How We Roll, June 2: searching for meaning in the Expo Line & catching up

Good morning from The Source satellite office in Mason, Ohio, where I’m on parental-unit duty this week. In between trips to Target and various other traffic-choked arterials and strip malls in suburbs that were once perfectly good farm land, I’ve squeezed in a couple of walks on the really nice walk/bike path along the Little Miami River.

The benefits of being east of the 100th Meridian: it’s so lush! On the downside, the Greater Cincinnati area seems determined to sprawl its way north to Columbus, then across Lake Erie, through the Canadian Arctic, across the backside of the globe (or frontside, depending on your POV), up through South America, then across the heart of Dixie until it meets the Cincy sprawl that is also chewing its way across what used to be the Northern Kentucky countryside.


Meanwhile, the powers-that-be’s gamble that the Cincy airport would become a major travel hub, appears to have been a Poor Bet:

On the plus side, no lines to use the restroom!

On the plus side, no lines to use the restroom! This was taken at 10:20 p.m. Saturday night. Oh, and there’s a whole other terminal even emptier than this one. Attention Rick Grimes & Co: this doesn’t appear a bad place to hold up for a while and it’s not that far from Georgia — but I bet those Tennessee hill rotters have an especially nasty bite.

Don’t even get me started about the ongoing controversy involving the Cincy Zoo and one of its former gorillas. I’ll only repeat what I’ve said before: it wouldn’t shock me if the apes ultimately get their day in court. Need some light beach reading about how it may all go down? Try “Spillover” by David Quammen.

Things to read whilst transiting:12 new books we’re reading this summer” in the NYT. The Diane Arbus bio looks interesting and is getting good reviews elsewhere. As does “Underground Airlines,” about what modern day America would look like if the Civil War had never happened (short answer: it would look very, very badly, according to the preview).

Los Angeles tries to prove that it doesn’t necessarily need the car (New Yorker)

Expo over Bundy. Photo by Steve Hymon/Metro.

Expo over Bundy. Photo by Steve Hymon/Metro.

An L.A.-based writer goes for a ride from DTLA to Santa Monica on the newly-extended Expo Line. Palms becomes “the Palms” but I liked this graph:

A few years ago, I overheard a friend offering advice to someone who was planning a move to Los Angeles: “Make sure you love your car, because you’re going to spend most of your time in it.” That doesn’t have to be the case anymore. The Metro isn’t perfect—it took an hour and forty minutes to get from my home in Hollywood to the Santa Monica pier, a trip that might have taken an hour by car, even in rush-hour traffic—but its expansion is chipping away at the city’s solo-driving culture. Ride-sharing services have dramatically changed the migration patterns of city dwellers (Eastsiders brunch in Venice, polishing off bottles of rosé before ordering Ubers home), and that “Swingers” scene in which the guys chug up into the hills in separate cars in search of the night’s next great party is as anachronistic as the three-Martini lunch.

There’s some very mild adult language in the article. It’s not all flattering — the speed of Expo gets a mention — but I think the writer grasped what’s most important: linking DTLA to SaMo seems like an obvious thing to do. I suspect in a few years, a lot of people in our region will wonder how we ever did without the new line.

Op-ed: Why L.A.’s $120-billion transit plan is in danger of tanking (LAT)

A wonky but important issue involving a bill by State Sen. Tony Mendoza (D-Artesia) that would expand the Metro Board of Directors from 13 voting members to 21, including two members appointed by the state Legislature — meaning Sacramento officials who represent far-away districts could have a say in L.A. County transpo decisions. The Metro Board are the ultimate deciders when it comes to the agency’s big decisions involving funding and projects.

The op-ed by former Board Members Richard Katz and Zev Yaroslavsky says that’s a bad idea because it move too much power from the core part of the county — including the city of Los Angeles — to the county’s outlying areas. Excerpt:

As former Metro board members with 30 years of service between us, we know that no board structure is perfect. We also know that if the power on the Metro board isn’t balanced, the small city representatives would be tempted to assert total control over the region’s transit planning and spending decisions. Los Angeles, which is undeniably the region’s economic and employment center, would be made largely irrelevant in Metro’s deliberations. Transit decisions would be based on who had the most political muscle rather than what is in the best interest of the region as a whole.

I think the public policy decision here is does the bill really increase representation across the county or would it make it harder for anything to get accomplished with more fighting along geographic lines? It’s worth noting that such geo-fighting in the 1960s and ’70s led to four consecutive ballot measures being rejected by voters, the reason why our region we got such a late start on building rail transit.

One other thing worth noting: the current Board does not include a rider’s representative. The Mendoza bill would not change that.

Court hearing is inconclusive on Beverly Hills vs Metro subway (Streetsblog L.A.)

Reminder for those who have decided to devote their brain cells to other matters: there were two lawsuits brought by the city of Beverly Hills and the BHUSD, who were unhappy the Purple Line Extension would tunnel under the Beverly Hills High School campus to reach a station in Century City. The state lawsuit is over and was decided in Metro’s favor. The federal lawsuit — because the project is set to receive federal funds — is still being litigated.

The gist of what is still being hashed out: to what degree does Metro need to re-do parts of the environmental studies for the second phase of the project (between Wilshire/La Cienega and Century City)? The agency continues to argue that vacating the studies could jeopardize a big federal grant for section 2 and delay construction. Stay tuned. And if you actually just read the last two paragraphs, I reward you with a Mental Beer.

Metro awards contract for environmental study and design of phase 1 of Rail to River bike path (Streetsblog L.A.)

A stretch of the old tracks along Slauson Avenue that would be converted to a walk and bike path. Photo by Steve Hymon/Metro.

A stretch of the old tracks along Slauson Avenue that would be converted to a walk and bike path. Photo by Steve Hymon/Metro.

OMG OMG OMG, actual project news! I totally overlooked this at last week’s Board meeting (sorry!): the Board approved a $2-million contract to begin the required studies for a bike path between the Crenshaw/LAX Line’s Florence/West Station and the Blue Line’s Slauson Station.

This is good news. The old BNSF rail line known as the ‘Harbor Subdivision’ is owned by Metro and is largely abandoned. Travel by bike in South L.A. is considerable and a street-separated bike path should really help folks get around without having to compete for road space with motor vehicles.

5 replies

  1. Is the path between the Crenshaw/LAX Line’s Florence/West Station and the Blue Line’s Slauson Station being studied for a possible line from LAX via the Green Line to a new line on Slauson then merge into the Blue Line that would lead to Union Station?

    • No. There was a study of the Harbor Subdivision a while ago but no project ever emerged from that study, nor is there any planned at this time. Rail will reach LAX via the Crenshaw/LAX Line and the automated people mover.

      Steve Hymon
      Editor, The Source

  2. Steve, the airport you are at (in Covington, Kentucky BTW) is a victim of the mergers and acquisition game that the airlines have been doing for years.

    Turns out Detroit was a better place for a hub after Delta bought Northwest.

    If you think the Cincinnati Airport looks empty, do check out the Continental gates at Cleveland, the America West gates at Columbus or the Piedmont gates at Dayton.

    The area is lucky it still has a going concern called Proctor and Gamble.

    • I will take the word for it as I do not wish at this time to visit Cleveland, Dayton and especially Columbus (moo!).

      Steve Hymon
      Editor, The Source

  3. MSP is another place amazingly dead on a Saturday evening. I was there at 6:30 PM once and there was hardly anyone around. As for Cleveland, well it’s the only rail transit system in Ohio, and it actually connects the airport to downtown. Cincinnati will have a DT streetcar soon. Don’t get me started about my current home of Columbus. At least the airport is a quick drive, but we need rail here. We hardly have bus service to the airport. We’re an overgrown college town trying to be like other more developed big cities…and IMHO failing at it.

    I enjoy the public transportation system in LA and SD. I use it as much as possible when I’m there.