JE NE SAIS PAS.
Metro is currently evaluating short-term and long-term improvements to the Blue Line including express service between Long Beach and Downtown Los Angeles, signal optimization, grade separations, and "the feasibility for a full grade separation and/or station relocation including additional parking at Wardlow Station." While these are all great ideas, I propose that the improvements to Wardlow Station should also study a relocation of the Downtown Long Beach FlyAway service to Wardlow Station.
LAX FlyAway service from Downtown Long Beach to Los Angeles International Airport began on December 30, 2015. However, Los Angeles World Airports (LAWA) placed the station in the wrong location. Downtown Long Beach will suffer low ridership similar to the Westwood service and the cancelled Santa Monica service. LAWA planned both Santa Monica and Long Beach as transfer points between public transportation and FlyAway in popular downtown areas. However, in 2015, 88% of LAX passengers arrived by door-to-door private transportation, while only 1% arrived via public transportation. Any service designed around serving 1% of potential customers will fail.
LAWA should build great (frequent, fast, comfortable) FlyAway services that cater to drivers and also integrate them with public transportation as much as possible. The most successful FlyAway service (based on frequency of service) is Van Nuys which operates as an off-airport parking lot. The other frequent service is Union Station which offers parking and great public transportation connections. Both of these stations are close to freeways and have large catchment areas of potential customers. Long Beach, like Santa Monica was, is located far from potential customers by being next to the ocean. Northbound drivers from Orange County (14% of LAX passengers) will not detour to Long Beach to ride FlyAway. Blue Line riders will not detour south either. However, Wardlow Station is located directly off I-405 and people could still easily transfer for the 15 minute ride to Downtown Long Beach. Last, parking matters. Parking at Van Nuys and Union Station is cheap compared to LAX and provided by LAWA and Metro respectively. Parking in Long Beach could be cheap, but non-residents will not necessarily know where to find cheap parking. With Metro looking into building additional parking at Wardlow, this parking could also be used for FlyAway customers.
Customers can (and do) take public transportation from Union Station or Long Beach. However, FlyAway offers a premium experience through faster, direct service that does not require a transfer to an airport shuttle bus. FlyAway should pursue fare integration strategies with transportation providers. Currently I only know of ticketing integration with Metrolink, but this does not include any fare integration. FlyAway should work with Metro, Metrolink, and local bus services to offer free transfers similar to Metrolink to Metro transfers.
Overall, this is a simple situation that can be explained by the equation Utility = Travel Time + Cost. If FlyAway is quicker and cheaper than parking at LAX, people will take FlyAway. If not, people will drive. FlyAway can provide great value to LAX passengers from Long Beach, South Los Angeles County, and Orange County. A stop in Downtown Long Beach, however, is setup for failure.
|Station||Frequency||Distance to LAX||Distance to Closest Freeway Exit||Public Transportation Travel Time to LAX Shuttle Bus|
|Van Nuys||55 trips/day||22 miles||1 mile||-|
|Union Station||48 trips/day||19 miles||adjacent||48 minutes|
|Westwood||17 trips/day||11 miles||adjacent||39 minutes|
|Downtown Long Beach||17 trips/day||21 miles||3.5 miles*||55 minutes|
|Wardlow Station||Proposed||17 miles||adjacent||36 minutes|
|Santa Monica||canceled||9 miles||4 miles*||53 minutes|
Traffic, parking, and Dodgers: three hallmarks of Los Angeles. How can we address the first two to make a Dodger's game better? Lots of folks have suggested public transit to Dodger Stadium. One of the more reasonable suggestions is an aerial tram between the Gold Line and Dodger Stadium. Let's see how the numbers stack up agains two similar, recently constructed aerial trams, the Portland Aerial Tram to Oregon Health & Science University and the Emirates Air Line in London. Obviously, the Dodger's airline sponsor, United, should buy naming rights to the United Air Line.
Dodger Stadium (estimated)
Generally, health is just so heavily regulated. It's just a painful business to be in. It's just not necessarily how I want to spend my time. Even though we do have some health projects, and we'll be doing that to a certain extent. But I think the regulatory burden in the U.S. is so high that think it would dissuade a lot of entrepreneurs. -- Sergey Brin
However, creating an exchange like the one described by Larry is possible. Let's start by evaluating the interests of the different parties involved:
I am really excited about the possibility of data also, to improve health. But that's-- I think what Sergey's saying, it's so heavily regulated. It's a difficult area. I can give you an example. Imagine you had the ability to search people's medical records in the U.S.. Any medical researcher can do it. Maybe they have the names removed. Maybe when the medical researcher searches your data, you get to see which researcher searched it and why. I imagine that would save 10,000 lives in the first year. Just that. That's almost impossible to do because of HIPAA. I do worry that we regulate ourselves out of some really great possibilities that are certainly on the data-mining end. -- Larry Page
Both patients and researchers understand they fundamentally need each other to succeed.
Next, as with any project, let's look a how research currently works. Large university medical centers treat lots (millions) of patients per year. These patients' medical records are just now being stored electronically. Researchers at the university can create studies and request medical records. These studies have to first be approved by the university's Institutional Review Board (IRB) before the researcher is allowed access to the medical records. The researcher then performs his or her study and can publish the results.
So, what are the problems with the current system? Like Sergey and Larry said, there is a lot of red tape. Any changes to a study have to be approved by the IRB again. Most universities are limited to just one hospital or a few hospitals. This means they have a limited number of patients, a limited geographic sampling of patients, a limited set of standard treatments, etc. These limits hinder research studies. Also, typically only researchers at universities have access to the university's medical records. A brilliant private practice doctor would have to partner with a university. Multi-university studies require a sponsor at each university and a review by each university's IRB. As you can see, large scale research projects don't happen easily.
So... How do we fix the problem?
We need to create an exchange (data warehouse) for patient records. But where will those records come from? They can't come from the doctors, hospitals, or universities. Those are all regulated by HIPAA. The records must come from the patients themselves. Here's how:
Patients can delete their accounts at any time. However, once a researcher has accessed their data, it cannot be revoked. The exchange could charge researchers for each study and pay patients for their records. The exchange could be created as a for-profit company,but patients would be more willing to upload their records to a non-profit. The exchange could also be used by researchers to recruit patients for their clinical studies.
This framework still needs a few tweaks, but it has huge potential. There are issues, technical and legal, to overcome, but they are not impossible.