I find that many of the measures require the formation of independent Citizens Oversight Committees, whose roles vary from purely advisory (i.e., review, report, and advise authority boards) to more direct authority (e.g., veto power over proposed expenditure plan amendments). I also find that most of the measures allow for project lists and governing rules to undergo amendment during implementation, though the procedures for approving such changes and the circumstances under which such changes may take place vary across measures. In general, these findings suggest that most measures seem to achieve a relative balance between needed flexibility and public accountability, ensuring that amendments take place infrequently and that such changes tend to preserve the measure’s initial intention. Finally, I describe important findings related to lawsuits, and overview landmark legal cases with precedent for implementation of subsequent measures.

Cover page of Meeting Travel Needs: Becoming Reacquainted with a Community’s Unmet Travel Needs

Meeting Travel Needs: Becoming Reacquainted with a Community’s Unmet Travel Needs

(2020)

Our current examples of transportation needs assessments focus on existing and established travel behaviors to predict the needs of a community, but there are populations that face additional burdens that are not captured outside of surveys and data collection efforts in academia. The goal of this research is to identify the best practices to collect data on the unmet travel needs of a neighborhood, particularly for disadvantaged populations. This project is a mixed-methods approach involving a literature review, open-ended interviews with academics and professionals with survey experience, and focus groups with community members in Downtown Huntington Park. This study finds that the ideal approach for collecting information on the travel needs of a neighborhood combines the benefits of active and passive data collection using smartphone-based surveys and thorough outreach to ensure that the survey instrument works for underrepresented populations. The current efforts to study the travel needs of disadvantaged populations in studies occur at a smaller scale, but with a focused effort in relationship building and community context. There are quality resources, examples, and guides for community needs assessments that can serve as a template for agencies seeking to explore the needs of their communities, such as the Mobility Equity Framework and the University of Kansas Community Tool Box. Community members in Downtown Huntington Park conveyed a willingness to participate in a smartphone-based travel survey, expressed their car-dependent nature, and provided valuable feedback on how outreach could be conducted in their neighborhood.

Cover page of Need for Speed: Opportunities for Peak Hour Bus Lanes Along Parking Corridors in Los Angeles

Need for Speed: Opportunities for Peak Hour Bus Lanes Along Parking Corridors in Los Angeles

(2020)

Expanding the network of bus lanes in Los Angeles can alleviate slow bus speeds, which are caused by the fact that most buses share a lane with general traffic. Many corridors in the city feature curb lanes that allow traffic during peak hours, but restrict access to allow parking in the off-peak. Introducing a bus lane on these corridors during peak periods, instead of a travel lane, offers an opportunity to improve bus service while preserving parking outside of peak hours. This report examines bus performance along 75 miles of peak-hour parking restriction (PHPR) corridors to determine whether bus lanes could improve travel times for riders and increase net person throughput. I developed a novel methodology to scrape the real-time position of LA Metro buses from a publicly accessible application programming interface (API) and convert collected coordinates into accurate representations of bus speeds on PHPR lanes. Using two months of data, I describe the speed of buses on PHPR lanes and calculate the potential travel time savings provided by bus lanes. With these findings in hand, I draw on historical traffic counts and the planned person capacity of LA Metro bus service to weigh the potential benefits of bus lanes. I find that bus speeds and travel times on PHPR lanes will likely universally benefit from bus lanes. However, only one-half of studied corridors will see an increase in net person throughput with the addition of a bus lane, typically on corridors with more frequent bus service.

Cover page of The Movement Towards Mobility Justice in Los Angeles: Building a Framework Grounded in Popular Education & Community Knowledge

The Movement Towards Mobility Justice in Los Angeles: Building a Framework Grounded in Popular Education & Community Knowledge

(2020)

As a response to the shortcomings of Vision Zero, People for Mobility Justice (PMJ), an organization focused on addressing the transportation needs of communities of color, created the ì5 Dísî; Decolonize, Decongest, Decriminalize, Dignify and Dream, as an invitation to collectively define safe streets. This project uses a mixed-methods qualitative approach to address the following question: What are the ways mobility justice is defined under the threshold of the 5 Dís; Decolonization, Decongest, Decriminalize, Dignify, and Dream? Findings: Mobility justice exists between this growing body of literature and advocacy work that pays attention to racial geographies. From all the 5 Dís, Decriminalize was spoken about the most amongst all participants. Interviewees tied it to the policing of Black people and their movement in public space. Participants connected these discussions to historical legacies of slavery, state violence, redlining, police brutality, and enforcement, as well as highlighting platforms of resistance such as Black Lives Matters, and abolitionist movements. Recommendations: PMJ has the potential to strengthen abolitionist movements such as the Movement for Black Lives. There is room to build stronger relationships between mobility justice and environmental justice. PMJ can create employment opportunities for the Leimert Park participants to help facilitate workshops for their programs. PMJ can engage in conversation about the freedom to remain in place as a way to address power and policing as it relates to Decriminalize and Decolonize.

Cover page of The Effect of Bus lane Management Techniques on Operator Experience, Safety, and On-Time Performance

The Effect of Bus lane Management Techniques on Operator Experience, Safety, and On-Time Performance

(2020)

Bus-only lanes can speed up buses and improve reliability of service. In Los Angeles County, there are 27 miles of mixed-use bus lanes. These lanes are passively enforced through striping and signage but do not receive regular active enforcement. Due to this lack of active enforcement, most of the lanes in LA County have high vehicle intrusion rates. I analyze two bus lanes that have received vastly different enforcement practices to conduct a comparative case study of the effect of enforcement on bus lane operations. I examine the following question: how do different management strategies for bus-only lanes, entailing design solutions, passive enforcement and active enforcement affect the safety, security and on-time performance of LA Metro bus operations? I rely on four main data sources from LA Metro to conduct these case studies: internal reports on bus lane enforcement costs and practices, bus operator surveys I administered jointly with LA Metro, in-service on-time performance data, and incident reporting of roadway collisions of Metro buses. I find that bus lanes in Los Angeles largely improve roadway safety and bus performance, and even more so when there are robust management practices in place. This research report fills a critical gap in the literature by documenting and quantifying the effect of unenforced lanes on the safety of bus operations. †

Cover page of Off the Rails: Alternatives to Policing on Transit

Off the Rails: Alternatives to Policing on Transit

(2020)

The recent #BlackLivesMatter movement has focused media and political attention on the long-standing issue of state-sanctioned violence and racism in Black and Brown communities in the U.S. The same officers involved in use of force cases at a home, business, or during a traffic stop could be patrolling on transit the next day. Los Angeles Metro, the largest transit agency in LA County, reformed its policing contract in 2017 and now splits security responsibilities amongst four agencies, and approved the latest five-year, four-agency policing contract for $797 million in 2017 (Nelson, 2017). Given the high price of policing for Black and Brown transit riders, and Metro, my research investigates whether armed law enforcement personnel best provide safety and security services for transit, on behalf of the ACT-LAís Transit Justice Coalition. Drawing on case studies informed by prior literature, and my own interviews and research, I evaluate the promise of alternatives to armed law enforcement for ensuring passenger safety on Metroís system. I review alternative safety programs like transit ambassadors, elevator attendants, social workers, performance art, and fare-free transit. These programs, unfortunately, are the exception and not the rule. There is a true need to expand the definition of public safety and which bodies can provide those services to the public. While mimes and clowns usually do not come up in discussions of ways to improve transit safety, the evidence reviewed suggest that they, along with social workers, transit ambassadors, and elevator attendants, can be cost effective tools. While more evaluations are warranted, the data gathered here supports the merit of alternatives to policing on transit. I would argue that the challenge is more a matter of budgeting and leadership, rather than creativity and inspiration.

Cover page of Complete Streets for Culver City

Complete Streets for Culver City

(2020)

Researchers analyze Culver City streets by looking at a variety of factors, including collision rates and community feedback, to prioritize Complete Streets interventions. As part of this analysis, researchers collected quantitative data on average daily traffic (ADT) counts, citywide collision data, as well as transit boarding and alighting data within the city. Researchers then supplemented quantitative findings with qualitative data from Culver Cityís Bike and Pedestrian Action Plan community feedback. Researchers used both datasets to develop a Complete Streets street prioritization matrix. This matrix incorporates data as weighted criteria to highlight street segments in need of Complete Streets projects in the City. Selected criteria include the segments collision rates; corresponding community feedback; proximity to schools; proximity to existing and recommended bikeways; and proximity to high ridership transit lines. Collision rates and community feedback were given the most weight. The matrix results show that the Downtown Culver City and Southwest Sepulveda corridors are highest in need of Complete Streets interventions. Researchers developed design strategies, with cost estimates based on results of a Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats (S.W.O.T.) analysis. Researchers also analyzed gaps in the Cityís Complete Streets policy and General Plan Update by comparing best practices from neighboring cities; chosen due to local applicability and Complete Streets focus. This report provides concrete design and policy recommendations to facilitate the implementation of Complete Streets projects in the city and to prioritize the travel needs of people of all modes, age, ability, and race.

Cover page of Access Denied? Perceptions of New Mobility Services Among Disabled People in San Francisco

Access Denied? Perceptions of New Mobility Services Among Disabled People in San Francisco

(2020)

Thirty years after the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act, people with disabilities still face significant barriers to transportation access. In recent years, new transportation services known as ìnew mobilityî or ìemerging mobilityî launched entirely without accessible options. These services include transportation network companies (TNCs) such as Lyft and Uber, bike share, scooter share, and car share. Whether cities rush to welcome or grudgingly accept new mobility services, disability access is still too often an afterthought. This report, prepared for the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency, examines perceptions of new mobility services among disabled people in San Francisco via a survey of 218 people with disabilities. The study finds that disabled people in San Francisco see promise in some new mobility services but currently face significant barriers to use. Out of all new mobility options, respondents were most interested in on-demand automobility, e.g. accessible TNCs or accessible taxis. Respondents expressed significant concern about scooters and dockless bike share blocking the path of travel, and nearly 75 percent reported that an improperly parked scooter or bike created a mobility barrier for them on at least one occasion. Additionally, with broken sidewalks and missing curb ramps common, people with disabilities still face many barriers to basic mobility. This project offers the following recommendations: continue advocating for more effective TNC Wheelchair Accessible Vehicle (WAV) regulations at the state level, address the problem of scooters and bicycles on sidewalks, and build safer active transportation infrastructure to decrease conflicts between modes and make public space safer for vulnerable pedestrians.

Cover page of Decision Making Frameworks: Streetscape Cooling Interventions

Decision Making Frameworks: Streetscape Cooling Interventions

(2020)

This project analyzes various decision-making frameworks for climate adaptations within the context of streetscape cooling interventions. By focusing on the streetscape, the project brings together the complex issues facing governance, climate science, and community to analyze a specific hazard within an important component of the urban environment. Our goal was to find the contributing factors of the streetscape to the UHI and understand non-carbon impacts of the UHI and how to address those impacts. We determined three primary contributors to the UHI at the streetscape: impervious surfaces; vegetation (or lack thereof); and anthropogenic heat generation. With these in mind, we discuss three major cooling interventions for streetscape: cool pavement; transit shelters; and, tree canopy. Focusing on reducing the contributing factors to UHI (impervious surfaces, vegetation, and anthropogenic heat), we may be able to avoid the single metric of success thinking that has slowed cool pavement and other innovative cooling strategies. We suggest decreasing reliance on carbon based decision making frameworks, encouraging widespread bus shelters, implementing cool pavement on parking lots, and pursing a holistic approach to streetscape cooling.