Gold Line headlines roundup, Monday, Nov. 16

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I wanted to do something a little different with the transportation headlines today, concentrating on stories about this past weekend’s opening of the Eastside Gold Line Extension.

I’m going to start with one link that wasn’t a headline, but rather a comment board post about the Gold Line’s speed — or lack thereof — on The Transit Coalition’s website. A reader named Gokhan wrote:

The line is currently averaging only 13.9 miles per hour. This is obviously very, very slow, about the same as a regular local bus. I’m hoping that this is only because we are still in the quasi test phase. The travel time on this line needs to be cut by about 10 minutes.

How about the two subway stations separated by only 0.2 miles? Didn’t it require a ton of money and was it really necessary, given that it adds an additional minute to the travel time?
And if this line was going to be this slow, was the subway section needed at all?

Again, hopefully, the speed on this line will increase significantly in the future.

I agree. The problem, of course, is that this is mostly a street-running light rail line and speed can’t come at the expense of safety. The train is very slow over the bridge over the Hollywood Freeway and perhaps that’s one area a couple of minutes can be shaved. The original Gold Line has dropped its end-to-end run time from Union Station to Pasadena by seven minutes because of operational improvements.

Several media outlets focused on whether the Gold Line would help revitalize East L.A. The L.A. Times’ coverage noted that the area served by the train doesn’t have regional attractions found on other transit lines, but the Eastside certainly does have some good restaurants — and perhaps that will be the attraction.

The Downtown News had effusive praise for the new line in an editorial and hopes that it will bridge the geographic and cultural divide between downtown L.A. and the Eastside. Excerpt:

This is not to pretend that the rail line is a golden Band-Aid, that suddenly Downtown and Boyle Heights or other East L.A. neighborhoods will come together like East and West Germany did when the Berlin Wall fell 20 years ago. Rather, any change will be incremental.

Still, this marks the beginning of what could prove to be much greater connectivity. We’re glad that Metro had the ability to bring the rail line to fruition. We’ll happily start with the physical back and forth of thousands of humans a day. Hopefully the bonds will strengthen and the divide between the communities will diminish as time goes on.

The Human Transit website rolled its eyes at the arguments that the Gold Line should have entirely been a subway. Here’s a key excerpt:

Los Angeles has the worst deficit in transit infrastructure of any city in North America. No other city on the continent grew so large with so little rapid transit. Today, most of the region’s leaders understand this was a mistake, and are trying to build rapid transit as fast as they can. But underground construction is massively more expensive, so if you insist on undergrounding everywhere, you’ll get a much smaller network.

When you’re trying to build as much of a network as you can, as fast as you can, there are just three technically compelling reasons to bear the huge cost of going underground:

  • to get past a specific surface obstacle that can’t be bridged over more cheaply, such as the Hollywood Hills, or San Francisco Bay, or more commonly a segment where there’s no credible surface alignment, such as through Boyle Heights on the Gold Line.  (This is, admittedly, a grey area, as the credibility of a surface alignment often turns on the politics of how much you can impact current traffic and parking on the street.)
  • to get to a crucial station site — usually a connection point with other lines — where there’s no surface or elevated option.
  • to serve a very dense corridor where highrise development is or will be the norm, and which can therefore generate the very high ridership to justify a subway.  (e.g. Wilshire Blvd. in Los Angeles, Second Avenue in New York).  Even here, we’re talking about streets that are already so built out that elevated structure would be unacceptable.  If you’re just talking about future highrise corridors, elevated may still be the answer, as it was in Vancouver.

Here are the rest of today’s transportation headlines, courtesy of the Metro library:

50,000 Take A Free Ride On The Gold Line; No Major Problems Reported
Los Angeles Wave

After Decades Of Waiting, Their Train Have Arrived: A Sense Of Kinship And Progress In East Los Angeles As Riders And Residents Celebrate The Opening Of The Gold Line Extension – The Area Had Long Been Among The Most Transit-Dependent Yet Underserved
Los Angeles Times

Angels Flight Inches Forward: Safety Hearings Scheduled For November 20
Downtown News

Clear Track For Rail Car Bids
Los Angeles Business Journal

Don’t Let Arnold Schwarzenegger Divide And Conquer
California High Speed Rail Blog

East L.A. Hails Arrival Of The Gold Line; Activities Are To Be Held [Sunday] At Four Stations
Los Angeles Times

El Monte Takes Over $1 Billion Transit Village In Wake Of Fraud Investigation
San Gabriel Valley Tribune

El Segundo Ready To Fight Proposed MTA Rail Yard
Contra Costa Times

An Extension Of More Than The Gold Line: Sunday’s Opening Of Eight New Metro Stations On A Path From Downtown To East L.A. Lays Down Tracks Toward An Exciting Future (architectural review)
Los Angeles Times

Federal Oversight Of Subways Proposed: [D.C.] Red Line Crash Spurred Safety Plan, Obama Administration To Push Congress To Change Law
Washington Post

Gold Line Eastside Extension Dedication: Metro Gold Line Weekday Service Begins Monday
MyFoxLA

Gold Line Payoff
Los Angeles Downtown News

The Guide To Gold Line Foodiness (Plus Maps!)
LAist

Jobs Lost In Transportation: Economic Stimulus Can’t Prevent Widespread Job Loss In Down Economy
Denver Daily News

L.A. County Sheriff’s Deputies Arrest 73-Year-Old Tagging Suspect
Los Angeles Times

Los Angeles Gold Line Opens: “Planners” Blamed
Human Transit

Mayor V. Bows To The Westside As He Dedicates Eastside Rail
L.A. Weekly

Metrolink Postpones Decision About Rate Hike
Daily News

MTS Considers Cutting Sunday Bus Service
10 News San Diego

Netherlands To Tax Drivers By The Kilometer
Wired

New Technology Allows Enforcement Of Anti-Texting Legislation
WebWire

Opinion: The Eastside’s New Gold Line
Los Angeles Times

Over 40% Of Transportation Construction Firms Anticipate Additional Lay-Offs Of Non-Seasonal Employees In 2010
Transportation Construction Coalition

Riding L.A.’s Newest Rail Line
Fast Company

Slow And Steady Progress On Port Air Quality
Long Beach Post

A Street-Level View Of The Gold Line Eastside Extension
LA StreetsBlog

WeHo Subway To The Sea: All Aboard!…In 2047!
WeHo News

Which Is The Best Way West For L.A.’s Subway?: Wilshire Or West Hollywood? – As A Subway Extension Draws Closer To Reality, The Debate Over The Route Intensifies
Los Angeles Times

Year Later, Angels Flight Still Not Open (But Meeting Scheduled)
LA Curbed