Transportation headlines, Monday, February 3

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Super long waits for a train (New York Times)

There was a single New Jersey Transit commuter train line serving the Meadowlands and Super Bowl 48 on Sunday. It worked before the game when 28,000 train-going fans had all afternoon to get there. After the game? Well, there were lines and waits of two hours or more for some. I felt just a little bit sorry for the fans — having to sit through a boring second half after paying all that money, not to mention sitting through endless commercials and then a long wait for a train.

What would the lines be like if the Super Bowl was ever again played at the Coliseum or Rose Bowl? Hard to say. The Expo Line serves the Coliseum for USC football and the Gold Line serves a bus shuttle to the Rose Bowl. But I don’t think either has ever had to serve anywhere close to 28,000 football fans at one game. I think you would need as many trains as could safely run on either line (the Regional Connector will help with number of trains that could run) plus a lot of supplemental bus service. And patience.

As for the next NFL season, I think the 49ers will knock off the ‘Hawks and Saints in the NFC — if San Francisco can overcome its turnover woes in big games. The AFC is a muddier picture but I wouldn’t be shocked if it comes down to the Steelers, Patriots, Colts or Broncos if Denver can manage to protect Peyton Manning. The Bengals have a ton of talent but I could probably find a Nepalese goat herder who could better manage a game than their coaching staff.

Speaking of the NFL, here’s the L.A. Times’ Michael Hiltzik on the news that the owner of the St. Louis Rams has purchased a 60-acre site in Inglewood adjacent to the Forum Hollywood Park. The Rams will likely threaten to move there if St. Louis taxpayers don’t agree to spruce up the Edward Jones Dome to the tune of $700 million. Hiltzik says it’s an empty threat given the NFL’s recent history with L.A. — the league really just wants the threat of teams moving here in order to leverage new stadiums or stadium improvements back in cities already with teams.

In the extremely unlikely event the Rams move there, it looks like the stadium would be a 1.2-mile walk from the future Crenshaw/LAX Line station at La Brea & Florence.

When pedestrians get mixed signals (New York Times) 

Transportation writer Tom Vanderbilt writes about Los Angeles’ recent crackdown on jaywalkers in downtown. Excerpt:

Thus a familiar pattern reasserts itself: The best way to reduce pedestrian deaths is to issue tickets to pedestrians. A similar dynamic can be seen in recent weeks after a spate of pedestrian deaths in New York City, where Mayor Bill de Blasio has endorsed more aggressive enforcement by the New York Police Department against jaywalkers.

Enforcement against jaywalking varies between states, but it is an infraction in most, even a misdemeanor in some. The international picture is mixed: Crossing the road at other than a designated spot is also an offense in Canada, Spain, Poland and Australia, among other countries. Singapore is especially harsh — jaywalking can earn a three-month prison sentence. As you might expect, Scandinavian countries are less punitive. In Britain, the term is rare, and the presumption is that crossing the road safely is a matter of personal responsibility.

But neither enforcement nor education has the effect we like to think it does on safety. Decades of graphic teenage driving safety films did not bring down teenage driving deaths; what did was limiting the age and conditions under which teenagers could begin to drive. Similarly, all the “awareness campaigns” on seatbelt usage have had a fraction of the impact of simply installing that annoying chime that impels drivers to buckle up.

If tough love will not make pedestrians safer, what will? The answer is: better walking infrastructure, slower car speeds and more pedestrians. But it’s easier to write off the problem as one of jaywalkers.

Well put, Tom.

Meanwhile, the L.A. Times’ Steve Lopez writes about pedestrians versus the city of Los Angeles’ sidewalks, which has resulted in millions of dollars of legal settlements with people who have been injured in falls due to bad sidewalks in recent years. Excerpt:

A $3-billion bond measure city officials hope to put on the November ballot would pay only for street repairs as currently conceived, though it’s possible sidewalks could be added to the proposal. Either way, the measure, which would add about $200 a year to the property tax bill of a home assessed at $500,000, wouldn’t begin to fix all the city’s streets and sidewalks. Should we be doing more?

Downtown’s huge Metropolis project could start construction next month (Curbed LA)

The project includes five buildings on 6.3 acres, with the owner — the Shanghai-based Greenland Group — wanting to begin work on the first two buildings (19 stories and 38 stories, respectively). Works for me; downtown Los Angeles needs the density and its skyline, while nice, is still on the sparse side.

Below is a photo I took Friday afternoon at sunset. I was planning on taking it from the Los Angeles City Hall observation deck, except after arriving at City Hall I learned the deck is only open on weekdays until 5 p.m. (I shot it from Grand Park instead). That means that Angelenos can’t visit the deck to watch the sunset when sunset occurs after 5 p.m., which happens to be the vast majority of the year. Hmmm. And in case you’re thinking ‘someone should tell Tom LaBonge about this, I already did 🙂

Photo by Steve Hymon.

Photo by Steve Hymon.

7 replies

  1. So much for Seahags and Donkeys fans showing up games via the use of public transportation and the increased security measures at Metlife Stadium. The game wasn’t evn that great as the Donkeys were getting thrashed by the Seahags throughout first half, until the Donkeys start putting some points on the score voard, but it didn’t last for long as they continued to falter and lose a big one. In addition to the game being worse, the halftime show wasn’t that great either. Oh well, it’s what it is.
    Speaking of the recent news of Stan Kroenke (owner of the Los Angeles Rams of Stank Louis) purchasing a 60 acre north of the defunct Hollywood Park, I believe he will build a different development rather than an NFL stadium, as the EIR and public outreach with have to be included in this. Public transportation won’t help that much to help fans get to the location neither will the future Crenshaw/LAX lightrail line.

  2. The problem NJTransit faced on Super Sunday was that they didn’t use normal MetLife Stadium service. Normally most shuttle trains originate out of Hoboken & makes a stop at Secaucus, the transfer station for most commuter trains. Because Secaucus had airport-style security in place (all passengers had t show both train & game tickets!), all trains operated from Secaucus to the Meadowlands Sports Complex. Similarly, all trains leaving East Rutherford NJ, were only going to Secaucus. By the way, NJTransit & the NFL kept reminding everyone to take the train to the Big Game.

    I felt that NJTransit could have designated certain trains from the sports complex to Hoboken (perhaps even bypassing Secaucus). From Hoboken, passengers could then take NJTransit’s Main/Bergen County or Pascack Valley lines to other stops along those lines in Northern NJ; riders returning to NYC could transfer to a PATH train (which runs 24/7) to Midtown Manhattan. Buses were also an option as the roads were uncharacteristically quiet that night (reason was because there was VERY limited parking spaces available & they were VERY expensive).

    I didn’t have the privilege to have gotten a ticket to Super Bowl XLVIII, but if I did, I’d still use the train–even if it meant taking a lifetime to get back home.

  3. RE: Pedestrians. The problems are not limited to pedestrians but that’s what this post was about. It’s about obeying the law and if everyone — pedestrians, cyclists and motorists — did that, traffic would move much more smoothly and safely. If you don’t like the laws, then get them changed. Until then, obey the law.

  4. If we want an NFL team:
    a.) Make it an expansion franchise owned by a combination of native owners, not a greedy transplant owner looking for taxpayers to be his sugar daddies.
    b.) Rebuild the Coliseum in the historic outer shell (like Chicago did with Soldier Field) and service it via the Expo Line.

  5. As a proponent of less government intrusion in our lives and the idea that more should be put back to personal responsibility, I think we should adopt the British approach to jaywalking: “if you die by getting hit by a car from jaywalking, that’s no one’s fault but yours.”

    It’s a lot less cheaper for taxpayers that way and brings back personal responsibility to people instead of the government babysitting us all the time like a nanny state. We don’t need cops all over town going after jaywalkers. We don’t need more frivolous lawsuits that makes them instant millionaires for suing the city when they’re clearly wrong.

    You want to jaywalk, go ahead. But if that leads to disastrous consequences, that’s your personal responsibility to deal alone. Enough said.