How We Roll, June 7: still catching up

I finally made it back to L.A., albeit 12 hours later than expected due to a weather-related flight attendant shortage on Delta Airlines. I’m in catch-up mode, so please forgive if I seem even further behind the news cycle than usual….

Things to read whilst transiting: What makes Berlin a playground paradise. It helps that German parents have a lot more tolerance than risk that their helicoptering counterparts in the U.S., reports the Old Grey Lady.

Art of Transit: 

 

Metro’s Bike Share program debuts in DTLA on July 7. Here’s the announcement.

New Expo Line extension draws complaints that trains are too slow (KPCC)

We’ve noted that many of the articles about the new Expo extension to Santa Monica have noted the train’s speed between DTLA and DTSM. Many riders have complained that the trip — which should take 47-48 minutes — is taking longer due to service delays and other issues, such as getting stopped at traffic lights.

Officials from the L.A. Department of Transportation point out the street-running section in downtown L.A. is a section of track where the Expo Line shares track with the Blue Line, resulting in a train passing about every two minutes.

The Expo Line shares tracks with the Blue Line between 7th/Metro Center and the intersection of Washington and Flower. But the Expo Line’s street running segment — in which trains must obey the city of L.A.’s traffic signals — continues until Crenshaw Boulevard. It’s worth noting that this is on the first phase of the Expo Line that has been open since spring 2012.

There is one street-running segment on the second phase of the project that opened last month: on Colorado Avenue in Santa Monica between 17th Street and the Downtown Santa Monica Station between 4th and 5th streets. Generally speaking, Santa Monica gives more priority to Expo trains, although there are still intersections where the train must stop.

Quasi-related: more Expo-adjacent offices in Culver City are planned on a lot occupied by a smaller building.

For driver-less cars, a city-like test site (NYT)

The fake city in Ann Arbor reminds me of those fake cities where SWAT teams and FBI agents train on TV programs. Fun read includes this nugget:

In California, a former military base has been turned into a 2,100-acre test site called GoMentum Station, where Honda has been testing its autonomous driving technology. It has about 20 miles of paved roads and a cluster of barracks and buildings that provide an urban environment. It is also a secure location where companies can test cars in private.

I come in peace with a bike helmet on (Lisa Schweitzer) 

The USC prof gently suggests that using a bike helmet is probably a way to help reduce injuries and probably doesn’t discourage better biking facilities from being built — an argument often heard in bike-centric circles. As Lisa notes, the argument against helmets seems to go like this:

The idea seems to go something like this:

1) People don’t like bike helmets and that’s what keeps them from riding a bike;

2) Bicyclists are safer when there are more bicyclists are on the road (“the safety in numbers” effect); and thus

3) If helmets keep bicyclists off the road, they do not improve safety because they dampen the “safety in numbers” effect.

Lisa then takes a look at some of the studies that have been cited to justify the above and notes that the studies have issues/flaws. She dives deeper in a follow-up post.

Bill to expand Metro Board is shelved in Sacramento (LAT)

After some public wing-flapping, a bill that would have given politicians whose districts are 500 miles away a say in Metro affairs meets the Grim Reaper. Shocker.

 

 

 

18 replies

  1. Steve, have you heard anything on LADOT’s reaction to the press coverage about and petition for signal preemption?

    • Hi Kyle;

      Best to contact them. As I’ve mentioned before, Metro does work with LADOT and it’s important to be mindful that LADOT also has to get vehicles and pedestrians across intersections.

      Steve Hymon
      Editor, The Source

    • There are lots of bus traffics conflicting with Expo line as well, such as Adams & 23rd with the Silver Lines, the entry to Down Town LA from the Harbor Bus Way. I don’t think there is a easy solution until the gas price is $10/gallon.

  2. Once the Regional Connector is completed, if according to Metro’s plan, someone traveling from the Azusa-leg to the Santa Monica-leg, for example, can change trains in any of the Downtown LA stations where the two lines meet, and do that in the very same platform. However, under the current policy, the passenger will need to re-TAP after getting off train 1 and before getting on train 2 because it is considered changing line. Plus, how will the TAP card validator know which lines the passenger is transferring from and to?

    As the number of lines keeps increasing, the “tapping for each line” policy will become unnecessarily time-wasting and train-missing. Metro should consider changing the TAP-ing policy such that we only need to tap once at the beginning. As long as we complete a trip and get out of the Metro Rail system within 2 hours, we should not need to tap again even if we change lines. A fare inspector just needs to check whether the TAP card was validated within the previous 2 hours.

  3. No one should expect signal priority in the segment from 7th Metro Center to where the Blue Line and Expo Line split; there are just too many trains. But signal priority on the street crossings beyond that area would help cut the total time a bit. If you can cut two minutes on a 48-minuite run, that’s about a 5% savings. Every little bit helps.

    • IMHO there’s always room for improvement. Rail should have priority at minor arterial cross streets like 12th and 18th. It would be enlightening to know more how the existing traffic light setup works.

  4. I suspect with 20/20 hindsight, it would have been better if the Blue Line had initially been constructed underground until at least the Grand Station, which would have got it through the Washington Blvd. intersection. But the Blue Line opened long before the opening of either the Staples Center or L.A. Live, much less the huge amount of development in South Park and southwards. All of that has created much more traffic in Flower Corridor, competing with the Blue Line and the Expo Line, than what was there when the Blue Line opened.

  5. Steve, has there been some discussion about grade separating some key intersections on Flower (perhaps Adams to 28th for the on ramp) in exchange for more priority at other intersections? And is there time to add such a capital project to the ballot measure?

    • Hi Paul;

      No discussion as far as I’m aware. I don’t believe any new projects will be added to the ballot measure spending plan, although a revised plan will be out later this month.

      Steve Hymon
      Editor, The Source

      • I really hope the Green Line extension to Norwalk Metrolink makes the revised list. That to me is such a no-brainer and will really help create a useful Green Line, which will already be much improved upon the opening of Crenshaw.

  6. This is incomprehensible on the Expo Line:

    Trains regularly slow to a stop at the maintenance yard in Santa Monica to allow a single, solitary train operator to embark or disembark. There is a special one-door platform built for this purpose. Incredible! The Bergamont Station is three blocks away, and Metro employees stop trains with 150-plus people on them rather than walk three blocks to a station. Multiply this by all the trains, the thousands of passengers delayed, the time energy and wear and tear caused by the braking, stopping and accelerating.

    I don’t blame the employees (most of whom look like the exercise would do them good). I blame Metro. They take a $1.5 billion train set and operate it with such disdain for the passenger that they think nothing of delaying thousands of people a day rather than pay the operators to walk three blocks.

    Add to this:
    – the disastrous car ordering delays that have caused Tokyo subway conditions due to a critical car shortage.
    – the incomprehensible problems Metro had constructing a wye and track junction at Washington/Flower that caused steel wheels to destruct.
    – the inability for Metro to get electronic signs and announcements working correctly – both Expo trains I was on yesterday had incorrect interior signage, wrong next station announcements displayed and playing.
    – allowing bicyclists to attempt to board two-car rush hour trains, leading to fistfights and furious bicyclists at the Motor Ave stop yesterday, as packed train after packed train rolled by.
    – a schedule aggravated by low signal priority and the stupid delays at the maintenance station (above) that makes the $1.5 billion traisn slower than the freeway bus (BBB10) most hours.

    Not impressed. Very not impressed.

    • Operators are humans and need to take breaks. The stop for the operator switch shouldn’t take much time, assuming then that the operators do their actual change over at the next station.

      – the disastrous car ordering delays that have caused Tokyo subway conditions due to a critical car shortage.

      Plenty of coverage on how that came to be both here and elsewhere. Google “AnsaldoBreda Los Angeles” if you need to find it. Frankly we are lucky AnsaldoBreda did not get the order as I have little confidence that even one new car from what is now “Hitachi Rail Italy” would be in Metro’s hands right now.

      – the incomprehensible problems Metro had constructing a wye and track junction at Washington/Flower that caused steel wheels to destruct.

      *Metro* did not build that junction, the independent Expo Line Construction Authority did and if you want to know why these independent construction authorities exist, please contact your representatives in Sacramento.

      – the inability for Metro to get electronic signs and announcements working correctly – both Expo trains I was on yesterday had incorrect interior signage, wrong next station announcements displayed and playing.

      This: http://www.popularmechanics.com/military/research/a21233/the-navy-is-jamming-gps-signals-over-the-desert-and-wont-say-why/
      may have been the reason.

      – allowing bicyclists to attempt to board two-car rush hour trains, leading to fistfights and furious bicyclists at the Motor Ave stop yesterday, as packed train after packed train rolled by.

      Good point. Maybe Metro needs to impose a ban on bikes on Light Rail until the car order is completed.

      – a schedule aggravated by low signal priority and the stupid delays at the maintenance station (above) that makes the $1.5 billion traisn slower than the freeway bus (BBB10) most hours.

      Feel free to contact the city council and put more pressure on LADOT and Caltrans (Figueroa On-Ramps). As for the SMBBB R10, I took it a week ago and from Santa Monica & 4th to 7th St. Metro Center, the 6pm departure took 50 minutes just to get to the Bundy onr-amp and 1 hour 45 minutes to make the journey. Never again.

      • Was this during rush-hour (Rapid 10)??

        – In that case, I have to agree, but outside of peak hours (12pm-2:30pm) the Rapid 10 has beat the Expo Line to Bundy. I witnessed a R10 bus on the freeway flying by as I wait for the train at Culver City and by the time I arrived to Bundy that same bus had already departed Olympic and Bundy. I hope somebody does an experiment on this during both off-peak and peak hours.

    • Bingo!!!!

      All of this and I’ll add and remove something to the list as well.

      Remove:

      – Electronic signs inside train car: Can we just remove those and install electronic signs similar to those of the Breda P2550 Gold Line cars?? Clearly while they are not useless it seems the new car may be better off with something much more simpler, like only displaying the upcoming station.

      Add:

      – On top of the Delays experienced on the Expo Line almost every time I’ve ridden the line. The Expo Line and the Red Line don’t connect with each other.

      What do I mean?? Well, since the beginning of the Expo Line’s operation, every time I arrived at 7th/Metro, the Red Line has already departed, forcing a 12-15 min wait on passengers transferring to the Red Line. The same is said for the Red Line whenever I need to connect to the Expo Line, the trains has already departed from the station forcing again another 12-15 min wait. This overall adds to the commute time.

      While I’m happy to have alternatives, the alternatives are not attractive. Yes, I still use transit 4 times a week even though I have a car that shaves my 5 day a week reverse-peak commute by an hour (30 min vs 90 min), but at this point I only continue to use public transit on a regular basis for financial reasons, rather than novelty reasons.

  7. Hi Steve,

    When is Metro planning to really advertise the June 26th Silver Line “all-door boarding?” I barely noticed it on the web-site this morning. (The initial roll-out of the changes were poorly advertised/implemented and provided for mass confusion) Will tap validators be installed on actual buses? At “key” stops or will they be installed curb-side? I’m sure you are aware that the Silver Line has a tendency to bunch up at different stops. Also, what happens when the Silver Line shares the same stop with other buses? (If the validators are installed curbside?)

    I am concerned that the boarding will be slowed down due to a number of people paying their fare with cash. The announcement stated that you must have a tap card to board the Silver Line and if necessary, you can add value when boarding. Really? This will really slow down people boarding. PLEASE advertise this on the buses. There is a significant number of people that pay their fare with cash.

    On a side note, I have been collecting comments from ex-450 riders re changes made to the Silver Line. I plan to attend the South Bay Service Council meeting this Friday and present this information during this time.

    Metro previously advertised the Silver Line as a “faster way to downtown.” This is so not true! (I have comments to back it up!)

    Mary

    • Hi Mary;

      We’ll have more about the all-door boarding project soon! We’re waiting until we get closer to the date.

      Steve Hymon
      Editor, The Source

      • Steve, thanks for the response. However, June 26th is not that far away. I see another Silver Line disaster. Can Metro at least place flyers on the buses to at least make the announcement?

  8. The issue with expo is its speed and waiting for cars. You stop at Natural History, then maybe a light, then a Light, and then Vermont Station. If your lucky its smooth sainling from there. I got from my couch to the end of the pier in about 56 minutes on a Saturday morning, from Wilshire/Vermont. I was with a good friend, and we were amazed. This was at 7:30 in the morning though, and I used the app to check the arrivals at Wilver(?) and also 7th n Metro to interface properly.

    Now after this experience, I find that coming back into the city DURING RUSH HOUR is terrible. The terminus is clogged, simple as that. Either Red Line or Purple Line riders are getting shafted; if they have to go further than Wilshire Vermont. Its just the mechanics of that terminus, but what makes that tranfer awful, is like how someone said above, that you will miss your train by a hair after all of the stops into DTLA, and then to idle in the tunnel for a minute. It sucks. The worst thing in transportation is well, not being transported. So its like you wait to wait, and for myself, I can only assume what other alternative would be getting me there faster, or imagining taking off my shoes once I step inside.

    Something tells me, this line will get a lot of sleepers. Theyll have fresh tans, but that sun beats. Metro should fix this as soon as possible. LADOT should focus on the mobilty of the people en mass and not just single occupancy vehicles. If those drivers dont like waiting, well maybe they should think of an alternative, because at this stage, thousands of people are being delayed, when drivers could use alternat routes, or ride the line. Some of us are stuck on transpo because that is our only option.