Has Los Angeles’s love affair with the car come to an end?

And if so, what does it mean for the rest of America?


Los Angeles, the city that embodies America’s love affair with the car (and auto-centric suburban development), may be kicking cars to the curb, reports Bloomberg News (via The Boston Globe). A cultural shift is underway in L.A., changing how Angelinos get around their city, with massive investment expanding subway, light-rail, and bus lines and doubling bike lanes. “Los Angeles, the largest market in the biggest US state for vehicle sales, could be the ultimate test of the conventional car’s future.”

Though the new-car market has rebounded from the recession, Los Angeles County had 28,000 fewer passenger cars registered in 2012 than five years earlier, according to California’s Department of Motor Vehicles. Boardings on the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s buses and trains increased 4.7 percent to 41.3 million in May 2013, compared with May 2011.

Authority officials plan to spend $14 billion to accelerate that shift.

Under outgoing Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, who accelerated funding for light-rail and subway systems, Los Angeles is working to reach almost 115 miles of track, from the current 88 miles, by 2036.

Villaraigosa, 60, who was elected in 2005, championed a 2008 ballot measure that raised sales taxes in Los Angeles County by half a percentage point for 30 years, with the projected $40 billion in proceeds earmarked for rail lines, expanded rapid bus service, widening highways, and adding carpool lanes. Twenty percent of the revenue was devoted to highways, with the largest share, 35 percent, for rail and bus rapid-transit lines.

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