Access is the ability to reach desired goals, services, activities, and destinations. In transportation, access can be achieved through multiple avenues. First, mobility, the actual movement of people and goods, can provide access. Better mobility can provide better access, making it easier for Angelenos to make faster, more comfortable trips, use the mode of their choice, and navigate a reliable transportation system. In addition, there is a cost consideration with mobility. Transportation comprises a significant portion of the cost of living in Los Angeles, and many people must drive even if it creates a cost burden, because they have no other viable transportation options. Increasing access to a more comprehensive transportation system can make trips easier and more equitable for residents, workers, and visitors in Los Angeles.
Second, transportation access is also impacted by land use patterns. Transportation and land use decisions are interlinked, and often times large buildings and long blocks prohibit walkability and direct connections from one place to another by biking or walking. Many Angelenos are eager to explore and expand their transportation options, whether this means walking to the neighborhood park or riding Metro to work. However, there are many barriers to access such as lack of a walking path or a feeder bus to the nearest Metro station. Land use changes where appropriate can create an improvement in access to goods and services in the city.
Finally, with the internet and home delivery services, access to goods and services can be improved without directly involving travel. Telecommuting also fit into this category. Use of these substitutes can result in more efficiency throughout the entire transportation system. Providing loading docks for delivery or policies encouraging more flexible work schedules can help alleviate congestion and travel times for everyone.
What we’ve heard from Angelenos
“My LA would be a multi-modal model for the rest of the world…the safer and more user-friendly the streets and Metro are, the less people would drive.”
“A livable neighborhood will consist of connecting people to modes of transportation in a safe, efficient way.”
“Low cost public transit to high-use centers and public-use areas.”
“Coordinated and easy to use going from one [mode] to another.”
“Use various means—freeways, local streets, light rail, subway, bikes, pedestrian.”
“We need a way to connect with the rest of LA.”
Many participants remarked that they would like transportation options covering a wide geography of destinations that are also fast and reliable enough to be an attractive alternative to driving. They commented that ease of use and efficiency of connections are major factors when deciding to use public transit. The most frequently mentioned destinations that Angelenos want to improve access to are LAX, the beach, and Downtown. Participants noted specific improvements, routes, and modes for traveling to these destinations. There were additional suggestions for more bicycle and walking paths along and connecting to open space, parks, and features such as the Los Angeles River.
A significant deterrent to accessible transportation is the “first mile, last mile” gap for commuters who could potentially take transit but whose starting point or final destination cannot be conveniently accessed from the nearest transit stop/station due to distance, terrain (hills, street patterns), or real or perceived safety issues such as traffic or crime (see the 2009 Maximizing Mobility Study for more detailed evaluation of “first mile, last mile” options). Many participants commented that they would like to use public transit, but lacked particular services, such as park-and-ride lots at the closest rail station. These are potential transit system patrons that cannot use the system because of the lack of easy and efficient access to the transit stations. There were also many comments that driving is cheaper and faster than taking transit, and changing our use of the automobile would require both a shift in user travel behavior and improvements to the transportation system.
Access for All Angelenos
An increase in transportation access and options benefits all roadway users, which is why we are proposing a goal of “Access for All Angelenos.” We can ensure that all modes of transportation are given a place in our street network so that Angelenos will be able to have access to the transportation system and their destinations by any means. By increasing modal balance, we can prioritize safety and reduce conflict among the various users of the roadway. We can also make travel times more predictable and increase the number of destinations that Angelenos can easily reach. Planning access for all modes considers the transportation needs of all ages and abilities, in line with the Complete Streets Act adopted in California in 2008.
We can also evaluate particular areas and corridors to identify and fund programs and infrastructure improvements such as pedestrian crossings, bicycle lockers, shuttles, parking, or light rail expansion. By increasing access to services and amenities, we can give Angelenos more attractive, reliable choices for transportation and change our current travel behavior patterns. Even a small reduction in the number of vehicle trips can ease traffic congestion, combat greenhouse gas emission, and improve air quality. In fact, the 2008 RAND Corporation study found that reducing the number of cars on the road by 2 or 3 percent might cut congestion delays in the Los Angeles region by 10 to 15 percent.
We can implement policies and programs to improve public transportation performance or provide more feeder buses to the regional rail system. We can increase efficiency for goods movement and our infrastructure system. In addition, we can support land use decisions that reduce trip length, such as accessible neighborhood services and shopping. By increasing all forms of access to transportation, we can make our city safer, healthier, and more livable for all Angelenos.