How We Roll, August 4: Expo Line news, transit and the Olympics

The Santa Monica Freeway as seen from the Expo Line. Photo by Steve Hymon/Metro.

The Santa Monica Freeway as seen from the Expo Line. Photo by Steve Hymon/Metro.

Expo Line and Gold Line update: We’re well aware of some of the crowding that riders have experienced in recent weeks on the Expo Line and Gold Line. Some good news to pass along from Metro staff: at this time, the agency is planning to begin running Expo Line trains every six minutes as part of the annual December service changes. Expo trains are now running every 12 minutes, so that’s a considerable improvement for a rail line that has proven to be very, very popular.

As more new light rail vehicles are delivered from our contractor, Kinkisharyo, Metro is also planning on deploying more three-car trains on both the Expo Line and Gold Line. This, of course, is contingent on deliveries of new rail cars continuing at their present rate. Metro has thus far received 41 new rail cars and the base order of 78 is expected to arrive by early 2017.

It continues to take some time to get the new rail cars into service. They have to be broken in and tested. But Metro has also been working diligently to reduce the time it takes to get cars into service with some success lately. So there’s some good news on the horizon! In the meantime, thank you to everyone for their patience! And please stay tuned for more news.

A possible sales tax hike and the future of L.A. transit (Press Play/KCRW)

The LAT’s Laura Nelson and UCLA’s Michael Manville discuss the Expo Line, traffic, transit ridership, transit and urban planning and Metro’s half-cent sales tax ballot measure going to L.A. County voters on Nov. 8.

“What new rail systems offer you is the ability to avoid traffic,” Manville said. “…The idea that it will take so many cars off the road that we will drive freely is a long shot.” My three cents: concur. And I would not undervalue the ability to avoid L.A. traffic.

Laura was also asked if she thought the ballot measure would pass. Hard to say, she said, adding that she’s not a pollster and that Measure R in 2008 squeaked by while Measure J in 2012 barely lost. “Every one of these measures is a really on the razor’s edge,” Laura added. My three cents: concur again.

One thing to clarify: the phrase “forever tax.” Measure R was a half-cent sales tax for 30 years and will expire in mid-2039. The new measure asks voters to raise the countywide sales tax by a half-cent and to continue Measure R beyond mid-2039. Is it a “forever tax?” Well, it does continue in perpetuity — or until voters decide to call an election to consider ending it. That’s the case for many taxes and laws — they’re on the books until someone decides to end them.

Quasi-related: yes, I’m aware of a future Metro map floating around the Internet. Here’s the part where I have to put on my Government Hat and say this: it’s important to understand that we can’t officially say that such-and-such project is definitely a rail line or BRT line until the environmental process is complete for each and every project. That’s the reason that we can’t put out a similar map and that’s the reason I often use the word “potential” when discussing these projects.

It’s also important to reminder voters to look at Metro’s plan and the funding available for each project (look at the documents posted on the right side of the page). The idea is to provide enough funding to cover the expense of different project alternatives. Ultimately and hopefully, voters will educate themselves on the plan and then decide on its viability and ability to move people. Quasi-quasi related: if you haven’t registered to vote, please do so!

Construction is set to begin on $140-million La Plaza mixed-use project near Olvera Street (LAT)

Good news, unless you think it’s appropriate for much of the land near our region’s largest transit hub — Union Station — to continue to be consumed by surface parking lots.

China’s straddling bus, on a test run, floats above streets (NYT)

If memory serves, I mocked this concept when it was first ‘floated’ a few years ago. But the thing got built and did a short test run this week in the coastal town of Qinhuangdao. The obvious advantage is that it can carry a boatload of people without the need to build subway tunnels or aerial structures.

Will it play nice with traffic? Who knows. At the very least, I suspect it will be a great prop in a future “Mission: Impossible” movie.

Rio’s long-delayed Olympic metro line opens in the nick of time (Washington Post)

The new 10-mile subway skirts poor neighborhoods, was overbudget and late to open and is several miles from the actual Olympics — a bus rapid transit line connects the metro to the Games.

Things to read whilst transiting: The NYT Magazine devoted its entire issue on Sunday to the Summer Olympics. If you scroll down, there’s an article about cities battling to host the Games and why citizens in Boston fought back — even after the U.S. Olympic Committee had chosen Boston as the American bid city for the 2024 Summer Games. Hey, their loss is potentially L.A.’s gain as we’re now the American bid city, competing against Budapest, Paris and Rome. The International Olympic Committee is scheduled to pick a winner in September 2017.

And if you haven’t seen this yet:


8 replies

  1. On top of that base order of 78, Metro already exercised a contract option for additional cars, yes? When will those start to arrive? Are they intended to bolster the total number of cars in service as well, or is it more to replace older cars that are retiring?

  2. Awesome news about 6 minute headways on Expo! Two questions: does this mean the new headways would be effective in December, or the decision will be made in December? Also, do you have any details as to what portion of the day will have 6 minute headways?


    • Hi Kyle;

      Assuming it goes forward as plans, it would likely happen whichever day the service changes go into effect. I think the six-minute headways would be during peak hours and not the entire service day.

      Steve Hymon
      Editor, The Source

  3. Just a thought: it might be a good idea to implement more frequent headways on the Expo and Gold Lines BEFORE the Measure M vote in November. Thanks for the updates Steve!

  4. I think the main issue is not the fact that its packed, but because the expo line has been delaying so frequently. Issues like disabled trains, signaling issues, and other issues that are causing the delays should be evaluated. These issues are the main reason why the trains are filled so quickly in one or two stops. If issues are solved, they shouldn’t be reoccurring, but this hadn’t been the case lately.

    These delays are frustrating. If these delays keep on happening then why would people even consider taking public transportation? I seriously don’t mind the trains being packed, I mind that metro is wasting everyone’s time and they can be using that time to do other things.

  5. Recent photos I’ve seen of Gold Line trains show a suspicious lack of the new P3010 cars (admittedly not a huge sample).
    Are there an unusually large number of break-in issues with these cars? If so, Metro needs to come clean on what corrective actions they are taking. TIA!

    • There are Kinkisharyo cars being used on both the Gold and Expo Lines. Keep in mind the Expo Line is 15 miles long and the Gold Line is 31 miles long. So better chance of seeing them on Expo than Gold.

      Steve Hymon
      Editor, The Source