Transportation headlines, November 4, 2014

Have a transportation-related article you think should be included in headlines? Drop me an email! And don’t forget, Metro is on TwitterFacebook and Instagram.

It’s Election Day! Remember to vote!

If you need to find a polling place in L.A. County, please click here. The two elections that directly impact Metro today are for new county supervisors in the first and third districts to replace the termed-out Gloria Molina and Zev Yaroslavsky, respectively. Each of the five county supervisors represents about two million county residents and gets an automatic seat on the 13-member Metro Board of Directors, i.e. the place in this agency where the buck must apply the brakes.

Gold Line, Expo Line extensions may sit idle while waiting for rail cars (San Gabriel Valley Tribune)

Officials with the construction authorities building the Gold Line Foothill Extension and the Expo Line Phase 2 are concerned that Metro may not have enough new light rail vehicles to fully operate the new rail lines once they’re ready to open. At this time, Metro is forecasting opening dates for both projects in the first half of 2016.

Three things I’d like to clarify:

•Both rail projects are on pace to complete construction next year. At that point, the Gold Line Foothill Extension Construction Authority and the Expo Line Construction Authority begin the process of handing over the projects to Metro, which may include fixing any issues raised by Metro. The projects then need to be tested, personnel trained to operate and maintain them and state permits secured to open the lines. In the past, that process has taken six months or longer.

•Metro has 78 new light rail vehicles on order from Kinkisharyo. A test car has already arrived — see this recent Source post — and Metro is expected to initially receive four vehicles per month beginning in mid-2015 with all 78 cars delivered to Metro by Jan. 2017. The rail car manufacturer is on schedule.

•The articles references a proposal for Metro to acquire 30-year-old rail vehicles from St. Louis. That proposal was explored by Metro but was found not to be financially viable and it was rejected.

Bottom line: As Metro Board Member John Fasana says in the Tribune’s article, the schedules are tighter than anyone would like given that both light rail projects have made great progress to date. But it’s probably too early to tell at this point how much of an issue this will be. Stay tuned.

Tom Magliozzi, Popular Co-Host Of NPR’s ‘Car Talk,’ Dies At 77 (NPR)

So sad. Tom and his brother Ray — known as Click and Clack — were hilarious, philosophical and week after week they showed how little Americans know about the cars they love and drive. There’s a nice obituary and appreciation in the New York Times, too.

Here’s an NPR “Fresh Air” interview with Tom from 2001 — a good listen for those on transit and with headphones today:

Diagonal crosswalks put drivers, pedestrians at different cross purposes (L.A. Times) 

The city of Los Angeles is considering a very modest expansion of diagonal crosswalks. The upside: more safety for pedestrians as no cars are allowed into intersections while people cross. But motorists and officials worry about a downside: longer waits for motorists at intersections. My three cents: I think the diagonal crosswalks work well and help prevent impatient/incompetent/distracted motorists from turning right into pedestrians legally in the crosswalk. Another tactic less onerous to motorists: Some cities are also delaying green lights for motorists to give pedestrians a head start and make them more visible in crosswalks.

Roads not taken have left Tampa where it is today (Tampa Bay Times) 

Where it is today: stuck in traffic, it seems. After the shelving of many road and transit plans over the years, residents are once again voting on a plan to build light rail and expand bus service. I’m pretty certain it’s one of the biggest metro area issues on the ballot today. Having driven in Florida, I’m all for anything that takes Florida motorists off Florida roads.

6 replies

  1. Have they considered running trains with limited service to the extensions? Operating then with a reduced frequency might be better than nothing at all.

    • Hi Pat;

      Metro is looking at some different scenarios but nothing has been decided — and I doubt will until the projects are completed and the timing of everything is more certain. I do think that in the grand scheme of things this situation may not be ideal, but will also be a temporary issue on rail lines that will be open for many decades to come.

      Steve Hymon
      Editor, The Source

  2. Diagonal Crosswalks (I learned them as “Amble Scrambles”) only work if the pedestrians honor the “don’t walk” signals. The intersection in Woodland Hills of Erwin and Owensmouth is one such, and pedestrians routinely walk on green lights – meaning that drivers can’t make their turns. Similarly, the intersection of Hoover and Jefferson (at USC) has pedestrians ignoring the “don’t walk” signs.

    • I highly doubt you would see a diagonal crosswalk in the Valley outside of Van Nuys or North Hollywood, so your fears are totally unfounded. You ARE aware that not every crosswalk (and only a select few in pedestrian-heavy areas) would become a diagonal crosswalk, right?

      • I assure you that the corner of Erwin and Owensmouth (next to the Woodland Hills transit center) is a diagonal crossing – I have walked and driven it many times.

  3. Beverly Hills has scramble walks – and also Pasadena. I like them, just have to notify the gents that it is a diagonal crosswalk which they do by signs on each corner. I don’t really see much of a delay on Via Rodeo but crossing Colorado and Fair Oaks or wherever it is in Pasadena seems a bit more hectic with traffic.