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.
OCTA Board rejects toll lanes for I-405 (Los Alamitos-Seal Beach Patch)
The Board voted 12 to 4 in rejecting a proposal supported by OCTA staff to convert the existing carpool lanes to toll lanes between the 73 and 605 freeways. Among the issues raised were the cost of tolls and the potential for freeway traffic to spill onto local streets. The Board instead voted to add one general traffic lane in both directions to the 405 between the 73 and 605 at a cost of $1.3 billion. Sounds like OCTA staff do not believe that’s sufficient for growing traffic in the region. On a side note, I think the Patch’s story is much more clear than the Register’s story.
L.A.’s Orange Line shows the way for Montgomery County’s BRT (Greater Greater Washington)
Blogger Dan Reed rode the Orange Line during his visit to L.A. for last week’s Rail-Volution conference. And he liked what he saw:
Why does the Orange Line work? It goes where people want to go, it’s frequent, and it connects to the subway, major bus routes, and commuter rail. But more importantly, it gives riders a fast, pleasant experience that rivals driving in a place known for its car culture….
What makes the Orange Line really effective, however, is that buses have their own special lanes for the entire 18-mile route, the result of using a former rail line and a wide boulevard. There are also special sensors that turn stoplights green when buses approach so they don’t have to stop. This allows buses to reach speeds of up to 55 miles an hour, cutting commutes across the Valley nearly in half and making it as fast, if not faster, than driving. The busway is lushly landscaped, while a popular bike and foot path runs alongside it. The result is a commute that’s not only convenient, but very pleasant.
Reed believes the Orange Line could serve as a model for a BRT proposal in suburban Washington D.C. It’s always interesting to hear the perspective of an outsider – and I know from our comments section, some of you disagree with the above.
Curbed LA reports that a group of Cheviot Hills homeowners who have sued over the Expo Line Phase 2 light rail extension to Santa Monica have asked the California Supreme Court to halt construction on the $1.5 billion project, which could delay the train by at least a year, cost taxpayers $90 million and put thousands out of work. Stay tuned to find out if they succeed. In the meantime, here’s more info on Expo and here’s the legal brief filed by the Expo Line Construction Authority in the lawsuit.
A study that appeared Monday in the journal PNAS says diesel fuel emissions are more polluting than previously thought. The study focuses on a specific form of pollutant known as secondary organic aerosol, or SOA. The pollutant is a major element of smog, it can contribute to heart and respiratory problems and there’s lots more of it in diesel emissions than in gas … further support for Metro’s January, 2011 move to a 100 percent clean-fueled bus fleet. Metro retired its last diesel bus at that time.
Commuters’ privacy is being clipped (San Francisco Chronicle)
The Chronicle’s editorial page says that Clipper Cards — the Bay Area’s version of TAP cards — are collecting detailed information on where individual commuters are traveling. As a result, the editorial board wants the cards to offer some type of disclosure policy to inform customers that data is being collected about them. I agree with the reader who emailed me the link and wrote: “The editorial’s slightly alarmist; while the Clipper Service Bureau may have your life history at their fingertips, someone who scans a Clipper Card won’t. There’s relatively little storage space on the chip — enough for about three weeks of recent trips on average.”
Amtrak hits record speed in Illinois (Welcome to the Fast Lane)
U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood blogs about the test train last Friday that hit speeds of 111 miles per hour — noticeably faster than the old 79 mph speed limit on the tracks between Normal and Joliet. It’s part of the Obama Administration’s efforts to increase inter-city train speeds in the U.S. Although proposals for bullet trains have been resisted outside California, the Administration has had some success in terms of upgrading tracks to boost Amtrak speeds.