Transportation headlines, Wednesday, January 22

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This is a long one today, folks — lots of news since last week to catch up on. And away we go…

Metro breaks ground on $2-billion Crenshaw/LAX Line (L.A. Times and Daily Breeze

Crenshaw evolving: a look at Santa Barbara Plaza (Another Perfect Day) 

The news stories in the Times and the Breeze focus on yesterday’s groundbreaking event and both also note there were some protestors there — some arguing against the train running at street level through Park Mesa Heights, others saying the job should generate more local construction jobs.

Also rightly getting a mention is the ‘LAX’ part of the project’s name. Both articles note that a separate project is working to figure out how to connect the Crenshaw/LAX Line to the airport. The Breeze article states that Metro officials are reluctant to build rail tunnels directly under the central terminal area and that’s correct — however, it should also be known that Los Angeles World Airports owns the land and officials have made it clear they don’t want rail tunnels under the terminal area due to the complexity of the work involved.

The Another Perfect Day blog post looks at redevelopment in the area along Crenshaw Boulevard and ponders whether the new rail line could help spark things. I liked this excerpt:

Back in 2008, I started working in the community and people who would see me with a camera knew that I was part of some type of redevelopment effort. Many conversations were had, but the universal message I got was that people were seeking the same kind of amenities that any community would want. Most of us take for granted the pleasant little communes we call shopping malls, but many would travel to such places as Fox Hills, Westside Pavilion or the South Bay Galleria to have an experience that was safer and more upscale.

Ultimately, they wanted to all this in their own backyard and who can blame them? We’re all Angelinos who hate traffic.

 

There was a lot of talk at yesterday’s event about the new rail line bringing economic development to the Crenshaw Corridor. That, of course, would be great and I personally believe the Crenshaw/LAX Line could help.

But…I also think rail lines alone don’t revive local economies. As we’ve discussed here before, you can certainly look at the Metro Rail map and find places such as NoHo, Hollywood, K-Town and DTLA (to name a few) that have seen a revival since the arrival of Metro Rail. You can also find many places near rail stations that haven’t changed much (much of the Blue Line corridor, for example).

So what does it take to revive a community? Mobility is certainly one factor, but other things that come into play are public safety, schools, a diverse stock of real estate and the willingness these days of businesses — including the national chains — to invest in neighborhoods they’ve overlooked or plain ignored.

As for the Crenshaw/LAX Line part of the equation, I disagree that the street level portion will be bad for Park Mesa Heights — in fact, I think having the train visible to the neighborhood and vice versa are a good thing. I also think it’s important to note that the current project isn’t happening in a silo. As noted, the Airport Metro Connector is working on the LAX part of the equation.

The South Bay Green Line Extension (a project partially funded by Measure R) will push the Green Line deeper into the South Bay, allowing trains to run from the South Bay to the Expo Line via the new Crenshaw/LAX tracks. An extension of the Crenshaw/LAX Line remains in Metro’s long-range plan, albeit in the unfunded section. That would presumably push the tracks to the north toward the Purple Line subway. It may seem a long way off, but building that kind of transit network would benefit everyone, Crenshaw Corridor included.

L.A. Councilman Mike Bonin: airlines may not want it but LAX must be connected to rail (L.A. Airspace)

The story is in reaction to LAX chief Gina Marie Lindsey telling the airport’s board last week that airlines aren’t interested in a people mover or rail going to the airport because they don’t want to pay for it and it doesn’t really benefit them. She also opined that perhaps it’s best to keep costs low for a people mover or “Intermodal Transportation Facility” that would serve as a junction between light rail and a people mover.

Bonin represents the Westside and the airport on the L.A. City Council and he repeats what he has said before: to paraphrase, he doesn’t give a hoot what the airlines say:

“It’s hardly a revelation that the airlines have little interest in growing transportation,” Bonin said. “All they care about is that you are at the airport. They don’t care if it took you three or four hours to get there. Our commitment as owners and operators of the airport requires us to be competitive for the customer experience. Traditionally, it’s an area where LAX has fallen down.”

Bonin and Mayor Eric Garcetti have said that connecting transit to the airport is among their top transit priorities. I think both this new article and the one last week require some reading between the lines and my reading tells me that when it comes to the airport and City Hall, it may be worth remembering who exactly works for who. :)

Metro seeks to raise fares and allow free transfers on bus, rail (L.A. Times) 

News coverage by Laura Nelson of the fare proposals released by Metro late Friday. Excerpt:

“We looked at our whole fare structure and said, is this really fair to our riders?” Metro spokesman Marc Littman told The Times. “We actually penalize our passengers for trying to use the system more efficiently.”

More than half of passengers make a transfer during their trips, Metro surveys indicate. Charging full fare at each transfer discourages passengers from using more than one bus or train, Littman said.

Riders who buy daily, weekly and monthly passes will see the biggest increase in price because most of them use the system most heavily, Littman said. The monthly unlimited pass, now $75, would be eliminated in 2018 and merged with a pass that allows unlimited rides on all Los Angeles County bus systems. The price would eventually rise to either $135 or $180.

Some of the comments are interesting and let’s just say they’re not all rave reviews of the proposals.

Here’s our Source post about the proposals, including the Metro staff report and charts showing the two options being proposed. On Thursday, the Metro Board of Directors are scheduled to consider whether to set a public hearing on the proposal on March 29.

LADOT announces Priority 2 list of planned bikeways (LADOT Bike Blog) 

The list includes the two dozen or so bike lane projects that the city of Los Angeles is pursuing in the next year. The mileage for most is on the small side but hopefully will help create more of a bike lane network than what currently exists.

Making Pasadena’s Colorado Boulevard into a haven for pedestrians (L.A. Times) 

The city is pondering removing one lane in each direction and converting part of the street from parallel to diagonal parking in the Theater District (i.e. the area around the Vromans bookstore and the Laemmle theater). This would allow for wider sidewalks and parklets.

Traffic doesn’t exactly flow smoothly through the area now thanks to many cross streets and poor timing of traffic signals (my opinion, not the city’s — I live in Pasadena). So perhaps this makes it a better spot. Or perhaps this plan serves to completely constipate traffic on the main thoroughfare through town.

If the plan gets more development on Colorado, then I’m for it — although it will likely push traffic onto other nearby east-west streets, which will need better signal synchronization to handle it. I’ve been watching South Lake Avenue suffer a slow death for years now and I’d like to see the commercial corridors in town remain viable. And by viable I don’t mean 18 different types of banks, yogurt places and/or Subway sandwich shops.

2 replies

  1. As far as Pasadena goes, note that there is a nice ten lane freeway a half mile away for regional trips. So putting traffic calming on Colorado and diverting office-type traffic to Union and Green makes more sense. With traffic in one direction those one way streets should be fairly easy to synchronize. It certainly makes more sense than ideas of narrowing Las Tunas in Temple City or Slauson in Ladera Heights, were there are no freeway or arterial alternatives anywhere close.

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  2. While building these new Light Rail lines is great there seems to be a lack of long range planning when it come to connections of each line. The Blue and Green Lines are not physically connected except by a small steep service track at Imperial Station. The same will be true concerning the Crenshaw and Expo Lines. It makes far better sense to physically connect all the lines so as to create new lines using existing track age. For instance some southbound Blue Line trains proceeding westbound on Green Line tracks. Instead of two lines and third line would be created.

    If one looks at past history of streetcars in Los Angeles all the last remaining lines all operated out of one division located where the Convention Center is now. These line operated on Vermont Ave. , Jefferson Bl. etc. The same was true for the Pacific Electric lines. For instance the “Hollywood Cars” were operated on almost every line in the system at one time or another. No trucking to move them, only interlocking tracks. This would also mean additional heavy service for special events, New Years in Pasadena, could be provided with cars from other lines to supplement those on the Gold Line.

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