Transportation headlines, Wednesday, August 22

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.

 

A tilt-shift view of Dodger Stadium and its mega-parking lots. Photo by Millerm217, via Flickr creative commons.

Gridlock has Dodger Stadium in a headlock (L.A. Times)

From his perch in the pressbox on Tuesday night, Times stylist/columnist Bill Plaschke rediscovers that traffic headed to big Dodger games is a bear. He writes that it’s unacceptable and proposes a solution: reducing the capacity at the stadium. The fewer the seats, the fewer the cars, so his argument goes.

A Dodger spokesman says the team is working with local transportation officials, including Metro, to improve the traffic situation. Not mentioned is that that Metro runs the Dodger Stadium Express only because state anti-air pollution money was secured by Metro to run the free bus service between the stadium and Union Station. The team doesn’t pay for it — they only help promote it.

Not discussed in the column is whether the stadium should remain in its current location. I’m not a Dodgers fan — sorry, grew up in Cincinnati in the 1970s — and I’ll once again repeat my strong opinion on this topic. The stadium is a relic of 1950s-era planning in which planning was done for cars as much as it was done for people. Yes, some other stadiums in recent years have reduced the number of seats to decrease unused inventory and increase demand. But the city and the Dodgers in the 21st century would likely be better served with a ballpark that is part of downtown proper’s many businesses and nearer the region’s growing and popular transit network.

Irvine Flyaway to cease operations (Los Angeles World Airports)

Due to bankruptcy of the bus company and very low ridership — an average of just 48 people a day during the 2011-12 fiscal year — the bus service between the Irvine Transit Center and LAX will likely stop running in mid-September. FlyAway service from Van Nuys, Union Station and Westwood IS NOT impacted by the decision.

Business leaders propose CEQA reform (California High-Speed Rail blog)

A Silicon Valley business group yesterday offered a list of reforms to the California Environmental Quality Act, the law that dictates how studies must be done of projects that could impact the environment. The group says that law is often abused with lawsuits over all sorts of things and, furthermore, many projects that comply with existing environmental regulations and that would be good for the environment — transit, clean energy, infill development — are often stopped by CEQA lawsuits. Excerpt:

3. Focus CEQA Litigation on Compliance with Environmental and Planning Laws

* CEQA lawsuits should focus on compliance with CEQA’s procedural and substantive requirements, including adequate notice, adequate disclosure, adequate mitigation of environmental effects not regulated by other environmental or planning law, adequate consideration of alternatives to avoid unmitigated significant adverse impacts.
* CEQA lawsuits should not be used to challenge adopted environmental standards, or to endlessly re-challenge approved plans by challenging projects that comply with plans.
* Environmental and other public advocacy efforts to enact environmental protection laws should not be affected by any CEQA reform, and refocusing CEQA on how compliance with standards and plans will reduce impacts can also inform advocacy efforts to revisit standards or plans.
* Finally, “real” environmental lawsuits – seeking to enforce true environmental objectives – can still be pursued against agencies that fail to make regulatory or permitting decisions in compliance with standards and plans. However, the current system of broad brush CEQA lawsuits that can be filed by any party for any purpose to challenge any or all environmental attributes of projects that comply with standards and plans are an outdated artifact of the “anything goes” environment of 1970, which now hinders both environmental improvement and economic recovery.

17 replies

  1. You just won’t give up on destroying one of the most beautiful and hallowed grounds in Major League Baseball and Southern California will you Steve? But, I guess now it’s easier for me to understand why you don’t care about the stadium (you’re a Reds fan and only care about transit not preserving city culture, heritage and glory).

    • Hi Average Joe;

      I don’t feel the way that I do about Dodger Stadium because I grew up a Reds fan. I feel the way that I do because I like pro baseball but I don’t enjoy going to a stadium surrounded by acres of parking lots and getting stuck in traffic before and after games. While I certainly respect the baseball history that has occurred there in the past half-century, I don’t think it’s any more hallowed ground than stadiums in other cities, some of which have (unfortunately) met the wrecking ball.

      I actually like the ballpark itself here. The sightlines are nice, the sunsets can be grand. But I don’t feel like it’s the last word in baseball stadiums partly because I’ve been to other ballparks that are just as nice. In particular, I AT&T park in San Francisco, which is easy to reach from downtown S.F. via sidewalk, light rail, bus, bicycle or ferry. Of the newer ballparks that I have visited for a game, I also really like Camden Yards in Baltimore which manages to feel new while retaining old ballpark character. I also really like Wrigley Field (although there are some terrible views from some seats) because of its small size and the fact that it sits amid a real Chicago neighborhood and, of course, right next to an El station that is beyond the right field wall.

      I’m intrigued by the ballparks in San Diego, Seattle and Denver — all were built in the past 20 years and, at least on TV, look to be very nice. And all are near transit and more part of the fabric of the city that they serve.

      It is a shame that we’ve lost some of our older, famous ballparks in recent years; in particular Tiger Stadium and the old Comiskey Park. But I also think that times change and we often have to change with them. I am confident that if a decision is ever made to move Dodger Stadium, Los Angeles could rise to the occasion and plan and build a ballpark every bit as beautiful as the one that exists while better serving the city as a whole.

      Steve Hymon
      Editor, The Source

  2. Metro should consider creating a dedicated lane of traffic for the Dodger Express. Last time I went to a Dodger game I took public transit and was very unimpressed. It just doesn’t make sense that a bus full of people should wade through the sea of cars trying to get through the parking gates.

    In order to encourage more public use of the Dodger Express, everything should be done to make sure it holds up to the “Express” part of its name.

  3. I’ve actually gotten to Angel Stadium in Anaheim on the Angels Express Metrolink train faster than I’ve gotten to Dodger Stadium on that express before. Pretty ridiculous when you consider that Angel Stadium is ten times farther away. I must say however, this is not necessarily a regular occurrence. Half of the times I’ve taken the Dodger bus it’s been smooth and great.

    Wrote a bit about my take on transit improvements to the stadium near the end of a post, here:
    http://steven-white.com/2012/07/10/a-trip-up-the-coast-dodger-stadium-could-learn-a-thing-or-two/

  4. Why not create a Light Rail that maybe connects the Chinatown Station to Dodger Stadium and beyond like the LA Zoo. If that alternative is too expensive maybe a BRT/Dedicated Lane for the Dodger Stadium Express.

    • Hi David;

      I know there was a study done in the early 1990s about ways to better connect Dodger Stadium to downtown — if memory serves, among the options reviewed were a tram, series of escalators and maybe rail. I think the main problem with a light rail line is that there are many other proposed bus and train routes in Metro’s long-range plan that would likely better serve the commuting public trying to travel between home, work and other common destinations. The Dodgers play 80-something home games a year and so it’s hard to justify spending hundreds of millions of dollars on a rail line that would only be useful (on average) one out of every four-five days and only for certain parts of that day.

      So it’s tricky. While the location for Dodger Stadium may be scenic, it really is out of the way in terms of building transit.

      Steve Hymon
      Editor, The Source

  5. I still like the gondola idea to connect the Stadium to Chinatown and its light rail station. It is actually quite close, but very difficult to walk due to the change in elevation, the lack of a direct street between the two and of course the freeway in the middle. I love Dodger Stadium but also understand Steve’s point. Now that we have a true urban arena in Staples Center, Dodger Stadium’s shortcomings really show up.

    However, it is insanely complicated to build a new baseball stadium and they are not that many sites where it could possibly work. We are talking at least a decade away since no prelim work has been done at this point.

  6. I like the Dodger Shuttle. It made my first trip to the Stadium easy.

    Replacing Dodger Stadium isn’t likely. It’s not falling apart the way the Coliseum is. It’s not well designed (those ridiculous steps!) but it’s solid construction.

  7. I like the escalator idea… building an escalator from near the north end of the pedestrian bridge over the 110 up to the stadium parking lot would make the walk from Chinatown Gold Line station a manageable 3/4 mile walk (it’s over a mile if you walk via the southeast entrance, and there’s no sidewalk there anyway), AND the escalator takes care of the issue of hill climbing.

  8. The Dodgers could always move back to the Coliseum — that’s right on the Expo Line! 🙂
    But seriously, Angel Stadium, Wrigley Field, Yankee Stadium, Staples Center, and other sports venues are loacted right by rail lines. Although I don’t like the Farmers Field plan because I think that it amounts to corporate welfare, the proposed location is smart.

  9. I can get to Dodger’s Stadium faster on a scooter. While the rest of the people are stuck in their cars in gridlock traffic, I just scoot by between the cars.

  10. Steve,
    There used to be a former rail line that left downtown via Sunset, the Pasadena and Pacific which later became a P&E line. I am really surprised that Metro has never considered reviving this line as it could serve not only Dodger Stadium but a lot of the shops and surrounding residential areas on Sunset. You earlier stated that you didn’t think it was worth it for Metro to consider transit project for Dodger stadium because it would only be running every 4 or 5 days on average over a year, but I do believe the extra visibility it would bring to Metro with ~41,000 average daily home attendance this year is nothing to disregard when you realize that’s over 3,000,000 for the entire year.

    On a sidenote you should be glad to hear that Cincinnati is finally bringing mass transit rail back in the form of a streetcar and construction should be starting very soon! Born in L.A., lived all over California for 33 years and now have spent the past 5 close to your old stomping grounds in Dayton. I’ll make up for you bringing your love of the Red’s to L.A. by bringing my love of the Dodgers to Ohio 🙂

  11. I often hear “tram” suggested for the park. Does anybody know if the old study is available on-line?

    I remember somebody saying (maybe here) that it was dismissed due to lack of capacity. The options for aerial trams may have increased since the 90’s. It’s hard to believe it wouldn’t be a fast win– they come as kits and can be deployed quickly and cheaply. And if they charged half the price of parking, it would raise a nice amount of operating cash.

    One issue might be security. You can’t call the cops to break up a fight on a tram that’s hanging a hundred feet over the 110. But I’ve always suspected that a bigger issue might be lack of support from all parties.

  12. OK, I checked out some numbers.

    An Aerial tram between the Cornfield Park and the Dodger Stadium parking lot would be about 2000-3000 feet horizontal distance, depending where the ends were set (the closer to the Gold Line Station, the wider the distance). The Portland tram runs 3300 feet with a 500 foot climb. So the scale is similar.

    The Stadium holds 56,000 people. The Portland tram caries 78 people on a 3-minute ride, giving a theoretical capacity of about 1500 people per hour, or 2-3% of the ballpark per hour.

    So if you wanted something to scale to 10% of the attendees, you’d need a bigger or faster system, or else build multiple lines with different connection points.

  13. Here in Melbourne Australia we got rid of our stadium surrounded by a huge carpark , and built a new 50,000 stadium next to a major downtown train station, with parking for only 2000 cars. The spectator experience is much better, many coming by train or using downtown carparking buildings. and crowd numbers have been good. The crowds are cleared within about 20 minutes of the game finishing. Another Australian city (Adelaide) with a suburban stadium surrounded by a huge carpark has experienced rapidly diminishing spectator numbers and is now following Melbourne’s lead and building a new downtown stadium.

    I believe there is a proposal for a new LA stadium near the Staples Centre with parking for 20,000 cars. How long will it take to clear this carpark after a game ? A freeway lane only has a capacity for 2,000 cars per hour. I suspect a carpark of only 2000 cars is all the local roads could support post-game without experiencing gridlock.