Life of pie

Pumpkin pie at Urth Caffe; photo by Weinong Wang via Flickr

Trying to save time this holiday season? Here are a couple of suggestions for great pumpkin pie the easy way … via Metro.

Sweet Lady Jane is a great place for pumpkin pie, coconut cake, whatever: 8360 Melrose Ave.; West Hollywood; (323) 653-7145. (Call ahead to check on pie availability.) They even make a good red velvet cake … not easy to do. To get there hop on Metro Local 10 down Melrose. Sweet Lady Jane is just east of La Cienega, on the south side of the street.

What about the delicious pumpkin pie at Urth Caffé? There are several around town but the Urth Caffe downtown is about a 15-minute walk from the Gold Line Little Tokyo/Arts District Station. Urth is at 451 S. Hewitt St. (213) 797-4534, Hewitt and 5th Street and it’s tres chic with lots a cool clientele to enjoy or be depressed by, depending upon what you’re wearing that day. But it really does have good pie.

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The art of transit

photo by Alan Weeks, via Metro Transportation Library and Archive’s Flickr page

Great shot of the old Glendale Line streetcar crossing the Los Angeles River in April, 1952. As many locals know, the bridge abutments are still there but the span is gone. The photo was taken from the Hyperion Avenue Bridge, looking south. Here’s a contemporary view, from Google Maps:

To submit a photo for the Art of Transit, post it to Metro’s Flickr group, email it to or Tweet it to @metrolosangeles with an #artoftransit hashtag. Many of the photos we’ve featured can be seen in these galleries on Flickr.

Transportation headlines, Friday, Nov. 18

Here is a look at some of the transportation headlines gathered by us and the Metro Library. The full list of headlines is posted on the library’s blog.


A 1930s-era painting of the 6th Street Viaduct by the artist Emil Kosa, Jr. Credit: George Stern Fine Arts gallery.

After five years of study, 6th Street viaduct’s fate goes to Los Angeles City Council (Blog Downtown)

The decision is in the City Council’s hands this morning: Vote to demolish and replace the historic 1933 6th Street viaduct over the Los Angeles River, or not. The Council’s hand appears to be forced by the fact that the bridge has “concrete cancer,” which “causes the concrete to crumble from the inside, steadily reducing the chances that the structure would survive a major earthquake,” writes Eric Richardson. Some outstanding concerns about the bridge’s replacement include if a new bridge should pay homage to the original bridge and how construction would impact adjacent businesses.

Thinking outside the bus (New York Times)

Writer Lisa Margonelli provides a great overview of communities that are tackling the issue of mobility in some unconventional ways. I’m particularly intrigued by ITNAmerica (Independent Transportation Network), a non-profit that connects people, especially the elderly, who need rides around town with those who have rides to give. But instead of operating on cash or good will, those who provide rides earn transferable credits to take a ride. Founder Katherine Freund puts it this way: “So I could give elders rides in California and transfer the credits I’ve ‘banked’ to my mother in New England.” If I have one critique of the story, it’s that Margonelli seems unnecessarily dismissive of the yeoman’s work of municipal transit agencies in favor of a more “organic” conception of mobility.

Through the looking glass — L.A.-area communities suddenly become bike friendlier (Biking in L.A.)

The opening of Santa Monica’s bike center has stalwart bike writer and advocate Ted Rogers reflecting on the success of several So. Cal. communities in becoming more bike friendly. SaMo and Long Beach are leading the way, but Burbank, Glendale, South Pasadena and West Hollywood are making some noise as well. Challenges remain, Rogers says, but I’d agree that bicycling improvements seem to be happening remarkably fast, given how slowly regions typically change. This article from 2005 about biking in Los Angeles — I just stumbled upon it — seems practically quaint in hindsight.

Hybrids safer for drivers, less so for pedestrians, study finds (L.A. Times)

That ultra-quiet hybrid cars would be more dangerous to pedestrians makes immediate sense. But I didn’t expect that hybrids would necessarily be safer for drivers than comparable non-hybrids. It turns out, however, that hybrids tend to be heavier than similar models because of their extra batteries, so they fair better in collisions — at the expense of everyone else I’d imagine. Physics!

Sunset Boulevard bridge closure planned again tonight

Work began last night and is expected to continue tonight. Details:

The I-405 Sepulveda Pass Improvements Project contractor will implement a full closure of the Sunset Boulevard Bridge between Barrington Avenue and Veteran Avenue starting Thursday, November 17, 2011 for two consecutive nights to facilitate utility work on Sunset Boulevard and Church Lane.

What:  Full Sunset Boulevard closure for utility work

When:    Work is anticipated to start on Thursday, November 17, 2011 for two consecutive nights.  Work hours are from 10pm to 6am, weather permitting.

Where:  Sunset Boulevard between Barrington Avenue and Veteran Avenue

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Bus shuttles to replace Blue Line service in downtown Los Angeles on Sunday, Nov. 20

The reason: more work on the junction of the Blue Line and future Expo Line. Here’s the news release:

Due to continued construction work for the new Expo Line in the downtown Los Angeles area, service on the Metro Blue line will be replaced with bus shuttles on Sunday, Nov. 20.

Expo construction crews will continue their work integrating the Expo Line rail system into the existing Metro Blue Line system that will necessitate the closure of the downtown Los Angeles segment of the Metro Blue Line and the use of buses to transport Metro Blue Line passengers between the Washington Station and 7th/Metro Center Station.

No Metro Blue Lines trains will operate between the 7th Street/Metro Center Station and the Washington Station on Sunday, Nov. 20. Metro Blue Line trains will operate on normal schedules from the Washington Station to Long Beach. Patrons are advised to allow up to 40 additional minutes to complete their trip. Normal Metro Blue Line service will resume with the start of morning service on Monday, Nov. 21.

Stations impacted due to the partial Blue Line closure include 7th Street Metro Center, Pico, Grand and San Pedro. For specific route and schedule information visit

Tomorrow big day for Santa Monica, cyclists with opening of Santa Monica Bike Center

Tomorrow is a big day for the City of Santa Monica and Metro.  The two have partnered up to open the $2 million full-service “Santa Monica Bike Center,” the largest secure bicycle parking facility of its kind in the U.S.

The bike center’s two combined locations in the center of downtown Santa Monica feature 5,300 square-feet of space and nearly 360 secure bicycle parking spaces.

It’s a full-service facility that also provides bicycle rentals, showers, lockers, self-service repairs, vending and restrooms.  The Metro-funded project is expected to increase bike/transit connections for work and play to and from Santa Monica, a popular beachfront destination and a bike-riding hot-spot of Southern California.

A grand opening event is scheduled for tomorrow morning. It will be followed by an all-weekend open house featuring free bicycle parking, free bicycle rides and tours of the facility.

Get out there and check it out. In the meantime, here’s a couple exterior shots of the two bike center locations.

2nd/Colorado bike center location.

4th/Broadway bike center location.



What's happening at other transit agencies?

Montreal subway trains run on rubber tires and are great for checking out your hair. Photo by Carter Rubin/Metro.

This weekly post features news from other transit agencies and planners from around the world. Did we miss a good story? Let us know in the comments.

$16.8-billion plan aims at big transit boost for Montreal

The Montreal Gazette reports that the region’s Agence Métropolitaine de Transport — don’t you just love when French looks exactly like English backwards? — unveiled an ambitious plan to boost transit ridership in Canada’s second largest metro area. The target: Increase the percentage of trips on transit from 25 to 30 by 2020. The means: Expand and improve transit service, including rail extensions, BRT and commuter rail electrification. The catch: The $16.8 billion program doesn’t have all the funding lined up yet, though the plan proposes increasing gas taxes and road tolls, as well as capturing some of the value that transit will add to adjacent properties. AMT has not yet considered, however, borrowing against future tooth fairy revenues from teeth lost to playing ice hockey.

San Diego forum envisions a future downtown, advocates urge transit over cars

San Diego Union Tribune writer Bob Hawkins checked in on a forum hosted by the San Diego Taxpayers Association last week and relays some interesting visions for the city’s downtown from two transit advocates. Kris Michell, head of the Downtown San Diego Partnership, foresees a downtown that is eventually “all transit” — especially as a growing urban population makes more cars and more parking unfeasible. Hawkins elaborates:

What Michell envisions is a fleet of rapid transit buses whisking suburban residents to the outskirts of the city where they would board a free “downtown circulator” that would bring them into the business center. Michell sees the circulator — be it vans, a trolley on wheels, shuttles, a people mover — as the centerpiece of a traffic-sane downtown.

Head of mobility advocacy group Move San Diego, Elyse Lowe adds that the city needs to move beyond having a monthly downtown parking pass that’s cheaper than a monthly transit pass. Agreed, Elyse!

How Manhattan sped up its buses without rapid transit

Eric Jaffe of Atlantic Cities reviews a brand new enhanced bus service that will carry New Yorkers crosstown along 34th Street. The busy corridor includes such destinations as the Empire State Building, Penn Station and Madison Square Garden; buses in mixed vehicle traffic had previously been chugging along at a meager average of 5 mph. The new bus-rapid transit line will boost trip speeds through the use of bus-only lanes and pre-boarding fare payment, allowing riders to board at any of the bus’s doors, which cuts back on time the bus is stopped. Introducing signal priority is planned for next year. The bus lanes won’t, however, be physically separated from cars with a barrier, leading some transit planners to lament that it won’t be the “subway-on-wheels” some had hoped for.

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House Republicans unveil their version of transportation spending bill and call for opening ANWR to drilling

As I mentioned in the headlines earlier, House Republicans today announced their version of a multi-year transportation funding bill — and it’s very different from the two-year bill being discussed in the Senate. Here’s the news from Metro’s government relations staff:

Today, House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) and House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee Chairman John Mica (R-FL) unveiled a 5-year Transportation Reauthorization plan. During the announcement and the introduction of the “American Energy and Infrastructure Jobs Act” (H.R. 7), House Speaker Boehner and Chairman Mica did not specifically address the funding levels in the bill. The leaders did explain, however, that additional funding for the measure would come from domestic energy production, including new offshore drilling for oil and natural gas, and established clear rules on extracting oil from shale rock and opening up parts of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) to drilling. House Speaker Boehner expressed his hope to pass H.R. 7 by the end of calendar year 2011. Please click here to view the press release issued by the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee on the “American Energy and Infrastructure Jobs Act.”

The Arctic National Wildlife Refuge is about 19 million acres in size. There is about 1.5 million acres of area along the coastal plain on which oil drilling could happen — but only with Congressional approval.

President Obama has said that he’s against drilling in the refuge but has pushed to expand domestic drilling, including in Alaska; here’s a fuzzily worded presidential proclamation celebrating the park’s 50th anniversary that seems to be against drilling. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, which manages the refuge, earlier this year took the first steps toward increasing protection of the coastal plain.

Obviously, this version of the bill puts Republicans and Democrats on yet another collision course as the 2012 elections approach. The coastal plain of the refuge — which is home to the Porcupine Caribou Herd — and is sacred ground to many conservation groups. Stay tuned.

The following video about the refuge is from the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service.

A little more info on the Sepulveda Pass Corridor project

The aerial view of the Sepulveda Pass corridor from Google Maps.

The part of the Metro website devoted to projects was recently updated with a little more information about a project that I know is near and dear the hearts of many Source readers: The Sepulveda Pass Corridor, which proposes to improve transit between the Westside and the San Fernando Valley via the Sepulveda Pass Corridor.

From the project home page:

The Sepulveda Pass Corridor is a vital project for the Sepulveda Pass that connects the San Fernando Valley with West Los Angeles. Potential project alternatives could include light rail, bus rapid transit service on the I-405 carpool lanes with bus-only on and off ramps, peak-hour bus rapid transit-only shoulder lanes, or a transit/toll facility. All elevations (aerial, tunnel, etc.) and parallel routes, such as Sepulveda and Van Nuys Boulevards, will be explored.

Metro Planning, using its on-call technical consultant benches (planning, modeling, environmental, civil engineering, etc), will conduct an in-house technical feasibility study of various alternatives for the Sepulveda Pass Corridor, as a necessary condition to move forward with any project in the corridor. Obviously, a project embracing the initial concept of a multimodal transit and express toll road will be one of the concepts examined by staff. It is clear to all that under current financial conditions, no major project in the corridor can be built without consideration of a public-private partnership. Once a set of potential alternatives is identified, the Metro Board may then decide to undertake an analysis of the economics and feasibility of a P3 approach. This consideration by the Metro Board is likely to take place in mid-2012. Stay tuned.

A few other points worth considering after the jump…

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Transportation headlines, Thursday, Nov. 17

Here is a look at some of the transportation headlines gathered by us and the Metro Library. The full list of headlines is posted on the library’s blog.

Boehner to unveil House transportation spending bill today (Transportation Nation)

The Senate is working on its version of the bill, which includes parts of the America Fast Forward initiative sought by Metro to accelerate transit and road projects. We’ll see what the House has cooked up – I’ll try to post something later today after Metro’s government relations staff has looked at what’s being proposed.

Critic’s notebook: Farmer’s Field falls short (L.A. Times)

Architecture critic Christopher Hawthorne has some issues with the new designs for the football stadium that AEG wants to build next to Staples Center. But he also raises this very good point on the positive side:

In terms of its urbanism, AEG’s downtown stadium proposal has always had an oddly innovative streak. Who would have thought that the first truly urban NFL stadium, the first to outwardly reject the primacy of car culture and acres of space for pregame tailgating, would be proposed in Southern California?

Tracking the sharrow on city streets (Grist)

Very good post by Portland bike activist Elly Blue on the effectiveness of sharrows — the markings that cities around the U.S. are putting on streets to encourage cyclists and motorists to safely interact in places where there are no bike lanes. Proponents see them as a good first step toward more bike infrastructure. Criticisms fall along the lines that they don’t seem to slow car traffic much and are a better wayfinding tool than safety tool. I liked this paragraph:

Sharrows are popular because they are politically easy — you can almost hear city officials sigh with relief when sharrows are mentioned. On the surface, they seem like a way to please the increasingly vocal bike lobby without ruffling feathers by putting in a bike lane at the expense of car parking or traffic lanes, which are often perceived as being for cars only. And they’re cheap: Sharrows cost only $229 each to install, including labor and materials, while a full-blown bike lane can cost between $5,000 and $60,000 per mile.

Council adds $650,000 to subway fight (Beverly Hills Patch)

The City Council decided to put the money aside to hire consultants and pay for other expenses to prevent Metro from tunneling under part of the Beverly Hills High School campus as part of the Westside Subway Extension project. The money is in addition to the $350,000 the Council had earlier decided to spend on the issue.