Transportation headlines, Monday, August 12

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 Transportation Headlines online newspaper, which you can also access via email subscription (visit the newspaper site) or RSS feed.

ART OF TRANSIT: Happy 18th birthday to the Green Line, which opened Aug. 11, 1995. That's Travis the Safety Owl, who apparently has since retired. Photo: Metro Transportation Library & Archive.

ART OF TRANSIT: Happy 18th birthday to the Green Line, which opened Aug. 11, 1995. That’s Travis the Safety Owl, who apparently has since retired. Photo: Metro Transportation Library & Archive.

Exploring the Green Line: from nowhere to nowhere and all points between (KCET)

On the Green Line’s 18th birthday, Eric Brightwell gives himself a tour of the Green Line, which averaged about 42,000 boardings per weekday in June.

Newest train to come up short, at least at first (L.A. Times)

A look at the ongoing project and studies to bridge the 1.5-mile gap between the Crenshaw/LAX Line and terminals at Los Angeles International Airport via bus rapid transit, a people mover, light rail or a combination of those.

As the story notes, a lot of big questions remain about the project’s form and how close trains could get to the terminals. Another big question is whether Metro and LAX, which is run by the city of Los Angeles, can agree on the type of project and who would bear the cost. Measure R allocates $200 million to a project that could cost hundreds of millions of dollars more than that.

And then there’s this interesting X factor: what if Los Angeles decides for absolute certain to prepare a bid for the 2024 Summer Olympics? The Airport Connector project is currently scheduled to be complete in 2028 and I would expect an Olympic bid would add a sense of urgency to getting this particular project done to please Olympic officials. The Metro Board approved a Measure R project acceleration plan in June but its success will likely depend on getting federal dollars and persuading voters later this decade to extend Measure R.

Judge rules BART workers must stay on job next 60 days (San Jose Mercury News) 

BART officials and workers will have almost two more months to hammer out a deal — or face the prospect of a strike. The sides remain at an impasse over a wage increase, with BART offering a 10 percent hike over four years and workers wanting a 15 percent increase over three years.

‘Shovel-ready’ bullet train delayed again (L.A. Times) 

With a lot of design work still to do and property that still must be acquired, it appears that heavy construction of the first 29 miles of the bullet train between Madera and Fresno will not begin until next year at the earliest.

California leads nation in fatal crashes at rail crossings (KNBC)

The headline part isn’t entirely surprising: California is the most populous state. But the story also points out:

The most dangerous train crossing in California is where Nogales Street crosses the tracks in Rowland Heights. According to a new federal report, it is the third most dangerous crossing in the United States. Forty-thousand cars cross the tracks, over which 52 trains rumble each day.

That intersection will eventually get an underpass for car traffic. NBC also provides viewers with this link to a Federal Railroad Administration web tool that allows users to compare safety at different rail crossings.

A clean car boom (New York Times) 

Excerpt from this editorial:

Automakers sold more than 350,000 hybrid and electric cars in the first seven months of this year, up 30 percent from the same period in 2012. While these vehicles make up less than 4 percent of light vehicle sales, hybrids, which use electric motors and conventional engines, are now so mainstream that there are more than 40 models available. The most popular one, the Toyota Prius, is among the 10 best-selling passenger cars in the country.

As the editorial notes, the transportation sector accounts for 28 percent of the nation’s greenhouse gas emissions and reducing emissions from private vehicles will help lower that and help lowering smog and perhaps help reduce the impacts of climate change. The NYT’s ed board also notes that some smart federal policy in the way of tax breaks for consumers and loans for manufacturers has been a big help in getting more cleaner vehicles on the street.

A decade of the Metro Gold Line (KCET)

The Gold Line celebrated its 10th anniversary in late July. This post includes some project history and some good construction pics.

7 replies

  1. Not so long ago LAX was talking about a busway as an interim link so at least they and Metro now seem to be on the same page. I should note that even if travellers don’t ride the link just getting folks who work at LAX to use it will be a great boon to reducing traffic congestion at the airport. Ditto having a people mover serve a consolidated rental car facility like many cities have that would eliminate the constant parade of rental car shuttle buses circling at LAX.

    Bullet train delay is frustrating but not a surprise. It is something never done before in this country. Existing funding mechanisms are not well suited for a multi-decade intrastate project. Makes you appreciate the huge obstacles overcome with comparable past projects (state water project is the example I often cite).

    • Hi Dana;

      Completely agree on both points; LAX area has more than 55,000 jobs according to the Crenshaw/LAX Line EIR and that’s expected to keep growing.

      While it’s a bit of inside baseball, the story didn’t explain that both Crenshaw/LAX Line and Airport Connector were originally scheduled for the late 2020s under Measure R but the Board decided to move Crenshaw up in the long-range plan. Overall that’s a good thing although it, of course, allows media to intimate the Green Line mistake is being made all over again. Fair enough, but I do think Crenshaw/LAX Line will be near some of the major hotels and airport freight facilities to be useful to those employees.

      The bullet train story is only a story because state officials keep promising a ground breaking at a certain time (along with other promises). If they parsed their words more carefully, perhaps they wouldn’t invite such critical stories. Public relations 101.

      Steve Hymon
      Editor, The Source

  2. About parsing words… the Crenshaw/LAX line used to be referred to as ‘the Crenshaw Line’ in the early planning stages. At some point, well after it was clear that the route would not include a stop at the airport, Metro decided to add ‘LAX’ to the title. I believe many more parties than the CAHSR officials should learn to be more careful.

  3. At the very least, LAWA could run the LAX shuttle much more frequently. I once timed the duration between shuttles at 9 pm (when evening flights from hubs return) and found it to be over 20 minutes. Contrast that with Burbank, which runs shuttles to the Amtrak station much more frequently (not that you ever would need it) and has Super Shuttle on call from the North Hollywood Metro Red Line station.

  4. Billionaire Elon Musk unveils design plans for his Hyperloop, a system that could cut travel time from L.A. to San Francisco to 30 minutes.

    There is no more need to waste our money on the bullet train. Lets use that Bond money to build all the rail lines Metro plan to build.

  5. calwatch,

    Part of the reason why LAX shuttles take so long is that it can take 20 minutes alone just to fight through the traffic in the World Way loop from Terminals 1-6. You have all these hotel shuttles, parking lot shuttles, rental car shuttles, private cars, taxis, limos, Santa Barbara Airbus, Flyaway, etc. etc. all jammed up in that loop. Times two for arrivals and departure levels.

    Everytime I fly back into LAX, I see that horrible traffic jam. And it’s not like there’s a point to all those shuttles. You see a hotel shuttle heading to LAX Hilton and another parking lot shuttle heading to the Parking Spot Century which is RIGHT NEXT DOOR to the LAX Hilton. Can’t they just combine them into one single shuttle then? It’s ridiculous.

    And compare to the rest of the airports in the US, we don’t have a consolidated rental car facility. Hertz is located in one place, Alamo/National is located in another, Enterprise another place, while Dollar/Thrifty is located another. The rest of the airports in the US just consolidates all the rental car companies into one big giant structure or lot so that there’s no need for one Hertz shuttle, another Alamo/National shuttle, another Enterprise shuttle, and another redundant shuttle for Dollar/Thrifty. It’s ridiculous.

    Suvarnabhumi Airport in Bangkok, Thailand and Indira Gandhi International Airport in Delhi, India has a better airport connection rail system. Even St. Louis, MO has a direct rail link to Lambert Int’l. The fact that we’re behind even Bangkok, Delhi, and even St. Louis says how far behind our city is when it comes to connecting mass transit to our largest airport. And we’re supposed to be 2nd largest city in the US?