That’s actually a short list of ideas for questions submitted to the LAT transpo reporter Laura Nelson. I’ll tackle a couple of the easy ones:
•An extension of the Green Line deeper into the South Bay — and possibly to Torrance — is one of the projects due to receive funding from Measure R. Environmental studies still need to be completed and the project isn’t due to be completed until 2035 under the agency’s current Long-Range Transportation Plan (see page 32).
•We ran a post earlier this year about delays in bringing cell service and wifi to underground stations and tunnels on the Metro Rail system. At the time we reported, “…the schedule has slipped due to ongoing negotiations between Metro’s contractor, InSite Wireless, and wireless carriers. InSite Wireless still must also sign a deal with a firm to supply WiFi in underground stations.” I don’t have any updates as of this time.
A couple other tweetlicious things:
Framework recommendations for Metro’s potential 2016 ballot measure (Investing in Place)
No, this is a not a list recommending specific transpo projects. Rather, the advocacy group says the potential ballot measure should emphasize more efficient transit better serving the transit-dependent and should increase funding of active transportation — i.e. walking and biking.
Interesting. The article and letter don’t go as far as recommending that the potential ballot measure only fund transit and active transpo but certainly suggests that projects tilt that way. Mandatory cautionary note: Metro has made no decision yet whether to go forward with a long-range plan update and possible ballot measure. The agency’s Board of Directors are scheduled to consider it next spring.
Perhaps the most interesting sentence from Investing in Place:
Yet, we also note that these investments have not translated into mode split increases: from 1980 – 2012 Los Angeles transit use as the share of commute trips has remained around seven percent.
In plain English, the money spent on transit in L.A. County thus far hasn’t resulted in a greater percentage of people using transit. Seven percent of people commuting by transit is better than the national average of about five percent but, as many of you know, it’s a number below places such as New York, Chicago, San Francisco, etc., that have expansive bus and rail systems. Metro’s 87 miles of rail is relatively new, beginning in 1990 with the opening of the Blue Line.
How do some other counties with big cities stack up when it comes to commuting by transit?:
Cook County (Chicago): 17.8 percent
New York County: 58.7 percent
San Francisco County: 32.6 percent
I think it’s worth noting those numbers but I also think comparing Los Angeles County to such places is a little apples-to-oranges. Los Angeles County, for example, is three times the size of sprawling Cook County. Our county stretches from the high desert north of Lancaster all the way south to Long Beach and from the Pacific Ocean — including Catalina Island — all the way to Claremont. A big chunk of our county includes the undeveloped Angeles National Forest, Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area and other open space.
We’re big and we’re sprawling. I don’t expect L.A. County to have New York County type numbers when it comes to commuting on transit.
But here’s my question. If we’re at seven percent, getting to 10 percent certainly seems feasible. What do you think that would take?
The Chicago ‘El’ totals about 103 miles with some of the oldest sections dating to the 1890s — back when the streetcars here were just starting!
Trains are great but what L.A. needs are bus lanes (Zocalo Public Square)
In the run-up to the forum Wednesday night with Metro CEO Phil Washington, Zocalo asks seven transpo experts what’s missing from L.A.’s transportation vision?
The answers tend toward the familiar and probably won’t knock you from your seat. But planner Steve Boland sums it up well:
If you build it, they won’t just come. More trains alone won’t lead to the transformative change L.A. is crying out for. Buses will need their own lanes, and it will have to become easier for cyclists and pedestrians to get to stops and stations. Because space is limited, this won’t be a win-win.
Yep, win-wins will be hard to find until someone discovers the Transportation Money Tree Orchard or the bounds of physical space can be collapsed to create Your Personal Traffic Lane — a lane that you and only you can use whether on foot, bike, bus, car or some heretofore unknown Mode of Transportation! I did horrible in high school physics, but I’m sure this can easily be done, assuming a few blackholes can be harnessed, towed across the galaxy and tethered to the 101 freeway corridor to create room for a few more lanes.
Don’t let the name fool you: a black hole is anything but empty space. Rather, it is a great amount of matter packed into a very small area – think of a star ten times more massive than the Sun squeezed into a sphere approximately the diameter of New York City.
Before you laugh, an excerpt:
One scenario described in the patent is essentially an Amazon Locker on wheels, installed inside or attached to the outside of a bus, train or other form of transit. Customers who ride a particular route regularly could opt to have a package delivered to their preferred bus, to retrieve while they’re riding. Or those in a specific area could choose to pick up their package at a bus stop, receiving a text message when their item is approaching.
That latter option could be especially useful in rural villages and other areas “where carriers for delivering items are rare or prohibitively expensive,” the filing says.
In other words, let’s take two things people absolutely love — public transit and the Postal Service — and combine them! Just like a Reese’s Cup!
You got transit on my post office! You got post office on my transit!
Okay, seriously for a moment. I think the big hiccup here is security — we’ve all seen how unattended bags can literally shut down transit and I don’t know how you get around those concerns. As for delivery to rural areas — assuming this is referring to so-called Third World places — the idea seems noble but fraught with challenges.
Hey, speaking of Amazon…did you read that multi-page article in the NYT on Sunday about their work environment? To boil it down to one of the many not-so-flattering anecdotes: Amazon has a secondary email system that allows workers to file praise and complaints about their colleagues to managers. The info can then be cut-and-pasted straight into an employee’s file. How efficient!
Seriously for another moment: a quarter-century into my so-called career, I can’t imagine how anyone would get job done if there was a special “employee praise/gripe” system. Although I’m guessing some of my former newspaper colleagues would have finally had motivation to write something. Burn!
From the Dept. of Fair is Fair: Amazon chief Jeff Bezos declined an interview request with the NYT but says in an exciting new employee memo that the workplace described is unrecognizable to him. Hmm.
Quasi-related: I’ve attended two all-hands meetings by Metro CEO Phil Washington and in both meetings Phil began by saying that he expects civility in the workplace.
The bike-share boom (CityLab)
Fun graphic that goes back to the 1960s to trace the origins of bike-share.
Quasi-related: CityLab hyphenates ‘bike-share,’ while Metro and others say it’s one word as in ‘bikeshare.’ The LAT prefers ‘bike-share’ while I saw both ‘bike share’ and ‘bike-share’ in NYT stories. Any grammarians want to weigh in? We should settle this before Metro’s bikeshare/bike-share/bike share launches in DTLA next year!
Is the drought killing the giant sequoias (Valley Public Radio)
Put aside the inaccurate clickbaitiness of the headline (the story doesn’t mention any sequoias that have died) and there’s an interesting story: researchers believe they are seeing some signs of drought-related stress in some giant sequoias and want to know more. As noted, many of the sequoias are hundreds of years old and have certainly withstood some wicked droughts before.
I think the bigger question goes beyond drought and involves how the giant sequoias and their relatives, the coastal redwoods, withstand changes in moisture that could — emphasis could — come with climate change. BTW, if climate change concerns you and you are looking for a way to reduce your carbon footprint, try walking, biking and/or taking transit instead of driving alone. As mentioned in the past, I’d love to see the reduce-your-carbon-footprint be a big part of the pro transit message in the U.S., a country which is No. 2 in worldwide carbon emissions.