Uber gets heave-ho in London, countdown clocks, Claremont station: HWR, Sept. 22

Angeli is the name given to the tunneling machine that will be digging the second of the twin tunnels for the Regional Connector project that will tie together the Blue, Expo and Gold Lines. The first tunnel was completed earlier this year. The project is forecast to be done in late 2021; here’s the project home page.

Dept. of Baseball: the Dodgers have nine games remaining, including six against the lowly Giants and Padres. There is no way possible that they don’t clinch the NL West this weekend and then the No. 1 seed in the National League. Right? Problem is, the No. 1 seed may be a curse, given that could mean a five-game Division Series against the D-Backs and their strong pitching staff. It might be better to be the No. 2 seed and take on the Cubs and let Washington cope with Arizona, assuming the D-backs survive the wildcard game. Going to the game this weekend? Try the Dodger Stadium Express from Union Station and Harbor Gateway — it’s free!

Uber denied London license in shock move that bans cars from city’s streets (Telegraph)

The big transpo story of the week, me thinks. Transport for London denied Uber’s application to continue to operate in London, saying the company hasn’t been forthright on several issues. Uber says it will rely on pressure from its many customers in London to help persuade the agency to overturn the decision (Uber can continue to operate while its appeal is decided).

There’s a lot to this story. London taxi drivers have long complained about Uber, given their cheaper prices. And, as the NYT notes, taxi drivers in London tend to be white whereas Uber drivers tend to be ethnic minorities trying to gain a foothold in the British job market.

I’m guessing a lot of cities around the world will be closely watching this dispute. The ride sharing companies are popular but rely on a public resource — road space. They’re also taking on an established industry with degrees of political muscle and, sometimes, more stringent standards about who drives for them.

All that said, this probably isn’t an attack on ride sharing so much as it’s a shot at Uber and its corporate hubris to date. Stay tuned.

Chatting with Los Angeles transit expert Ethan Elkind (Curbed LA)

The author of “Railtown” takes questions from readers about a variety of issues — with most wanting to know about Metro’s expansion plans. I left a bunch of answers in the comments and left the opinionating to Ethan.

Why we can’t rely on Metro’s countdown clocks (Curbed LA)

One of the many other transit stories on Curbed this week, which they’re dedicating to transit. Gist of it: writer Amelia Taylor-Hochberg found the train arrival times at Metro Rail stations and at nextbus.com to sometimes be iffy — and that makes it harder, she says, for people to plan their lives and ride transit.

We do receive complaints about this issue and we understand a GPS-based system would work better (funding would need to be found for it). We’ve also found that the current system works pretty well most of the time — but service disruptions can disrupt the accuracy of the predictions. Your thoughts?

Metro to study the future of the Claremont Metrolink station (Daily Bulletin)

A motion approved by the Board’s Planning Committee this week asks the agency to look at whether to continue to keep the Claremont station open after the Gold Line extension debuts (currently scheduled for 2027).

The full Metro Board will consider the motion at their meeting on Thursday. The Board will also consider launching a study to see how best the Gold Line and Metrolink’s San Bernardino Line can work in tandem in the future since it’s expected some Metrolink riders will switch to the Gold Line (which will run more frequently and be less expensive to ride).

Some background: the Gold Line project requires the Claremont Metrolink station to be moved. Also, the Metrolink stations for Claremont and Montclair are close to one another, raising the question for some on whether they will both be needed in the future.

Your thoughts?

Eco-Rapid Transit: Metro Light Rail to Connect Southeast County & DTLA (The Planning Report)

Good interview about the Metro project to build light rail between Artesia and Union Station in DTLA. BTW, the project is formally called the West Santa Ana Branch Transit Corridor (after an old streetcar right-of-way) although on the blog I prefer “Artesia-to-Union Station light rail” as part of my War on Needless Jargon.

20 replies

  1. Thoughts on Metro countdown clocks:
    Far more frustrating than data inaccuracies – and also far easier to solve – is the problem that the monitors are often displaying something other than the countdown clock. Many of the monitors rotate between a number of different screens, the majority of which constitute far less essential information (PSAs along the lines of “If you see something say something…”). If I am at the top of the escalator at Union Station and I have to stand and wait in front of the monitor for the countdown information to appear, I could miss my train! There is a very simple solution. Dedicate a small part of each screen to the countdown clock, so that even if other information needs to be rotated in and out, the countdown is still shown during that time.

    Thoughts on Claremont station:
    Many people access this station on foot, for instance when going to/from the Claremont Colleges. The Claremont and Montclair stations may be “close to one another” by car, but they are a very long walk apart. Very few people going to the Claremont Colleges or downtown Claremont Village will want to walk from Montclair. At a minimum, eliminating the Claremont Metrolink station would result in a significant loss of public transportation during the period when the Gold Line station is under construction and no trains at all serve Claremont. Unless we want to restrict Metrolink to people who drive to the train station, this proposal should rapidly be sent off to the Museum of Bad Ideas.

  2. My observations as a daily rider: Its come to the point where arrival time prediction screens in stations are wrong or disabled MOST OF THE TIME; they’ve been on this path for a while. Theyre at best useless and at worst misleading. Needless to say the whole system is utterly broken and in need of an overhaul.

  3. As a regular rider, I look at the screen times on the Red Line, but know in my head that there is a 50% chance they’ll be correct. My wish is that there be no timetables on Metro Rail and certain key connecting bus routes and that they be frequent enough to where you can show up and know there will be a bus or train in a matter of minutes.

    I totally agree with this. Removing the Claremont station would be a very dumb mistake Metro. Not quite as dumb as elevating the walkway at Union Station to reach the platforms, but still dumb none the less.

    “Thoughts on Claremont station:
    Many people access this station on foot, for instance when going to/from the Claremont Colleges. The Claremont and Montclair stations may be “close to one another” by car, but they are a very long walk apart. Very few people going to the Claremont Colleges or downtown Claremont Village will want to walk from Montclair. At a minimum, eliminating the Claremont Metrolink station would result in a significant loss of public transportation during the period when the Gold Line station is under construction and no trains at all serve Claremont. Unless we want to restrict Metrolink to people who drive to the train station, this proposal should rapidly be sent off to the Museum of Bad Ideas.”

  4. I generally agree with the other comments. Some of the signs are typically correct (Purple Line is usually pretty close). Gold line is almost always off. I’ll come out of the Purple/Red line, and the sign will say 8 minutes to Gold Line departure. I walk over to the Gold Line (perhaps 1-2 minutes?) and find it pulling away from the station. That said, it’s not like having a sign will speed up/slow down service…so I typically just try to ignore them now. I have also seen the screens display some other screen entirely, as described above by Allon.

    Although I like NextBus, some buses clearly are not tracked, as I’ve looked at NextBus to find a 20 minute wait, only to start walking and have a bus pass me 2 minutes later. Obviously that’s incredibly frustrating. Typically it’s pretty accurate, but maybe once a week there’s a rogue un-tracked bus.

    • One other curious thing I’ve noticed – on the Gold Line (at least at Memorial Park where I alight in the morning/board afternoon) the signs on either platform are not in sync. For instance one will say 2 minutes to whichever direction, and the other one will say 8 minutes. I’ve found the northbound platform to be more accurate, for what it’s worth…

      I thought that was only a Gold Line thing, but this morning I noticed the signs at Wilshire/Western were also like that. When you enter the station, the sign at west and east turnstiles were displaying different time predictions.

  5. When is Metro going to activate the screens at the Green Line/110 Freeway stop? They were installed almost 3 years ago.

    • Hi Mary –

      I put out request for more info. I’ll let you know when I get answer.

      Steve Hymon
      Editor, The Source

    • Hi Mary;

      I’m told the monitors were installed but still need to be connected via microwave signal to the rest of the system. The tech folks say they are adding it to their list of things to do.

      Steve Hymon
      Editor, The Source

      • Thanks, Steve. My frustration is why weren’t they connected to the system after they were installed almost 3 years ago? Why start something and not complete it?

  6. I don’t think Metrolink’s Claremont Station would be needed. To keep the balance, Metrolink should feel like an express line compared to the Gold Line.

  7. And when is Metro ever going to put up purple dot designations at the station signs along the platforms on all the stations from Wilshire/Western to Union Station? This will be especially important for people unfamiliar with the system once the extensions down Wilshire come on line.

    • My wife just pointed that out to me the other day (I take it every day, but hadn’t really noticed). All of the signs above the tracks indicate that it’s the Red Line. It seems like every day when I get to Wilshire/Western there’s riders who have no idea what’s going on, and obviously when they step out of the train it becomes even less clear.

      I can’t imagine it’s that costly to put purple dots in place of the red ones. Is this a cost thing, or a laziness thing?

      • C’mon folks, the “Purple Line” was only just created in 2006. Why are you trying to rush Metro?

        P.S. Ain’t it fun to watch the newbies and the tourists realize that the train has stopped and is turning around at Wilshire/Western even though they thought it was going to Hollywood?

        • Steve, do you care to comment on this issue? It’s ridiculous that this has never been addressed after so many years. Stations like Wilshire/Western and Wilshire/Normandie are not even on the red line, yet still have red dots on the overhead signs! And all of the other downtown stations from Vermont inward should have both colors designated since they share the same tracks.

  8. Maybe we could have a Kickstarter? Purple Dots for the Purple Line!

    (Wait, I think we actually have to buy blue translucent ones, right?)

    • Dear Steve/Metro,

      I will bring my own ladder, stencil, and bring a couple cans of spray paint and do it for you. I will sign any waiver you need me to sign to do it.

      On the table.

      • I don’t know why Steve, despite multiple entreaties on my part, still refuses to comment on this subject. Is he afraid of offending his Metro overlords?

        • Hi Bob;

          I wanted to get the information before writing anything. I’m told that prior to 2005, the entire subway was known as the Red Line — thus the red dots. The signs were obviously never updated after the subway to Wilshire/Western was dubbed the Purple Line.

          Our art department is aware of the issue and says that the signs would be expensive to replace, the reason it hasn’t been done yet. That said, it will be done with construction of the Purple Line extension underway. The future signs, however, will likely be digital instead.

          The question of whether this confuses riders is a good one. I don’t have any stats about complaints on the issue made to Metro over the years. I can tell you that in my time at the Source, I can’t recall anyone complaining — for whatever that may be worth.

          So, it’s one of those issues that is certainly not ideal although I can’t honestly tell you how much of an issue it really is or is not for riders. My wild guess is that our everyday riders are used to it and that possibly it has tripped up visitors — although I’m also guessing many visitors rely on the station names more than the color of the dots.

          I hope that helps answer your question. I’m sorry I didn’t seek an answer from staff when the issue first came up here — it got lost in the shuffle. I’m not afraid of offending anyone here with questions but I do try to get info before posting anything.

          Steve Hymon
          Editor, The Source

          • Thanks for the update Steve. Having the new designations be digital makes a lot of sense for flexibility reasons, especially if Metro follows through with its plans to change eventually from colors to letters/numbers. Of course, whatever system is chosen is only as good as how well it is maintained, and how visible it is both on the platforms and from inside the train cars.