Skip to content
CityLab
Transportation

In Los Angeles, Ideas for a Quieter Wait for Mass Transit

A UCLA researcher makes the case for several ways to cut noise at transit stations in the middle of freeways.
relates to In Los Angeles, Ideas for a Quieter Wait for Mass Transit
Flickr/prayitno

While most people in Los Angeles commute on its freeways, some commute in the middle of freeways. Sixteen of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority system's train and bus stations are located on freeway medians, where passengers wait for their train or bus as rivers of cars rush (or crawl) by on either side. The scenery is not particularly pleasant. Nor is the sound, which according to a new study could pose problems for agencies trying to convince more people to ride transit.

Decibel levels at these transit stations averaged from the high 70s to the high 80s, according to the study, written by Alexander Schaffer at the UCLA Luskin Center for Innovation. That's like a loud vacuum cleaner running circles around you or hearing a propeller plane fly a thousand feet overhead. It's not so bad in short doses, but when your train is 20 minutes away, the racket can start to get to anyone. Though some health problems can be associated with prolonged exposure to loud noises, Schaffer argues that the greater issue is the pure annoyance of the sound.