How We Roll, May 11: will Expo2 change the course of human history?!

Things to listen to whilst transiting: 

Art of Transit: 

The bridges that carry the 210 and Colorado Boulevard, respectively, over the Arroyo Seco in Pasadena. Photo by Steve Hymon.

The bridges that carry the 210 and Colorado Boulevard, respectively, over the Arroyo Seco in Pasadena. Taken during a walk with my pit bull (see above item). Photo by Steve Hymon.

Watch the first passenger train travel from downtown L.A. to Santa Monica in 60 years (Gizmodo) 

An eastbound Expo Line test train with the towers of Westwood in the background. Photo by Steve Hymon/Metro.

An eastbound Expo Line test train with the towers of Westwood in the background. Photo by Steve Hymon/Metro.

Actually, 63 years. Nice piece by Alissa Walker, who admits she got a little choked up as the train mades its way toward Santa Monica. She even has video to prove it, including the inevitable clips of media-interviewing-media.

And what did Alissa think? Excerpt:

As you can see on some of the schedules and timetables from back in the day, the Air Line advertised travel times of a little over an hour from downtown LA to Santa Monica. Metro, LA’s transit authority, is saying right now that the Expo Line will take about 50 minutes to travel the route when it opens. This is a frustrating part of LA’s car-centric reality—although the train travels on a dedicated right-of-way and above some busy streets, at several places along the route the train makes crossings where it must be stopped for vehicular traffic. However, as several people explain in the video, travel times will improve as Metro is able to collect information that will allow it to optimize traffic flow.

She also wonders how the limited parking situation will impact ridership and praises officials in Los Angeles County for playing the “long game” when it comes to building a transit network. If you watch the video long enough, she never quite says that the Expo Line will change The Course of Entire Human History, but she does suggest that it’s a Mighty Big Step Forward For Our Lil’ Corner of The Planet.

Tip of the cap: At the 39:00 mark of the video Alissa interviews L.A. Council Member and Metro Board Member Mike Bonin, who says that credit for the Expo Line doesn’t go to the folks on the media train — i.e. his pol colleagues — but to the rail activists that fought for the project for many years.

L.A. Mayor on Expo Line reaching Santa Monica and defending area’s transit system (NBC 4) 

If the embedded video doesn’t work, hit the link above.

Universal bike path on a five-year plan (BikingInL.A.)

In Feb. 2008, I co-wrote a story in the LAT about the prospect of Universal Studios allowing a bike path along the L.A. River to go through its property. The bike path is a smidge closer to reality, although could still take five years to complete, reports BikinginL.A.

Being suitably pessimistic, let’s say it takes five years. 2016 + 5 = 2021; 2021-2008 = 13. Meaning that a relatively short segment of bike path could be complete only 13 years after I wrote about it. And keep in mind that the 2008 LAT story was suitably late to the party — at that time, efforts to get the path built had long been underway.

Fun nugget from 2008, btw:

One bike advocate said Universal executives told him they feared that people would use the path to lob unsolicited screenplays onto the studio’s nearby production lot — something that apparently happens at other spots when a Universal film scores big at the box office.

Quasi-related: Attentive readers may recall that I recently accused Universals’ “Jurassic World” of being the single worst movie in movie history. In the sequel, I propose that the dinosaurs escape to Los Angeles (they already visited San Diego) and learn to ride giant-sized bicycles while various underwritten characters scream at them for screwing up traffic.

Number of homeless rises in L.A. County (Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority)

Homeless living under the 110 freeway in the South L.A. on a recent night. Photo by Steve Hymon.

Homeless living under the 110 freeway in the South L.A. on a recent night. Photo by Steve Hymon.

This was widely reported last week. Journalism Enthusiasts may want to check out how the official news release handles the news. Hint: it rhymes with “berry.”

Metro ridership April numbers (

The latest estimates are in — keep in mind they are based on numbers collected over the prior several months. The Gold Line — thanks to the Azusa extension — helped buoy the rail numbers, which were about the same as April 2015. Bus numbers slipped.

It will be interesting in a few months to see how the Expo and Gold extensions impact the numbers — I think they’ll help lift the entire system. The Blue Line remains down (perhaps because of ongoing maintenance work) and that probably also impacts the Red/Purple Line numbers (many folks transfer from the Blue Line to Red/Purple).

Why the nation’s crumbling subways may finally get some attention this election (LAT)

Throat clear. Not all them are crumbling, btw. The short answer to headline is because the subway in Washington D.C. is crumbling and D.C. is home to the nation’s largest herd of politicians.

Speaking of the Washington Metro, the agency just released its plan to repair the subway in the next year. That plan includes significant closures of stretches of track and service reductions. Here’s the agency GM explaining it:

Moscow’s huge Metro expansion is actually ahead of schedule (Citylab)

A station in the Moscow Metro. Photo by Martin Deutsch, via Flickr creative commons.

A station in the Moscow Metro. Photo by Martin Deutsch, via Flickr creative commons.

Well, as long as you don’t count the paying of workers part of the project. Not shocking to me — President Petrov seems like a no-nonsense sort who takes what he wants, Claire included.


16 replies

  1. Regarding ridership data, I was surprised to see that Gold Line ridership dropped almost five percent (from 52,672 in March to 50,219 in April) from the first month of service on the extension. There’s no way to tell from these numbers whether this reduction is all for the new segment, or whether ridership on the entire route has slipped. This could be a reaction to the parking problems and peak hour crowding issues (i.e. not a good first impression for some riders), or it could be simply that the novelty wore off quickly.

    • The Gold Line ridership figures are just plain awful. Less than 2,300 new riders vs. Feb., the last month before the 11 mile extension opened. It looks like all that the extension has done is take riders away from the previous terminus at Sierra Madre where the enormous parking structure is now less than half full to points East where there is less parking. Since people East of Pasadena don’t really use the bus much and are trying to access the line only via car and Foothill Transit is more interested in competing with Metro rather than complementing bus service, it looks like a dismal failure so far.

  2. Another ridership observation: Expo ridership is down more than five percent for the past two months (from 30,785 in February to 29,047 in April). I’m not at all surprised given the reduction in service from three car trains to two car trains for the past two months. This can also explain some of the recent ridership reduction on the Blue Line, since some of their peak period trains have also been cut to two car consists.
    Finally, the April ridership data doesn’t include North Hollywood to Pasadena Route 501, and the March data for this route has also disappeared from the database.

  3. Are you quoting House of Card’s crudely fictionalized versions of a Russian president and American FLOTUS?

    Also, bus riders, the vast majority of LA Metro’s riding constituency will most probably continue to decline in numbers because central LA (the densest area in LA County) bus service continues to operate at insufficient frequency, capacity, and timeliness, issues that continue unaddressed and I won’t speculate why other than to say as an example last early Saturday afternoon I wanted to ride #16 bus from Vermont to Larchmont and found that the bus was extremely crowded and the buses were bunched—three in a row, I took the first bus which left people behind it was so crowded and it creeped so slowly due to its increasing load factor that I exited by Normandie and chose to walk on a more placid back street to Larchmont. I’m a 30 year old class-conscious and socially aware person (or millennial) and the message from the operation of Metro buses that receive no priority on Venice despite being branded as Rapid or not having bus lanes on high usage bus lines or having two rail stations in Koreatown that essentially receive no nighttime service makes me feel foolish for choosing Metro over a car, a lot. This realization about declining riders on LA Metro has yet to spurn any innovation or an effective response yet other than to wait for the next rail extension to bump rider numbers up even if temporarily when the bulk of the system is suffering from service cuts, whether formal or informal (cough, nighttime Red Line every 20 minutes, cough), or general unpleasantry such as the lack of sun/rain protection, mixed flow traffic problems, etc.

    It could be construed to be shortsighted to accept a fictionalized Russian leader’s impending expansion success with cynicism when our own very real leaders in DC are struggling with routine maintenance and in LA giving up on delivering adequate basic bus service.

    • I feel your pain brother. Bus service on Western (207/757) Is just as bad, and the problem is worse because the routes are more popular. Traffic is crushing and the buses are left to fend for themselves in it, leading to huge delays and pile-ups. This is on top of the buses operating at a mere 10-minute frequency during rush hour… Ive had to wait 15 minutes for a bus, rapid or local, at 4:15 pm.

  4. As an Expo rider since it opened I have experienced almost daily delays from 23rd st. – 7th+Metro during rush hour. Sharing a track with the Blue Line seems to be a major problem. What should take 5-7 minutes can take 15+. This section has always been slow, but at this point I don’t think Metro can do anything about it. A 50 minute ride from SM to 7th ain’t gonna happen during rush hour, but it is a good target to shoot for. However, even at 60 minutes it would be faster than driving.

    • Once all the westside riders start using the expo line, the pressure will really build on LADOT to gove the trains signal priority on flower. Hopefully it will force them to.

  5. Terrible gold line numbers. Crazy that central LA, which could develop a critical mass of rail riders, is not receiving better priority in the new metro tax. The fact that the gold line is being extended even further before the west hollywood line or continuing the purple line past the VA is mind-boggling. Rail projects do not make sense for all of Los Angeles county–focus on the densest areas first and if you need to throw some cash at some of the other areas for other projects, go ahead and do it.

    • Hi Andrew;

      I disagree that the Gold Line numbers are bad. The line had its second best month ever and its best Saturday and Sunday ridership. As I’ve mentioned before, I don’t think it’s great to judge these lines by ridership in the first few months. The March numbers were great but were also probably helped by the publicity surrounding the opening and the curiosity factor. I ride the Gold Line to and from work and I can assure that you there are no shortage of riders — I’m sure anyone going northbound out of Union Station between 6 and 6:30 agrees.

      Steve Hymon
      Editor, The Source

      • Hi Steve,

        Thanks for responding. True that the line improved from April 2015, but that’s really not the key metric here. There was an 11 mile extension and only an increase of about 8,000 daily (weekday) boardings. If Expo Phase 2 opens and there is only an increase of 8,000, I think everyone will be gravely disappointed. How many additional riders would there have been if a new 11 mile line was built through central LA? Surely more than 8,000 daily riders. That is the metric we need to be focusing on–did the resources we spend increase the number of riders the most it could have? I don’t think anyone with a straight face could say “yes.”

        This is why it is disappointing that the new metro tax will devote significant resources to lines that will have sub-par performance compared to building out central LA. I understand there are political considerations, but this is an opportunity to transform the city and by focusing on less dense areas we are missing that chance. We need interconnectivity of the lines and the lines spread out over a smaller area. That’s how all great intra-city rail lines were first developed.


        • Gold Line extension is 11.5 miles but six new stations. The Expo extension is 6.6 miles with seven new stations. Very different environments. I suggest riding the Gold Line northbound from Union Station on any weekday at rush hour and see if you still think ridership is disappointing. To repeat: I don’t think it’s wise to judge projects until they have been open for a while.

          Steve Hymon
          Editor, The Source

      • Steve, do you actually understand the data before you spew out “Gold Line had its second best month ever…”? OF COURSE it did, we just added over 11 miles to it, along with 6 new stations! What you fail to mention is that ridership this last month (April) went DOWN from the previous, March, when the extension opened. And guess what? It now shows that the extension only added just over 2,200 riders!!! Let that sink in. We spent over $1 billion in scarce capital funds and we got 2,200 additional boardings for it! That’s almost HALF A MILLION per additional boarding! Half a million dollars to attract one additional boarding (or “rider”, if you want to believe each boarding is a new rider).
        Even in the smallest town with rail service, that would be considered an epic failure. Andrew is completely right. RAIL is only efficient and effective in DENSE areas – you have to have POPULATION AND JOBS to make rail work! You could put a rail line down ANY major street between Downtown and Westwood and you would IMMEDIATELY have tens of thousands of people riding it (just based on existing bus ridership alone!). It does NOT make sense to put rail in sparsely populated, sprawling areas where few people or jobs are within walking distance of the stations. Stop spinning things (“second best month!”) and look at the hard facts and figures and data.

  6. Gee Steve, I don’t see an answer to my question. Are you to embarrassed to answer a question about where there is a real problem the MTA refuses to address?

  7. Hi folks;

    I try to ensure that everyone’s opinions are heard and I’m pretty liberal about enforcing our comments policy. That said, some of you are pushing the envelope when it comes to civility and leaving many comments on the same blog post. As a friendly reminder, here’s our comments policy:

    Our readers have spoken: about 70% of those who took our recent poll said they wanted The Source open to comments. We plan to start allowing comments in the next few days — as soon as a few tech issues are settled.

    Of course, all blogs have policies governing their comments section. I went through a few government blogs and listened to some suggestions from readers and came up with the following for The Source. I wanted something that provides room for dissent but also protects Metro and Source readers from those who may abuse the comments board.

    Comments policy

    We want to hear what you have to say about transportation in Los Angeles County and we encourage a thoughtful, civil and entertaining discussion by readers on our comment board. It’s fine to disagree with our posts and other readers, but we will insist on civility. Here are the rules:

    • All comments will be approved by Metro before they’re posted. We’ll do so during business hours on most weekdays.

    •No profanity, personal attacks, obscenities or pornographic material will be allowed. Nor will we tolerate harassment of readers and Source writers, impersonation, intimidation or abuse. And no advertisements.

    • As is the case with Metro’s Facebook comment policy, we ask that comments stay on topic and be brief. We may choose to limit the number of times any one person can comment per Source post.

    • We will not post comments with false or unsubstantiated allegations or material that we believe is inaccurate or false. Nor will we post comments that we believe could compromise public safety or Metro operations.

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    Steve Hymon
    Editor, The Source

  8. I was just wondering if anything is being done to re-zone the areas in the SGV served by the extended Gold Line station. Shouldn’t that be a requirement to getting the station in the first place?