Pacific Swell | Southern California environment news and trends

Regional transportation plan could mean more buses & bikes; southern California might want that

Opponents to public transportation point to its sometimes sizable price tags. Or to the fact that it's often mandate-driven, and thus, the argument goes, vulnerable to political vagaries, like the need to snap a photo of someone putting people to work. But what if most people just want it? 

The Southern California Association of Governments is the planning agency for Imperial, San Bernardino, Riverside, Orange, Los Angeles and Ventura counties, and tomorrow it's going to vote on what's called its "Regional Transportation Plan."  Law requires them to make that document every four years, setting goals and priorities for transport. This time around, it's combined with a "Sustainable Communities Strategy." SB 375, the state's smart-growth-strategies law, requires the same planning agency to think about how to make the region's growth circulate better. 

They're voting on the (uh, massive) preferred alternative document on Thursday. When they do, the 6 county group will be the second to make a sustainable communites strategy; NRDC reports San Diego did it last week

And it's easy to see where the second requirement has influenced the first. The plan that's up for a vote includes $6 billion for bike and pedestrian projects, an emphasis on transit and walkable, bikeable neighborhoods, a dense housing mix, with more projected multifamily units, more focus on downtowns and transit stations as hubs for growth, and of course, public transportation. 

Now a public opinion research firm has conducted a survey on behalf of Move LA. That's a group specifically formed to push for public transit. It's backed by environment and public health groups. 

The researchers called nearly 800 people. By a 2 to 1 margin, those people preferred more public transportation over more roads and highways. Fifty-one percent support public transit "strongly." Sure, the greens wouldn't probably make a big deal of a poll that came out a different way, and maybe people don't favor road construction because they don't want to drive through construction traffic. But this one blew me away: 65 percent of people polled would rather live in smaller houses with shorter commutes than bigger ones with longer commutes. Big box mansions DON'T define us as southern Californians!

Check out more polling results here. Do you want more public transportation, or is there a road you'd like to see built?