Transportation headlines, Tuesday, May 8

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 Headlines blog, which you can also access via email subscription or RSS feed.

Do Joss Whedon’s kids go to Beverly Hills High School? (L.A. Times)

The video made by the PTA in Beverly Hills is soaking in media attention thanks to shots of fireballs consuming the school and warnings from experts that Westside Subway Extension trains would run right through the actual school (to clarify: Metro is considering running trains under the school, not through it). This opinion piece by Times writer Dan Turner compares the video to the Whedon-directed “The Avengers” — and not so favorably — and concludes with this line: “all I can say is that somewhere along the line, logic, perspective, rationality and common sense loaded up the truck and moved out of Beverly Hills.”

It’s not very surprising that the media is in love with the video. Beverly Hills is a city known the world over and it’s not everyday that concerned parents allege the local transit agency is on the verge of blowing up their school.

Over at NBC, reporter Ted Chen did a straight up news piece on the video and interviews some members of the PTA. And, of course, the Beverly Hills Patch has been all over the video — publishing a story last week when the video snared its 3,000th view on YouTube and another story yesterday to report that the L.A. Times used the adjective “dramatic” to describe the video in its news story on the video. The Times’ news story, btw, required the efforts of two reporters. In the meantime, the Times also offers this piece by columnist Patt Morrison, who revisits Beverly Hills’ opposition to the Beverly Hills Freeway that was proposed in the 1950s.

Metrolink CEO John Fenton resigns to take job in freight industry (L.A. Times)

Although he’s only been on the job for 25 months, Fenton was credited with improving the safety culture at — in particular pushing for anti-collision technology to be installed on trains — and boosting ridership and staff morale. Fenton said family issues led to him accepting the chief executive job at Patriot Rail Corp., based in Boca Raton, Fla. Here’s a long interview The Source did with Fenton last year.

City of L.A. widens Expo bike lane at Exposition/Grammercy crossing (LADOT Bike Blog)

The road crosses the tracks at a diagonal angle. To address community concerns, the city of L.A. widened the bike lane to give cyclists a better chance to cross the tracks at a right angle (to prevent tires from catching in the tracks’ wheel well) and narrowed the vehicle lane by two feet.

What about converting the Orange Line to rail? (Ride the Pink Line blog)

Blogger and transit advocate Dan Wentzel takes a smart look at the many issues involved with swapping rail for the current busway. Among them: a state law (known as the Robbins bill) that prohibits any rail along the corridor that is not a subway. Dan also makes a good point that elected officials in the neighboring San Gabriel Valley have effectively fought hard for new rail lines — i.e. the Gold Line Foothill Extension — while things have been relatively quiet in the San Fernando Valley.

6 replies

  1. Some of the comments in that article about the orange line conversion to LRT state that there would not be much of a speed advantage. This is false. Any train that runs in a dedicated ROW is REQUIRED by CPUC to have railroad crossing gate preemption. This could probably shave a third of the time it takes from end to end if not more. Lower speed and sitting at lights vs higher speed and no lights, hmmm…

    If this is converted to light rail I’m sure there would be a large boost in ridership and I would certainly use the line more. Many people in the valley including people I know choose to drive to the NoHo red line station because its usually much faster than taking the orange line bus even during high traffic periods. This can change with LRT if not only because its a more attractive option to people. A bus is a bus.

  2. The article about the possible Orange Line to light rail conversion covers several different power sources: overhead wire (which is dismissed for some reason, there are street level overheads all around the world, adding posts for the system could be done with minimal disruption at the same time as the laying of track), 3rd rail systems, diesel powered rail, and battery powered (charged at the end of each run). There are several other options (once one frees their mind): hybrid (natural gas or diesel over electric, with batteries, the batteries handle the starts and stops and the IC engine provides the cruising power), natural gas MU’s, San Francisco’s historic option – cable power, over head wire with battery back up (the batteries would provide the power when crossing the larger streets), or battery powered with ‘at station’ top-off system.

    Having a diesel or natural gas over electric system would allow for an electric pick-up as well. If the line were to be run into Burbank-Glendale-Pasadena, it could be a street car running down Colorado (which is home to the 780, among other lines) powered like the Muni electric busses in SF. We have busses that ‘kneel’ to load wheelchairs, the train cars could ‘stand’ at the Lake Gold Line station (as their last stop) or have a lower level platform to the west or east of the existing platform.

  3. ^ Would still like to see high-level boarding for whatever form of rail gets developed on/above/under this ROW. From my experience, only high-level platforms allow easy, convenient, roll-on, roll-off boarding for those in wheelchairs as well as strollers. Plus, high-level platforms discourage running across the ROW to the opposite platform, something that I’ve seen done at Orange Line stations more than once.

  4. Also, glad to see that Metro listened to those of us who had expressed concern regarding the Expo Line bike crossing at Grammercy. One day way in the future, grade separation would be awesome, but for now, this is a decent improvement! 🙂

  5. There’s nothing to prevent crossing gates and a bus-first policy for the Orange Line as it currently runs … nothing except community (i.e., driver) opposition and lack of political will. Those are the reasons we got a dedicated busway in the first place, instead of rail. It’s a little late to be complaining at this point.