Wednesday, July 18, 2012

How Los Angeles works better than you think

One of the keys to maintaining one's sanity when living in LA is to know how and when to avoid freeways.  When the 110 runs clear, it takes about 15 minutes to drive from my house to USC; when it is clogged, it can take an hour.  But that is OK, because I have a (largely) non-freeway route home that takes at most 35 minutes.

One of the reasons surface streets (outside of the West Side) in most of Los Angeles run pretty well, even at rush hour, is that 90 percent of the traffic lights in LA are synced.  By the end of the year, all lights will be synced.  As a conseqeunce, despite its traffic, in most parts of LA, one needs to wait for only one light cycle to get through an intersection.  Again, this is usually even true on downtown streets during rush hour.

The cost of syncing all the lights in Los Angeles will come to $350,000,000.  Let's do a back-of-the-envelope here.  If syncing saves the average Angelino (there are 4 million) even one minute per day, and time is worth $15 per hour, syncing basically pays for itself within a year.  That is government spending everyone should be happy supporting.