Art of Transit:
Newsflash!: A bill that would allow Metro to put a sales tax measure, SB 767, before voters in a future election was approved by the Assembly on Friday. The bill must be signed by Gov. Jerry Brown to become law. Metro is in the midst of considering an update to its long-range transportation plan and a potential ballot measure to raise money for transportation projects. A decision on the long-range plan and potential ballot measure are scheduled to be made in the first half of 2016.
For your reading consideration: Agendas have been posted for Metro Board of Director committee meetings that take place Wednesday and Thursday at Metro HQ. Here they are: Finance, Planning, Construction, System Safety and Executive Management. There are links to Metro staff reports and other materials within each agenda.
Summer Games 2024, anyone? New video below from the committee in charge of Los Angeles’ Olympic bid. And, yes, transit L.A.-style gets a cameo.
Dept. of Twitter:
Metro exploring new options for West Santa Ana branch (Urbanize LA)
There’s a new Metro staff report out about the Measure R transit project being studied for southeastern Los Angeles County. The report — a technical study — looks at different issues and challenges involving rail routes that were looked at in an earlier, more preliminary analysis. This study looks at several routes with Union Station or Little Tokyo serving as the northern terminus and Artesia in the south.
The Urbanize post does a nice job summing up the many routes studied and some of the key issues and stats — the study, for example, finds that the option that runs east of the L.A. River and the one that would terminate at Little Tokyo should not go forward due to issues involving cost, ridership or feasibility.
Here’s the thing: I need to stress that it’s very early in the process for this project. And there’s this: the rail options in this study have an estimated cost range of $3.8 billion to $4.6 billion. The project is due to receive $240 million from Measure R, meaning there’s a considerable funding gap that would have to be filled before anything rail-wise is built.
Still, it’s certainly an interesting project. The project would serve an area that may not be as sexy as the Westside, but has considerable industry, jobs and residents. Ridership projections are, of course, part of the always difficult exercise of predicting the future. Still, the estimates in the report are considerable. More technical studies are to come. Stay tuned.
Why futurism has a cultural blindspot (Nautilus)
Speaking of predicting the future, from this interesting post by Tom Vanderbilt:
This over- and under-predicting is embedded into how we conceive of the future. “Futurology is almost always wrong,” the historian Judith Flanders suggested to me, “because it rarely takes into account behavioral changes.” And, she says, we look at the wrong things: “Transport to work, rather than the shape of work; technology itself, rather than how our behavior is changed by the very changes that technology brings.” It turns out that predicting who we will be is harder than predicting what we will be able to do.
As Vanderbilt notes, we mostly get around today in the same ways that we did decades ago. And perhaps for decades more — the projects we discuss in HWR mostly involve exactly what we already use: buses, trains, cars, bikes and feet.
Metro celebrates new El Monte bike hub, first of several (Streetsblog LA)
Pics and info about the grand opening yesterday of Metro’s first bike hub, which offers a secure place to lock your bike and a shop where cyclists can repair bikes and purchase any parts needed. As the post notes, “securing a bike there requires pre-registration and costs $60 for a whole year, $12 for 30 days, or $5 for a week.” Bike racks that are free to use will remain in place in front of the station.
Washington Metro riders form union to address concerns (Washington Post)
Service reductions, deadly accidents, long commutes and crowding have led some riders of the Washington Metro subway system (trains also run above ground) to form a group whose goal is to secure a seat on the agency’s Board of Directors. Interesting.
Big transit agencies serve the interests of riders in different ways. Los Angeles Metro, for example, has Service Councils to help connect rider concerns with appropriate staff — and give riders a chance to weigh in on proposals such as scheduling and bus routing. Our 13-member Board is comprised of elected officials or their appointees.
Denver, meanwhile, takes a very different approach: members of the RTD Board are directly elected by area voters. In other words, RTD Board Members don’t need to first win election to another office. The Washington Metro Board is a different animal: with a mix of elected officials and other government officials from across the Washington metro area.
What structure is best? Feel free to debate. My hunch is there is no perfect formula — more important, I think, is that rider concerns are consistently forwarded to whoever is in charge. That’s one reason I like our social media streams (in particular Twitter): anyone can see what Metro riders and customers are talking about.
A new video by the California High-Speed Rail Authority shows a big parking lot near the proposed Bakersfield station. Many of the same issues raised by CityLab were also discussed by our readers in this Source post last week about future development adjacent and near the NoHo Red Line and Orange Line stations.
Things to read while sitting/standing/stuck on transit: Gregg Easterbrook’s always entertaining Tuesday Morning Quarterback column has moved to the New York Times’ Upshot blog this season. It’s shorter than in years past and there’s a noticeable absence of non-football items that made the column, I think, such an interesting read. Nonetheless, his football observations are fun and he does a great job of poking holes in conventional coaching wisdom. It’s quite amazing how often NFL coaches get it wrong, especially when it comes to doing the right thing on third and fourth down. Thus far, HWR’s unofficial favorite team this season, the Buffalo Bills, escapes the wrath of TMQ.
Categories: Transportation Headlines