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Studies gives state, L.A. region good marks for transit systems

May 12, 2011 | 11:30 am

Studies gives state, L.A. region good marks for transit systems

This post has been corrected. See the note at the bottom for details.

Two transportation studies released this week offer an unexpected view of California and the Los Angeles area, a state and region known for snarled freeways and ever-present smog.

Researchers at the Pew Center on the States said California was “leading the way” in measuring results from transportation investments.

[For the record, 4:53 p.m. May 23: A previous version of this post incorrectly said the state was "leading the way" in how transportation investments are spent.]

And the Brookings Institution ranked the Los Angeles-Long Beach-Santa Ana area 24th among the top 100 metropolitan areas for how well its transit systems serve residents and connect them to jobs, beating out regions such as Boston-Cambridge-Quincy, San Diego-Carlsbad-San Marcos and Philadelphia-Camden-Wilmington.

The Brookings' study, titled “Missed Opportunity: Transit and Jobs in Metropolitan America,” found that 70% of the nation's metro-area residents have access to some kind of transit and that coverage is highest in areas on the West Coast and worst in the South.

But the study cast a gloomy view of overall transit access to employment, saying a typical commuter using transit can only reach 30% of metro-area jobs in 90 minutes or less.

The researchers at Brookings argue transit systems need to do more to affordably connect residents with jobs.

But the L.A.-Long Beach-Santa Ana area was near the top of several of the study’s measures, ranking second in the share of working-age residents with access to transit and second in areas with 500,000 or more jobs accessible in 90 minutes via transit. The study says the L.A. metro area has 225,838 jobs accessible in 45 minutes using transit, 542,196 within one hour and 1,544,990 accessible within 90 minutes.

The L.A. area scored 96% in coverage of working-age residents near a transit stop. There is a median wait of 6.2 minutes for any rush-hour transit vehicle, according to the study, and 26% of jobs are reachable in 90 minutes or less.

The Pew study, titled “Measuring Transportation Investments: The Road to Results,” looked at how states measureed results from the estimated $131 billion in taxpayer money on transportation in fiscal year 2010. California was ranked as one of 13 states leading the way in safety, mobility, access, environmental stewardship and infrastructure preservation.

[Corrected, 4:53 p.m. May 23: A previous version of this post said the study looked at how states spent an estimated $131 billion in taxpayer money.]


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Photo: A commuter awaits the arrival of the Metro Blue Line at the Pico/Chick Hearn station on July 23, 2010. Credit: Mariah Tauger / Los Angeles Times