Transportation headlines, Tuesday, October 8

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Processed with VSCOcamI had a chance to tour the Hercules Campus at Playa Vista last night with the Westside Urban Forum. This is the old Hughes Aircraft Company site near the intersection of Jefferson and Centinela, including the hangar (above) where Hughes built the Spruce Goose. The hangar is looking for tenants as the big budget movies that have rented the space in recent years are increasingly filming outside California.

I love the campus — it’s a really nice mix of old buildings that have been renovated, some new structures and open space. It’s a little reminiscent of the Presidio, the old army base in San Francisco, except the Presidio is on a much larger scale.

The challenge, of course, is connecting the entire Playa Vista development — the commercial and residential second phase is now being built — with the city around it. There are certainly Metro buses and Culver City buses in the area. As Playa Vista grows, however, I think it would be interesting to see, at the least, really good peak hour service between Playa Vista and the Expo Line’s La Cienega station — it’s five miles between the two on Jefferson. 

There is a bike option. The Ballona Creek bike path runs just north of Playa Vista and can be used to ride to the La Cienega station. But it can be a little creepy and isolated in the flood control channel if alone and the path is decent, but I wouldn’t call it great and it’s not something I would recommend for anyone after dark.

Hitting CicLAvia on a pedicycle (L.A. Times)

An editorial board member with a busted foot gets a lift on a pedicycle and decides there’s no better way to experience the sights of DTLA. Excerpt:

Then I hobbled back to my car and drove home to the Westside. Within half an hour, I was weaving my way through Sunday afternoon traffic on Santa Monica Boulevard, gunning my car around slow drivers and shooting up Centinela looking for a faster way home, fuming at ill-timed traffic lights that seemed determined to make me trudge all the way.

What happened to my CicLAvia mellow? I thought back on all the slow-traffic-is-better talk I had heard and realized: I want to go as fast as I can in my car. Period.

OK, so I’m still struggling with the idea of Los Angeles melding cars and bikes. But I’m not alone, and the important thing is for us all to have this conversation about bikes and cars and sharing the road. Because we’re all here to stay.

Seems to me it’s been a pretty one-sided conversation for the past seven or eight decades. Cars get all the road space and pedestrians and cyclists could pretty much buzz off. Of course, we know how the region’s attempt at putting all its eggs in the car basket worked out — sort of badly, IMO.

More than 50 percent of city freight could move from truck to bike (Treehugger) 

As long as distances are reasonable and payloads are less than 400 pounds or so, according to new research from Europe. Hmm, this one sounds like a bit of a stretch to me, although fewer trucks certainly sounds appealing. Then again, a fleet of Costco bikes hauling millions of rolls of T.P. around town would be interesting.

Another reason not to build the hyperloop (The Atlantic Cities) 

The hyperloop is Elon Musk’s proposed substitute for high-speed rail in
California that would whisk people between L.A. and S.F. in 35 minutes. Excerpt from this article:

At a wide-ranging CityLab panel on the future of urban infrastructure, Sir Edward Lister, London’s deputy mayor for planning, spoke of the perils of chasing the next big thing. Responding to a question from transit consultant Jarrett Walker about generating support for a new infrastructure project, Lister cautioned against letting official eyes wander too far from the present.

“The trouble we always have, especially when dealing with government and trying to negotiate funding packages, is you always get this argument: you don’t want that scheme because this next scheme is going to be more modern, much faster, much cheaper,” he said. “Therefore you kill off the current scheme but you never quite get to the next scheme because another few years have rolled by. That is a danger. I’ve come to the conclusion that it almost doesn’t matter what you build, just build it. It always gets used and it gets used very quickly and fast becomes overcrowded. In any kind of mass transit operation, get moving with whatever you’ve got, which is current technology.”

I don’t think there’s anything wrong with high-speed rail technology. Trains are nice. They can be fast. The issue here involves the routing and politics — i.e. how much we’re willing to spend to make the train go really fast. If you can get me to San Francisco in five to six hours aboard a train, I’ll leave the Subaru at home.

5 replies

  1. It’s actually faster to get from Playa Vista to the Metro by taking a right on Slauson all the way out to La Cienega and turning left. Since La Cienega was originally designed as part of a freeway, through the hills there are fewer traffic lights and the speed limit is higher. Of course, a local route along Jefferson would get you more passengers – probably why Culver City already has one.

  2. Best way to connect east side of Playa Vista to Expo line is to extend Big Blue Bus line 14 south by 1 mile to the Campus. And add Rapid 14, which is badly needed to increase bus capacity on Centinela Ave and Bundy.

    Line 14 and Rapid 14 will provide single seat ride to Expo line Bundy station.

  3. Let’s not wait until someone’s using high-speed rail to deliver human organs for a lifesaving transplant to ask, “why couldn’t we have spent a little more back then to make the train go a lot faster right now?”

  4. Why doesn’t Metro buy the place, renovate it with shops and in the future make it into a badly needed Westside transit hub? Should the Green Line ever makes its way north, it can then be used as a train station.

    I think Metro needs to start looking at real estate ventures on their own so they don’t have to deal with NIMBY issues in the future. Just buy the lot, develop as you wish, make tons of money, and when the time comes, develop it as a transit hub and since Metro owns the place, they don’t have to deal with crybabies and “more useless studies needed” redtape.

  5. From Lincoln and Culver Blvd to the Culver City Expo station is closer than going to the La Cienega station. The same if you are near Centinela Ave and Jefferson. Centinela to Culver Blvd would lead you to the Culver City station.