Transportation headlines, Tuesday, Oct. 23

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.

For those who missed, there was a booth at the Taste of Soul Festival on Crenshaw Boulevard on Saturday with information from Metro and the Los Angeles Alliance for a New Economy about Metro’s new Careers Construction Policy to help workers get apprenticeships and jobs building Metro projects. For more info, please visit http://www.metro.net/about/pla/

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.

Westsiders could shut down Expo Line Phase 2 work, starting this week (Curbed LA)

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.

Diesel fumes more polluting than gas, new California study finds (L.A. Times)

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.

3 replies

  1. “There’s relatively little storage space on the chip — enough for about three weeks of recent trips on average.”

    However, that does not include the server side of the story.

    It’s the same as your average credit card. Very little information is stored on the magnetic stripe on the back of your card.

    But the servers of VISA, MC, and banks tracks your spending, where you use it the most, and uses an algorithm model to provide you with discounts (hmm, this guy uses his card a lot at Ralphs, let’s give him a 5% discount) and see if there anything fishy going on (wait a minute, he usually pumps his gas at this gas station and he bought a bottle of wine in Torrance, what the heck is this odd looking charge for $100 worth of gas in New Jersey, better give this guy a call that his card might’ve been skim cloned).

    The same thing with Clipper Cards. Very little info is stored on the RFID chip. But there are lots of data collection going on in the server end.

    Clipper Cards, which are essentially the same technology and the same manufacturer as our TAP cards, are able to handle tap-in & tap-out to do distance based fares on BART and Caltrain, as well as flat rate fares on MUNI, SamTrans, and VTA.

    Because BART and Caltrain uses distance based fares, you need a TAP out process. You need a server to calculate instantaneously how much to deduct from the card based on travel distance: Tap-in (records where you got on), tap-out (records where you got off, connect to server, calculate how much to deduct, deduct $X based on travel distance).

    If you have a central server, the server also does collection of data where people get on and off. But there’s a reason to that: it also provides a better insight to the agency that collects such data on where people get off the most, at what time which stations tend to get crowded, and even figure out better coordination with transfers.

    Something like: “hey, now we see that 50,000 get off at this station and out of that, 30% of them transfers to another line! Maybe we can use this data to better coordinate our transit systems?” or “During these hours, very few people get off at these stations. Maybe we can run an express service during these hours which bypasses these stations?”

    This is how mass transit systems all over the world utilizes data collected from tap-in/tap-out distance based fares. Now do you understand why the rest of the world who have better mass transit systems uses distance based fares? Because they can do so much more with it!

  2. BRT works but not for corridors as populated as that which the orange line serves. I wish someone would make a video of how uncomfortable it is to rite jam packeck in some of these busses that leave this stations. It’s horrible! And this line isn’t very bike friendly. Only 3bikes per bus.. This means someone riding is SOL durian rush hour because the racks are filled up at either end. Being jam packed into a train is uncomfortable yes but when at least it’s not jerky like the bus’s gear changes. Some bus drivers have an issue with braking too. Thy real too fast! When your stick in the back not near a holding bar it’s not much fun. I’ve almost fallen and I’ve seen people fall. This is a hazard. I wish people would take these thigs into accound when planning these lines. Lastly, the orange line is not faster or even as fast as driving. He’s dead wrong on that one. I have noticed though that time during rush hour has sped up. The busses hit more green lights during rush hour where as before they didn’t and for that I thank u Metro 🙂

  3. “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.”

    Need I say it? It would be redundant to even state the vast inaccuracies that is the essence of this entire statement. Anyone who has ever ridden the orange line bus could see how self evident that is.