Transportation headlines, Monday, November 18

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ART OF TRANSIT: My somewhat less-than-cheery view of fall colors in downtown L.A. What can I say? I get grump-grump on Fridays!

N.H.T.S.A reports higher traffic deaths (New York Times) 

The lead really sums it up:

More people died on United States roads in 2012 than in 2011, according to a report from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Motorcyclist and pedestrian deaths each increased for the third year in a row, and deaths of bicyclists reached the highest level in six years. Over all, however, traffic deaths continue to be at historic lows.

Fatalities in 2011 were at their lowest level since 1949. The 2012 increase could not be attributed to Americans driving more, because motorists drove nearly the same number of miles in 2012 as they did in 2011, according to the report. Highway deaths increased to 33,561 in 2012, according to the safety agency’s 2012 Fatality Analysis Reporting System, known as FARS. That is 1,082 – or 3.3 percent – more than the 2011 figure. The majority of the increase occurred in the first quarter of 2012, which the report notes was the warmest in history.

There’s a lot of chilling news in just two paragraphs; I’m sure everyone would like to know what is happening on the motorcycle, pedestrian and cycling fronts (on cycling, I’m guessing perhaps more people are biking).

The last sentence threw me for a loop, too. I expected it to say colder than usual — i.e. perhaps accidents were weather related. In fact, it may be the other way around. Warmer temps meant perhaps that more people were on the road driving not as carefully as they should.

Metro gate rail problem lets cheaters ride for free (L.A. Times) 

The headline is misleading. The article is a look at Metro’s plans to install and latch gates at 41 of Metro’s 80 stations, including the entire subway and many of the busiest stops. The remaining stops are not getting gates because of lack of space (think platforms in the middle of the tracks) or the expense involved. At the stations with no gates, passengers are expected to tap their TAP cards (this is the so-called problem in the headline) and those who fail to tap can be cited by Sheriff’s Deputies. County Supervisor and Metro Board Member Zev Yaroslavsky published a similar article about this issue back in September.

Ed P. Reyes River Greenway on the verge of opening for business (L.A. Streetsblog)

Nice look at the new 1.15-acre park adjacent to the 5 freeway, Los Angeles River and Gold Line tracks named after former L.A. Councilman Ed Reyes, a champion of making the river look like, well, a river. Gold Line riders have been able to watch the work progress over the past year; the park is on the east side of the river and south side of the tracks. Another six-acre park is planned on the old Albion Dairy site on the eastern bank of the river between Spring and Albion streets. Slowly but surely, the river is getting some green space.

And it can definitely use it — here’s a nice pic from Simon Oh posted to Instagram and looking south from the 1st Street Bridge:

Making connections on a trapped subway train (NPR)

Very nice story about Paquita Williams, a subway conductor and 15-year veteran of the New York Subway. Excerpt:

With the power out, Paquita walked the length of the train, comforting nervous passengers. That made a real impression on Laura. “You really made everybody on that train connect,” Laura says. “We all started talking with each other like human beings. And we left the train and somebody was like, ‘Let’s do this again tomorrow morning.’

Go to the above link to listen to the segment — it only runs about two minutes.

13 replies

  1. All the stations have to be locked.

    It’s not our fault that Metro had poor planning to build stations right in the middle of the road which in itself is a stupid idea to begin with.

    The way I see it is that Metro’s poor planning created this problem, they need to find ways to fix it. No excuses.

    • Hi Paul;

      I think there are pros and cons to any road/track configuration when it comes to street-running tracks. That is why many people argue for complete grade separation, although that of course is very expensive.

      Steve Hymon
      Editor, The Source

  2. Just do what the Dutch do with their OV Chipkaart: you check in and you check out on board the trams.

    In Amsterdam, not all stations have gates. For example, the local tram system, you check-in with your OV Chipkaart upon boarding like the bus. When you get off, you check out so it deducts the correct fare depending on distance travelled.

    So when you get on at one place, you check in at the reader on the tram by tapping in your OV Chipkaart. When you arrive at your destination, you check out by tapping at the reader. It’s so easy to not having to figure out how much it’s going to cost to go where because everything is done automatically. Check in and check out, tap, tap, tap, and it’s so ridiculously easy that anyone can understand this, even a first timer to Amsterdam.

    See, you don’t need to have to have gates at all stations. For non gateable stations, all Metro needs to do is add readers to the trains themselves instead.

    Check out the cool how-to videos of the OV Chipkaart here:

    There’s just so many solutions to do this. For every problem Metro thinks it has, another city somewhere in the world probably has that figured out. And thanks to the internet, it allows us to see what other cities around the world are doing without ever going there. Shouldn’t Metro study how other cities around the world are doing instead of trying to figure stuff out on their own?

    I recommend Metro take their people to Amsterdam and find out how awesome transit in this city is. So walkable, so easy to navigate, no confusing passes or transfers to remember, no waiting in lines to get on board, everything is so simple!

    Why can’t Metro be like Amsterdam?

  3. Love Amsterdam does have a point though.

    Metro does makes too much of a big deal about everything when tried-and-true answers are already out there in other cities around the world.

    If there are stations that can’t be gated, add TAP readers inside the trains. The buses already have TAP validators inside the bus, who says trains can’t also?

    All they have to do is look what other cities around the world are doing and they have the answer to their problems.

  4. I blame it on poor uses of tax dollars.

    When they should’ve been using taxes wisely by going after fare evasion, they were wasting them installing artwork at the stations.

  5. I find it amazing that Metro now admits their mistakes when they’ve been denying that fare evasion was a problem.

    What’s all the change in attitude? Did they finally see the light that they were wrong? Perhaps there is a light at the end of the tunnel to fix everything wrong that Metro is doing.

  6. Jake, Where in the article did Metro say they have a fare evasion problem? 5%? Big deal! New York, with a fully gated system and those funny flashing lights behind the driver on their buses still has a 2% fare evasion rate. The rider cited in the story was not guilty of fare evasion, just not “punching in” for the day. No revenue was lost by Metro on him. There’s no problem that better positioned TAP stanchions and some more inspectors on duty wouldn’t solve. And think of the local jobs that would have created just when the local economy really needed them!

  7. How does adding tap readers in the train do anything to solve fare evasion? If anything it will make it worse as people seeing the fare inspectors coming to check fares on the train will quickly go over to the validator and be in compliance. When there is no fare inspector they won’t tap. This solves nothing.

  8. Erik,

    “Five percent” of Metro riders is still a lot of lost revenue, moreso as more and more people turn to transit and more lines and stations get added in the coming years.

    I don’t care if the fare evasion rate is less than one half of one percent; everyone has to pay to board the train.

    With funding problems, it’s imperative that Metro gets its act together to fix the fare evasion loopholes that exist.

  9. Matt,

    If we go to a tap-in/tap-out system, which we should, then we won’t need fare inspectors at all because those that don’t tap-in, won’t be let out to reach their destination. In fact, it’ll make people ensure to tap-in and tap-out if they don’t want to be overcharged for a particular ride distance.

  10. TAP User,

    That doesn’t answer the question as to how having TAP readers on the trains solves any problem. A TAP out system won’t likely ever work on our system, because most of the light rail stations don’t have room for gates.

  11. TAP-in and TAP-out is used all over the world, on buses (Singapore) and on trains with gates (BART) or no gates (Caltrain).

    I don’t see why it can’t work here.