How We Roll, Oct. 28: high-speed rail on track says CEO, L.A.'s most dangerous intersections

Arte de Día de los Muertas:


If you haven’t had the chance yet, make sure to take a stroll in  Grand Park through November 2 to check out the Day of the Dead altars. There are about 40 of them scattered throughout the park. Grand Park is accessible via the Metro Purple/Red Line Civic Center/Grand Park Station so it’s a quick and easy jaunt for those who work in or near downtown. Walking tours are being offered during the lunch hour this week.

A+ Metro Riders:

Letter to editor: bullet train project actually on track (Sacramento Bee)

After a number of media outlets reported that the California bullet train was already projected to be over budget and delayed, the CEO of the California High-Speed Rail Authority, Jeff Morales, responded via a letter to the editor in the Sacramento Bee.

In his letter, he argues that the project is making “steady progress” and that many of the existing construction contracts came in hundreds of millions under original estimates. He also addresses one of the latest concerns about the project: tunneling through mountain ranges — like the San Gabriel Mountains as reported by the L.A. Times. He says the project consists of a staff of world-leading tunneling experts who are “confident of [the Authority’s] ability to construct the needed tunnels.”

Why people don’t ride public transit in small cities (The Atlantic)

The new mayor of Nashville is hoping to alleviate the city’s traffic by building its transit network. The problem she faces — aside from the the lack of any dedicated transit funding source — is one facing many small to medium sized cities looking to wean themselves off complete automobile reliance. Excerpt:

Like most Americans outside the biggest cities, people in Nashville are accustomed to using their cars. According to Census data from 2009, fewer than 3 percent of workers in the Nashville metro area used public transit to commute to work, making the city less public-transit-friendly than Houston, Richmond, Memphis, Tampa, and Kansas City, to name a few.

In most metro areas of less than 1 million people (Nashville has roughly 659,000), just 1.5 percent to 2.5 percent of residents use transit, according to David Hartgen, a emeritus transportation professor at UNC Charlotte. Many of these places have tried to increase the share of their population that use transit, but few have succeeded.

Charlotte, North Carolina, is cited as an example of a city of comparable size that has invested in both transit and road infrastructure, which has resulted in slow rise of transit ridership. Meanwhile time stuck in traffic has also decreased.

The lesson perhaps is that it might be best to spend money on improving existing road infrastructure and bus service, instead of spending a billion or more on a rail line, at least at first. Transit planner and blogger Jarrett Walker points to Portland as an example that cities can follow to cultivate transit culture over time. Facing exceptional growth decades ago, the city limited road expansion, improved its bus system and as bus ridership climbed, it built its rail lines.

The most dangerous intersections in America (Quartz) 

Waze, the navigation app, has released the three most dangerous intersections for bicyclists and pedestrians in Los Angeles, San Fransisco and Boston.

Accident data provided by LADOT shows that the most dangerous intersections in Los Angeles are Eagle Rock Blvd and W Avenue 41 in Eagle Rock, W. Olympic Blvd. and Bonnie Brae St. in Pico-Union and W. Temple St. and N Beaudry Ave near downtown L.A..

The L.A. Times also ran a story this summer highlighting the most dangerous intersections for pedestrians in L.A. County.

This smart bike light sends an emergency text if you crash — and helps cities plan better (Fast Company)

Even bike lights are getting the smart tech treatment. The “smart light” in this article can use sensors to detect a variety of things that are useful to bicyclists — whether that means texting an alert when your bike is being tampered with or making the light brighter as you approach an intersection.

Perhaps the most promising aspect of the technology is that the data it gathers could also be used to help planners and city officials make bicycling better — and safer — for bicyclists. For example, some of the data that could be compiled include intersections where near-misses are common and road conditions. Even better: the sensor data could also potentially be used for bicyclist traffic signal prioritization.

A PSA about biking to work that needs no translation (Streetsblog USA)

As someone who walks, bike or takes transit to work everyday, the thought of driving to work can ocassionaly sound appealing — gasp! Yes, the grass is always greener and all that — though I think mostly it’s misguided nostalgia for NPR or Kevin and Bean — but this Spanish PSA is an excellent reminder of the daily grind commuting by car really is.

Things to read on transit: With Halloween and the Day of the Dead fast approaching, it’s a suitable time to recommend this New York Times piece published last week on the process and all the people that are involved when a person dies in New York City. It’s a long read, but worth it.

About 50,000 people pass away in New York City every year, and the process to close out all of the deceased’s loose ends can either go quickly, or take months or years depending on how much information is available. Those who live alone are the most difficult. The article follows the postmortem proceedings for one New Yorker who passed away alone and in relative obscurity in his apartment in Queens. The author interviews public administrators who handled his estate and contacted next of kin, the apartment cleaners, the estate auctioneers, the mortician, and many more who have a hand in taking care of his estate, all the while piecing together his life through those who were touched by his death.

Recent How We Rolls:

Oct. 27: melting ice and record heat, Metro weighs Metrolink station relocation, 710 opposition at Board meeting, Chewbacca arrested in Ukraine.

Oct. 26: Can American reinvent its infrastructure? It has before.

Oct. 23: Social media reaction to announcement of Foothill Gold Line opening, Denver’s rail line to airport set to open in April, funny things to listen to while riding transit.

Oct. 21: Back to the future edition, i.e. what Los Angeles County transit officials of the past century got right and wrong about your transportation future.

Oct. 20: CicLAvia gives the air a good scrubbing, L.A. to legalize locking bikes to parking meters, millenials versus the driving habits of Americans.

Metro is on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. Joe is on Twitter.

13 replies

  1. Jeff Morales needs a better P.R. All that emai….I mean essay/article says is “Hes wrong. I’ve got proof. Trust me. smell ya later..”
    2bn Along the 99 means jack to a guy in L.A.

    • Quite the contrary as Morales showed how current contracts have come under budget and real work is taking place, which isn’t really reported in the news media. Meanwhile the LA Times article bashed CAHSR on potential future problems, which is no different than saying the future is all going to work out.

      As for the project beginning in the Central Valley. Well it is a state project not an LA project, and this is the center of the State. Just saying it isn’t my neighborhood so it doesn’t matter comes off a little self centered.

      • Matt, Hi.

        While I do live in L.A. it meaning jack to the guy in L.A. refers to the author of the L.A. Times article. My geography is great, I also don’t see any evidence in that three maybe fourish paragraph essay about things coming under budget.

        “Morales showed how current contracts have come under budget and real work is taking place, ” If so, where?

        Thank you for the nice banter though.

      • Real Transit Rider,

        The initial contracts coming in under budget is a fact. Do you really want him to attach the contracts in his letter for you and do you need him to attach pictures of work taking place in the Central Valley in his letter? These things have already taken place and aren’t disputed.

      • Hi Matt,

        Like any unfinished project, the final numbers are not in. Do I expect proof from a CEO who is essentially asking for $68bn+ to create one of the most ambitious projects in the nation to back his words with facts and display? Yes; which is why I said Morales needs a P.R. person. Did I ask for the initial contract? Did the L.A. Times writer? No, but if Morales is supposed to be writing something that is matter of fact, well, it kinda helps credibility. So that being said, draw straws all you’d like, but if Morales expects to maintain public trust, he’d (or his P.R. team) better come correct. At this stage that article is hot air, and if the info is so easily accessible and dear to him, he’d have put it in black an white in his email.

        If you can park a replica train in at the capital, you can supply data instead rattling of numbers; one being a highway designation.
        Last one from me. Cheers.

  2. The problem with starting by “improving existing road infrastructure and bus service” is that buses don’t capture people’s imagination.

    When the Blue Line was being built, the naysayers were saying that nobody in his right mind would ride a trolley through Watts; that it would be plagued by gang violence; that it would be cheaper to simply pay the few people who actually wanted to ride it to drive the freeways instead.

    And what happened? Within the first few years, every station on the line had to be expanded to handle 3-car consists.

    The Red Line (anybody else remember when the line to Hollywood was considered the branch line, and the current Purple Line was considered the main line) was derided as a “subway to nowhere,” and yet soon, it too was frequently packed to standing room only.

    People “joyride” (legally) urban rail all the time. My fall vacation this year, during my last day in Chicago, after I’d long-since “broken even” on my 7-day pass, I took a round-trip joyride on the “L,” just to get a quick photograph of the Jacob Watts “Moose Bubblegum Bubble” mural, just south of the Loop. And in Philadelphia, later in that same vacation, I spent two tokens and a buck in surcharges just to joyride the Norristown High Speed Line. And of course, the Metro frequently offers free days, tailor-made for joyriders, when new lines first open. And of course, it’s Cable Car joyriders, paying $6 for a one-way ticket, who subsidize the locals (and more experienced tourists) who buy passes, and ride Cable Cars for transportation.

    Has anybody here ever heard of anybody joyriding (in the sense of riding it just for the sake of riding it, NOT in the sense of fare evasion) a BUS?

    • “Joyriding” a train loses its appeal quickly just like a bus when it becomes a tiresome daily routine.

      You can see this all too well in cities where commuting by train is the norm, not the exception. Everyone is silent, not very chatting and just simply want to go wherever they want to go.

      A train is a train, nothing more, nothing less. It’s not some magical ride that whisks you away to happy land.

      • I am utterly shocked that a culture with a well-deserved reputation for being reserved, quiet and polite in public would ride trains in a quiet manner.

      • yea your right but nobody’s trying to make the train or the bus the only mode of trasportation. I think the point is to diversify our modes to get a more balanced system and avoid both a packed train or a packed freeway etc…

      • “I think the point is to diversify our modes to get a more balanced system and avoid both a packed train or a packed freeway etc…”

        I hear “balanced system” all the time but, realistically that will eventually crumble as well. Population growth with higher densities can reach to levels where even driving cars and utilizing mass transit still begets traffic jams and overcrowding.

        Tokyo maybe known for it’s excellent and on time transit system, that doesn’t mean their streets are devoid of cars either.

        Another example, NYC. The streets of Manhattan are full of cars, and at the same time, their subway is also crowded.

        If you ask me, LA is already becoming like this massive traffic jams still existing on our freeways and surface streets while Metro buses and trains are packed. Look at the Twitter comment above where the Metro 720 is completely crowded, the Red and Purple Lines are there with their own crowding, yet Wilshire Blvd. still has heavy traffic.

        There will never be a “balanced system.” The streets of LA will still be crowded no matter what transit projects are built. But it is a good investment to build mass transit as it provides another alternative. It will not replace cars, it will not get rid of traffic, it will only be an additional form of transportation. There is nothing magical or great about riding a train. Riding a crowded Metro Red Line is just as tiring as dealing with traffic jams on the 405 and 10.

  3. But it is often a completely pointless joyride that gets people to try a new transportation system for the first time (which is why the Metro frequently inaugurates a new rail line with one or more “free days” before fare collection begins). And (as I pointed out with Cable Cars) joyriders can end up subsidizing those who use a given line for transportation (and make no mistake: there ARE San Franciscans who still ride Cable Cars for transportation (just not at peak tourist hours). Climb aboard a Mason Car around 8 or 9 in the morning sometime, and see how many passengers present Clipper Cards for the conductor to scan (or, only a few years ago, before monthly passes went to Clipper, how many passengers used to flash the distinctive multicolored MUNI passes).

    In New York City, they say that “everybody rides the subway.” And sometimes, it seems like the entire city is trying to all get onto the same train.

    • “But it is often a completely pointless joyride that gets people to try a new transportation system for the first time (which is why the Metro frequently inaugurates a new rail line with one or more “free days” before fare collection begins).”

      Why give something away for free when you can start making money off of it from day one? I don’t see anyone getting a free entry to Disneyland, Universal Studios or Magic Mountain on their first visits there. I don’t see anyone getting a free airline ticket on their first plane ride.

      Metro desperately needs the money so why do something that makes them dig deeper in the hole? Giving it away for free for the first few days only amplifies into the people’s minds that transit should be free and that they don’t have to pay to ride Metro, feeding more to fare evasion at the expense of taxpayers.

      When the new Expo Phase II and Foothill Extension stations open, Metro should not be giving away free rides anymore. All it does is make suckers out of everyone else in the system who are paying to ride. Why should people from Santa Monica and Azusa get to ride the trains for free when everyone else is paying?

  4. “People “joyride” (legally) urban rail all the time. ”

    Really? Because I don’t and I have absolutely no interest in doing so and it’s definitely not something that you can convince others to do so either. You can’t say I don’t travel much or say “you’d change if you tried transit” because I have used them a lot (by nature of working in the IT industry, I travel to San Francisco and Taipei a lot) and sorry if I don’t share the same enthusiasm for it as you do.

    For me, transit is something that takes from point A to point B. I really don’t care the least bit about wasting my time going around the train with nothing else better to do.

    If I had free time on my visits, I’d just go straight back to the hotel and watch something on Hulu, Netflix, or Amazon.