Los Angeles: A Transit Metropolis in the Making?

  • Sylvia Y. He
Part of the Lecture Notes in Mobility book series (LNMOB)


The Los Angeles region epitomises polycentric urban form with highly fragmented and devolved governance. For a long time, the region has been cited as an example of urban sprawl. However, its pattern of employment is not really dispersed—as expected in sprawl—but, rather, organised in many decentralised ‘employment centres’. These centres have grown and evolved over a long period. In the emerging urban form, the density gradient has multiple local maxima coincident with the employment centres. The multimodal population density function and the underlying travel demand have gradually changed the way in which people travel, and how we make transportation plans so as to accommodate such traffic demand. We are witnessing a comeback in mass transit, both in initiatives and investment. Movement of people in this car-centric region, although still heavily reliant on its extensive highway network, may well be increasingly undertaken by public transport in the near future. Is the traditional notion that Los Angeles is a low-density, car-orientated city being challenged? A history review, a contemporary analysis, and an examination of the outlook for the future might lead us to an answer.


Public Transport Central Business District Parking Space Transport Planning Rail Transit 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


  1. 1.
    ABC (2010) Los Angeles crime rates hit 50-year lows.
  2. 2.
    Adler S (1991) The transformation of the Pacific Electric Railway: Bradford Snell, Roger Rabbit, and the politics of transportation in Los Angeles. Urban Affairs Rev 27:51–86CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. 3.
    Alonso W (1964) Location and land use. Harvard University Press, CambridgeGoogle Scholar
  4. 4.
    American Community Survey (2009) American community survey.
  5. 5.
    American Public Transportation Association (2011) American public transportation association.
  6. 6.
    Banham R (1971) Los Angeles: the architecture of four ecologies. Penguin Books, LondonGoogle Scholar
  7. 7.
    Bottles SL (1987) Los Angeles and the automobile: the making of the modern city. University of California Press, CaliforniaGoogle Scholar
  8. 8.
    BTS (2003) Research and innovative technology administration’s bureau of transportation statistics.
  9. 9.
    Cervero R (1989) Jobs-housing balance and regional mobility. J Am Planning Assoc 55:136–150CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. 10.
    CRA (2006) Feasibility study for the resurrection of the red car trolley services in the Los Angeles downtown area (2006th edn), July 2006Google Scholar
  11. 11.
    Ewing R (1997) Is Los Angeles-style sprawl desirable? J Am Planning Assoc 63:107–126CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. 12.
    Fishman R (2000) The American metropolis at century’s end: past and future influences. Hous Policy Debate 11:199–213 Google Scholar
  13. 13.
    Fung A, Wright EO (2003) Thinking about empowered participatory governance. Deepening democracy: institutional innovations in empowered participatory governance. Verso, New York, pp 3–42Google Scholar
  14. 14.
    Gerometta J, Häussermann H, Longo G (2005) Social innovation and civil society in urban governance: strategies for an inclusive city. Urban Stud 42:2007–2021CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. 15.
    Giuliano G (2004) Where is the “region” in regional transportation planning? In: Wolch J, Pastor M, Dreier P (eds) Up against the sprawl: public policy and the making of Southern California. University of Minnesota Press, Minneapolis, pp 151–170Google Scholar
  16. 16.
    Giuliano G, Small KA (1991) Subcenters in the Los Angeles region. Regional Sci Urban Econ 21:163–182CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. 17.
    Giuliano G, Small KA (1993) Is the journey to work explained by urban structure? Urban Stud 30:1458–1500CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. 18.
    Giuliano G, Redfearn C, Agarwal A, Li C, Zhuang D (2007) Employment concentrations in Los Angeles, 1980–2000. Environ Planning A 39:2935–2957CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. 19.
    Giuliano G, Redfearn C, Agarwal A, He S (2012) Network accessibility and employment centres. Urban Stud 48:77–95CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. 20.
    Götz K, Deffner J (2009) Eine neue Mobilitätskultur in der Stadt—Praktische Schritte zur Veränderung. In: Bundesministerium für Verkehr (ed) Urbane Mobilität. Verkehrsforschung des Bundes für die kommunale Praxis: direkt, vol 65, pp 39–52. BonnGoogle Scholar
  21. 21.
    Holzer H (1991) The spatial mismatch hypothesis: what has the evidence shown? Urban Stud 28:105–122CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. 22.
    Ihlanfeldt KR, Sjoquist DL (1998) The spatial mismatch hypothesis: a review of recent studies and their implications for welfare reform. Hous Policy Debate 9:849–892CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. 23.
    Innes JE, Booher DE (2003) Collaborative policymaking: governance through dialogue. In: Hajer MA, Wagenaar H (eds) Deliberative policy analysis. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, pp 33–59Google Scholar
  24. 24.
    Institute for Mobility Research (2010) Mobility cultures in megacities: final report. MunichGoogle Scholar
  25. 25.
    Kenworthy JR, Laube FB (1999) Patterns of automobile dependence in cities: an international overview of key physical and economic dimensions with some implications for urban policy. Transp Res Part A 33:691–723Google Scholar
  26. 26.
    LAPD (2010) The Los Angeles Police Department.
  27. 27.
    Los Angeles County Department of Regional Planning (2012)
  28. 28.
    Los Angeles Times (2008) Bottleneck blog: navigating Southern California traffic, transit and trends.
  29. 29.
    Mees P (2010) Transport for suburbia: beyond the automobile age. Earthscan, LondonGoogle Scholar
  30. 30.
    Metro (2009) Long Range transportation plan. http://www.metro.ent/projects_studies/images/final-2009-LRTP.pdf
  31. 31.
    Metro (2011) Los Angeles county metropolitan transportation authority.
  32. 32.
    Neighborhood Scout (2012) Neighborhood scout. http./
  33. 33.
    Newman P, Kenworthy JR (1989) Cities and automobile dependence: an international sourcebook. Gower, AldershotGoogle Scholar
  34. 34.
    Newman P, Kenworthy JR (2006) Urban design to reduce automobile dependence. Opolis Int J Suburban Metropolitan Stud 2: 35–52Google Scholar
  35. 35.
    Putnam R (1993) The prosperous community: social capital and public life. Am Prospect 13:35–42Google Scholar
  36. 36.
    Redfearn C (2007) The topography of metropolitan employment: identifying centers of employment in a polycentric urban area. J Urban Econ 61:519–541CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. 37.
    Roberts I (1996) Children and sport: walking to school has future benefits. Br Med J 312:1229CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. 38.
    Rodrigue J-P, Comtois C, Slack B (2009) The geography of transport systems. Routledge, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  39. 39.
    SCAG (2011) Profile of the City of Los Angeles.
  40. 40.
    Shoup D (2005) The high cost of free parking. Planner’s Press, ChicagoGoogle Scholar
  41. 41.
    Snell C (1974) American ground transport: a proposal for restructuring the automobile, truck, bus and rail industries. U.S. Government Print Office, Washington: a report presented to the committee of the judiciary, subcommittee on antitrust and monopoly, United States Senate, 26 Feb 1974Google Scholar
  42. 42.
    Taylor B (2004) The geography of urban transportation finance. In: Hanson S, Giuliano G (eds) The geography of urban transportation. The Guilford Press, New York, pp 294–331Google Scholar
  43. 43.
    Texas Transportation Institute (2009) Urban mobility report.
  44. 44.
    Tudor-Locke C, Ainsworth BE, Popkin BM (2001) Active commuting to school: an overlooked source of children’s physical activity. Sports Med 31:309–313CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. 45.
    US Census Bureau (2010) US Census Bureau.
  46. 46.
    US Department of Transportation (USDOT) (2009) 2009 National household travel surveyGoogle Scholar
  47. 47.
    Wilson R (1995) Suburban parking requirements: a tacit policy for automobile use and sprawl. J Am Planning Assoc 61:29–42CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Sylvia Y. He
    • 1
  1. 1.The Chinese University of Hong KongShatin, N.T.Hong Kong

Personalised recommendations