Look at the Griffith Park Plan’s New Numbers


When was the last time you sat around friends working on Math? For me it was my first year of college finishing off my last class of calculus before Sim City and my interest in urban planning took hold.

Now that Griffith Park is considering adding shuttles onto Mt Hollywood Drive, it’s time to bust out the abacus and GriffithPlan03make the latest study numbers dance!

On last week’s Larry Mantle show, Park Superintendent Joe Salaices came on before my segment commenting on some research(there’s) about usage.

During the two week spring break period when the study was conducted, 390,000 people visited the park. That’s quite a number.

At the same time, to handle this load, the park plans to counter with shuttle buses servicing viewers two to three times an hour. Does that sound like enough?

You do some simple math and:

390,000 people ÷ 14 days = 30,000 people/day

Okay, I know the correct answer is 27,857, but you’re never getting that exact amount everyday. On the weekends, you may well go over 40k, but let’s just go for 30k since that’s a reasonable scenario that they’ll have to plan for.

Next, let’s look at shuttle size. If you look at the Charter Bus Los Angeles fleet of buses, getting anything larger than a 15 seater would be tough to turn around and when you look at the 27 seater, you say no way. But for arguments sake, let’s pretend there’s a 22, which is almost 50% more riders.

Take Salaices’ worst case scenario of three shuttles an hour and that means 66 people can ride up every sixty minutes. Doesn’t sound like a lot.

Since the trams are not going going to start until 11am and I imagine the last one won’t leave after 6pm, that’s seven hours of shuttle time. So to sum up:

66 people/hr × 7 hours = 462 people/day

The other point of mention from the study Salaices brought up(the one that wouldn’t interview cyclists) is that 25% of park visitors came for the observatory and the rest to “take in the Hollywood Sign and views of the city”.

Okay, I’ll be your huckleberry:

30,000 people × 75% GP users = 22,500 to see the Hollywood Sign

462 Shuttle spots ÷ 22,500 visitors = 2.05% served

That sounds like a small amount of people you’re servicing. Go with the accepted 15 seater shuttle and you get only 1.4%. Factor in that since this will now become the city’s advertised viewing point demand is going to go up, not down.

Now I know not all 22,500 are coming to see the Hollywood Sign, but by seeing the numbers on Mount Hollywood Drive on the test program last year, there were far more than 462.

In order to meet that demand, you’re going to have to add more shuttles. Lots of them. Enough to clog up the road.
But let’s say officials never change their mind. Three times an hour isn’t enough, right?

The shuttles will have to travel up 1.3 miles of Mt. Hollywood Drive to drop people off and hit the turn around point. Let’s say the shuttles move at a speed of 15mph, which may sound slow on the city streets, but fast if you’re in a pedestrian zone. So to complete a trip:

2.6 miles at 15MPH = 10.4 minutes per round trip.

So three trips an hour mean a shuttle will be moving on the road for thirty minutes, meaning you have a 50% chance of passing one.

And that’s a conservative number as you’re not counting the time stopping to drop off and pick up riders and the Austin Powers turn around.

It’s pretty clear. If this plan goes through, you’re turning Mount Hollywood Drive over to vehicles and they’re only going to ask for more because of this new demand.

Even if you’ve already emailed, please email all involved with this issue again as some might not accept comments before the proposal was released last week. This takes seconds:

As a cyclist and hiker who regularly hikes and rides Mt. Hollywood I urge you all to not open the Mt Hollywood gates to city shuttle traffic. It will create a hazard for equestrians, hikers and cyclists on the Mt. Hollywood Drive, will disturb the serenity of one of the most popular trails and areas of Griffith Park, harm the environment and needlessly congest a wild area.

Thank you,

(your name)

General Manager, Michael Shull: MICHAEL.A.SHULL@LACITY.ORG
Superintendent of Griffith Park, Joe Salaices: JOE.SALAICES@LACITY.ORG
Board of Recreation and Park Commissioners:RAP.COMMISSIONERS@LACITY.ORG
LA City Council Member David Ryu: CD4.ISSUES@LACITY.ORG
Los Angeles Department of Recreation and Parks: paul.j.davis@lacity.com
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  • Luke


    Thank you for crunching these numbers. I agree – and told Mr. Salaices at a meeting last night – that providing that stub of shuttle service up/down Mt. Hollywood Drive not only creates unnecessary traffic on what right now is a walking/biking trail, but also cuts into the amount of service that can be provided elsewhere.

    My one quibble with your math is that the survey was conducted over 3 weeks, not 2. See the notes here from the Los Feliz NC Transportation Committee that I chair where we got a report from Joe on their pilot: https://drive.google.com/drive/u/0/folders/0B0vN9Csewk1SU2RJMlR0anBCSXc
    Additionally, Joe has talked about shuttles every 15 minutes, so you could see potentially a third more shuttle capacity than you’ve offered. So, while the numbers are – to be frank – still pretty sad in terms of overall shuttle capacity, at least there’s a slightly higher percentage who could take the shuttles relative to the number of park visitors.

    Ultimately, the only way this is going to be addressed in any decent measure is with a coordinate, very public campaign directing potential park visitors toward transit options and frequent park connectivity to said transit. That requires a coordinated effort between Metro/LADOT/Griffith Park that appears to be in the works but remains to be seen.

    • Zachary

      Hi Luke,

      The numbers I used were from Salaices own words on the Larry Mantle interview, but if we go with your numbers of shuttles running every 15 minutes, there’s going to be very few minutes on the hour that there isn’t a shuttle on Mt. Hollywood Drive. And let’s remember, the 22 person shuttle probably isn’t even possible. If it comes four times an hour with a regular sized shuttle, that’ll still only reach less than 2% while 100% of people who use that road lose their freedom.

  • calwatch

    I don’t think they are expecting every person who currently walks to the overlook, to take the shuttle. If the shuttle is a service geared to seniors and the disabled then that would be a great benefit to the public. The park needs to be accessible to all. Now, if you feel that a pedicab service can handle people on a wheelchair or on crutches, then that might be acceptable as well, but I doubt it.

    • Zachary

      So why just Mt Hollywood Dr? Why not up to the Hollywood Sign? Wouldn’t you think they’d prefer going up there where they have no access to?

      • calwatch

        I think your slippery slope argument is a strawman. Let’s stick to what is being discussed and the lack of access to a significant vantage point for people who are nonambulatory. A few shuttles an hour would greatly improve their ability to access the park, that was deeded by Griffith for the benefit of everyone. You are complaining about, as you state above, three vehicles an hour driven by professionals? Come on.

        • Zachary

          If it’s the view you seek, then the observatory is practically has the same view, especially through the photo lens of a camera. If it’s the disabled you care so much about, then the observatory is the clear choice with paved sidewalks and facilities.

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