The dynamics of transit innovation in Los Angeles


S. Adler

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date


Subject Area

organisation - privatisation, mode - bus, mode - rail, place - north america


transit investments, Los Angeles metropolitan area, rail, bus, privatization


The recent reemergence of the private sector in urban transit, as well as private-sector-like behavior in the public sector, are manifestations of profound political and fiscal crises that are reshaping the service and institutional structure of the US transit industry. These crises developed as coalitions of competing place-based activists sought to deploy transit investments as strategic weapons to gain location advantages. The history and politics of transit in the intensely competitive Los Angeles metropolitan area illuminate these dynamics, especially the continuing conflict between downtown Los Angeles and outlying business centers on the issues of rail rapid transit and the role of the regional bus transit agency. Privatization and institutional fragmentation, facilitated in Los Angeles by passage of a transit sales tax in 1980, are the strategies of choice for outlying business centers, just as region-wide agencies and radial rail rapid transit systems have been downtown initiatives.


Permission to publish the abstract has been given by Environment and Planning D: Society and Space, copyright remains with them.