Transportation headlines, Thursday, February 27

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That’s right, I don’t drive in Los Angeles (Zocalo Public Square) 

A lot of good stuff in this first-person account by Nicolei Gupit, whose family has relied on Metro and mass transit since moving here from the Phillipines in 1998. One nice graph:

I enjoyed observing Los Angeles in its different faces, like cities within the city, from MacArthur Park to Park La Brea, Downtown L.A. to West L.A. I was able to travel as far west as Santa Monica and as far south as Long Beach on public transportation for $1.25. I could catch any one of the dozen buses heading every cardinal direction away from my busy home-base intersection of Vermont Avenue and Santa Monica Boulevard. I learned by heart the cadence of passing streets as I rode the buses plying Vermont: Sunset, Fountain, Santa Monica, Melrose, Beverly, First, Third, Sixth, Wilshire. I created my own map of L.A. by surveying who got on and off the bus at which stops. While I heard mostly Spanish and Armenian spoken around East Hollywood, I would hear mostly Korean, Chinese, or Tagalog when passing neighboring areas heading south and west from home.

Not everything in the post is flattering to Metro or transit. Long waits at bus stops are mentioned, as are no-show buses.

New high-rise building on Broadway would be one of the tallest in Southern California (L.A. Times) 

The 34-story residential building is proposed for the corner of 4th and Broadway — it would be the first skyscraper built on Broadway in decades. It still needs city of Los Angeles approval and will likely need variances from existing zoning codes (like many other projects in L.A.). Still, exciting to see more big developments proposed in downtown L.A. which IMHO could use more big buildings and more residents. The location is along many Metro bus lines and is a short walk to the Pershing Square station for the Red/Purple Line and not far from the future 2nd/Broadway station for the Regional Connector.

On a related note, here’s a nice time-lapse of the 32-story building rising at Olive and 9th at Brigham Yen’s DTLA Rising blog.

Boxer: ‘We have to save the highway trust fund’ (The Hill)

Good article on the pending insolvency of the federal Highway Trust Fund that is used to help fund transportation projects around the country. The issue is that the federal gas tax hasn’t risen from 18.3 cents since 1993 and vehicles are getting much better mileage. Senator Boxer says there’s no political support for raising the tax — remember this is an election year in Congress — and she believes that President Obama’s proposal for a multiple year transportation spending bill has some creative funding solutions.

The bill also contains both elements of Metro’s America Fast Forward initiative. More on that at this post.

Metro’s bicycle brain trust (ZevWeb) 

A nice look at the way that cyclists and Metro are engaging each other these days. Metro’s Bicycle Roundtable helped get things rolling (pun intended) and have led to bikes being allowed on trains at peak hours and the ‘every lane is a bike lane’ public service announcement that debuted last year. Other issues remain, such as building bike channels in stairways at transit stations — something the cycling community wants to see.

Beverly Hills Weekly attorneys receive $40,000 from the Courier (Beverly Hills Weekly)

In this legal dispute between newspapers in Beverly Hills, the Courier sued the Weekly over unfair business practices. A judge recently awarded the Weekly $40,000 in attorney fees although appeals are underway. The Weekly’s attorney says the award demonstrates that the courts believe the Courier’s accusations had no merit.

Why more U.S. cities need to embrace bus rapid transit (Atlantic Cities) 

Another article touting the benefits of bus rapid transit lines, which mimic the benefits of rail but at a lower cost. But there’s a catch: cities need to give up road space, not an easy thing politically to do. On the plus side, most BRT lines around the country have done a good job of attracting ridership — probably because they can be much quicker than traditional local bus lines that stop frequently and get held up by red lights.

3 replies

  1. Federal tax policy has two primary purposes: (1) raising revenue (2) incentivizing desired behavior. If improved fuel economy translates into better air quality, and reduced dependence on foreign oil, then it’s had the desired effect. Not indexing fuel taxes to CPI (as has been done with aviation excise taxes since 1999) means that, viewed in constant dollars, this tax would still have been decreasing every year for the past 20 years even if consumption remained unchanged. That’s clearly unsustainable, unless there’s another permanent revenue source for the Highway Trust Fund.

    If Congress thinks reform should be off the table because this is an election year, all that demonstrates is just how badly we need to replace our incumbents with more responsible public servants. We have to repair our crumbling infrastructure before we sink to third-world nation status. Deferred maintenance is only going to end up costing us more in the long run. This absolutely should be an election year issue: it affects each and every one of us.

  2. In page 4 of the BH weekly link they report on a former BH school board member railing against that school district wasting money on lawsuits. He claims that over the past few years, test scores are down, employee morale is down, and the internal politics are toxic (paraphrasing here.) All these problems continue to accumulate while the board finds no shortage of outside entities to sue–like Metro! Maybe they could consider spending more time and money on educating their students, or am I not seeing the big picture?