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The city’s young new mayor is on a mission to restore the urban soul of sprawling Los Angeles
It’s 2:45 p.m. on a Wednesday, and Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti is in the backseat of a Chevy Tahoe that’s inching its way along the 101 freeway. This stretch of the road is eight lanes, but there are so many cars on it that everyone is moving at about 20 m.p.h.
Just a few hours earlier, Garcetti was traveling a lot faster. To get to an event in Universal City, Garcetti took the city’s Red Line subway, which can reach speeds of up to 70 m.p.h. Persuading more Angelenos to take the train could go a long way toward solving one of L.A.’s most intractable problems. “Right now,” he says, “we average 1.1 people per car. If we could get that to 1.6, the traffic problem would go away.”
In L.A., cars are a source of smog, billions of dollars in lost productivity every year and endless frustration for residents. Should Garcetti, 43—who was elected in May as the youngest mayor of L.A. in more than a century—ever manage to get the freeways flowing, it would be a triumph. And it would only begin to cure what ails L.A.