Once Common, Do Jitneys Have a Future in L.A.'s Transportation Mix?

In the latest entry in its fascinating series on the "Laws That Shaped L.A.", <em>KCET</em>'s Jeremy Rosenberg looks at the city's brief, but golden, age of the Jitneys, and whether they deserve a return to L.A.'s growing mix of transit modes.
July 29, 2012, 1pm PDT | Jonathan Nettler | @nettsj
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Rosenberg targets Chapter 213 from the Laws of 1917, nominated by James Rojas, city planner and founder of Place It! workshops and the Latino Urban Forum, one of "a series of escalating public policy and enforcement obstacles enacted during that era that crashed the jitneys' fast-growing business model while preserving the mass public transportation status quo."

So what's so important about Jitneys? According to Rosenberg, in their golden age, "L.A.'s jitneys often traveled alongside established and maintained streetcar lines. Jitneys charged a bargain five cents per ride. Jitneys were more responsive to the micro-needs of passengers. Jitneys required very little capital expense to operate."

Jitneys can play an important role in reaching under-served communities today, at a reasonable price, and can fill the gaps in L.A.'s growing transit system. "[A jitney is] market and demand driven, flexible, and requires very little subsides," Rojas says. "It reaches any location in L.A. County where there is a road, any time of day."

"Rojas is not in favor of privatizing everyone's commute...Instead, Rojas pushes for equanimity. 'I think we have to let the free market help solve public transportation,' he says. 'Its like the NYC MTA runs the buses and subways and private companies run the taxis. It's a balanced set-up.'"


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Published on Monday, July 23, 2012 in KCET Departures
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