Five things I’m thinking about transit, Nov. 16 edition

1. DODGER STADIUM: I thought the most interesting news article I read this past week was by Jon Regardie in the Downtown News on why he thinks that AEG — owner of Staples Center and L.A. Live — should buy the Dodgers and move them into a downtown stadium that could take the place of the football stadium AEG wants to build.

AEG declined comment and on Tuesday released renderings of the latest drawings of the football stadium. Regardie wrote “I admit I know nothing about any such deal” and I have little doubt that AEG has a laser-like focus on a football stadium at this time.

That said, as a reformed and cured journalist, I don’t think such columns get written without some buzz in the downtown community about this. At the least, associating AEG with a baseball stadium instead of a football stadium is a nice way to remind the NFL that they shouldn’t just assume that a football stadium will materialize without some supportive gestures by the league.

Of course, I’m glad to read of any proposal to move the Dodgers into the real downtown Los Angeles from their current home in the middle of an ugly parking lot (see last week’s post). As for the readers who left comments last week, I strongly disagree that Dodger baseball and Dodger Stadium are one in the same. The game would survive just fine in a smartly-designed downtown stadium that is easily accessed by transit and is much more a part of the city. The original Yankee Stadium is gone, the Yankees still play baseball.

One commenter also noted that it’s kind of ludicrous that the city is contemplating building a giant football stadium when the Rose Bowl and Coliseum already exist. Agreed but I’m not sure how to get around that — Pasadena voters have said they don’t want the NFL messing up traffic in their leafy neighborhoods and the NFL doesn’t want any part of the Coliseum, which would have to be shared with USC.

Amtrak's Coast Starlight to Oakland and beyond: not the fastest train in the world. Photo by Tom Clifton, via Flickr.

2. AMTRAK: I wish we had Third World quality Amtrak service in some parts of the state.

On short notice, I had the chance to visit a friend in San Francisco last Friday and Saturday. Buying a plane ticket was pricey — over $350 — and the Amtrak takes a whopping 11 hours, 12 minutes to travel between L.A. and Oakland, when the train is running on time.

That’s beyond ridiculous, so I ended up making the 5.5-hour drive. If we had an Amtrak train that ran to the Bay Area in a mere six hours, I would have gladly taken it and I expect many others would, too.

And that’s the question I have that no one has yet answered: how much for a 2.5-hour bullet train versus how much for a decent Amtrak train? I’m all ears!

3. ABOUT THOSE COST ESTIMATES: Speaking of, I think it’s interesting that the latest high-speed rail business plan determined the cost of building the bullet train between Anaheim and San Francisco was $98.5 billion and not, say, $99.5 billion, which the media would surely round up to $100 billion, which would sound a lot worse than, say, $98.5 billion. Close call, financial projection people!

Oh, btw, the latest out of Congress has funding for high-speed rail being eliminated in the 2012 fiscal year budget, although the U.S. Department of Transportation would get a $515-million bump for transit process across the 50 states.

4. VAN NUYS RAPIDWAY: I agree with many Source readers who believe the studies for the Van Nuys Rapidway project need to consider future linkages with the still-undefined Sepulveda Pass project.

Let’s face it: the Orange Line connection to the Red Line subway isn’t perfect — patrons have to cross Lankershim Boulevard to transfer — and the Expo Line and Eastside Gold Line were planned years ago without much thought on how to connect, respectively, with the future Crenshaw Line and Regional Connector.

So this one falls under the category of “let’s learn from history, people.”

5. MORE BIKE CARS, POR FAVOR!: I love Metrolink’s new bike cars that have devoted considerable space to bikes inside. Metro is in the process of removing some seats to make room for more bikes, but it’s not on this scale.

And I’d like to see Metro mimic the idea, even if it’s just one or two light rail cars. Obviously they couldn’t be on every train on every line. But it would be easy to schedule them regularly and then revise the timetables to show the trains that have them — so cyclists can plan their commutes accordingly.

BONUS THOUGHT, PART ONE: To repeat a point from this morning’s headlines, and one first made by Damien Newton at L.A. Streetsblog, if free parking is going to be provided at community meetings about transit projects, it would probably be nice — and a lot less ironic — to provide some sort of free transit service, too. Even if it’s a few quarters.

BONUS THOUGHT, PART TWO: On my return drive from San Francisco, I took the 101 south to Gilroy and the 152 east over Pacheco Pass to the 5. The Pacheco Pass country was quite lovely — big, rolling hills studded with oak trees. Here’s a view of San Luis Reservoir, one of the larger fake lakes storing water as part of the California Aqueduct: