Regional Connector progress, LAFC, BYD, costways: HWR, May 21

Dept. of Transit Oriented Futbol: 

LAFC has two matches this week — a Tuesday night friendly versus BVB and Saturday night against D.C. United. The new Banc of California Stadium is a short stroll from the Expo Line and Silver Line. More here.

On the subject of Major League Soccer, the NYT also had a good story this weekend about Atlanta United’s popularity with the city’s transplant community. Although a different sport, the expansion Las Vegas Golden Knights secured a spot in the Stanley Cup Final on Sunday and perhaps will serve as inspiration for LAFC, which currently sits in second place in the Western Conference of the MLS.

Dept. of Rail Construction: the Regional Connector held a “halfway” event over the weekened to celebrate construction hitting the 50 percent mark. The project is scheduled to open in Dec. 2021 and will tie together the Blue, Expo and Gold Lines.

That will make a lot of light rail trips to and through DTLA quicker and be, me thinks, a real boon to Eastside Gold Line riders who no longer will need the circuitous and not hyperspeed ride to Union Station and switch to the Red/Purple Line subway to reach the DTLA core.

A few pics recently taken of construction progress — the photos are courtesy Ken Karagozian:

And this:

Stalls, stops and breakdowns: Problems plague push for electric buses (LAT)

The article takes a critical look at electric buses made by manufacturer BYD and the firm’s lobbying efforts to win contracts with transit agencies, including Metro.

Metro’s Board voted last summer to purchase 60 40-foot buses from BYD last summer as part of the agency’s efforts to fully electrify its bus fleet by 2030. Here is the staff report and the procurement summary. Metro stresses that it plans to conduct a quality control process throughout this contract (and others) to ensure that the buses meet the agency’s expectations.

Counting the ways that freeways are no longer really free (SGV Tribune)

In this op-ed, Steve Scauzillo counts the many ways that freeways exact a price — the cost of owning and maintaining a car, the time lost in congestion and the air pollution impacting the health of those who live near freeways.

He likes a proposal that the Metro Board has asked the agency to study: billing people to use the ExpressLanes instead of fining them — likely through a license plate recognition system (they do this on the Golden Gate Bridge).

Of course that raises an interesting public policy question: is it better to have everyone pay to use toll lanes or continue to provide free rides to those that meet the carpool requirement. At this time, no changes are planned — but the Metro Board had an interesting conversation about the issue last month if you want to listen.

As for calling freeways freeways, what would a better alternative be? Costways?

Elon Musk doesn’t want anyone slowing down his plan to dig tunnels under Los Angeles (Washington Post)

The WaPo serves up a couple scoops of skepticism on the Boring Company’s plans for tunnels that would carry people and cars under the L.A. area:

He [Musk] stressed that the project’s test tunnels would not be detrimental to the city’s residents or its environment and that the Boring Company is not drilling under any homes or businesses. But the details on how that is possible – or how the company plans to make money if they only charge $1 per rider, plus how it will solve the city’s transportation problem if only 16 people can ride even multiple tubes at a time – weren’t addressed in real detail at the event.

“We will turn a profit by making more money than we spend,” the company said via email.

Maybe another way of thinking about it: when it comes to transpo, the more options the better. It’s hard to say if the Boring Company’s plans will definitely come to pass but it does seem like the demand for mobility is certainly there. I can envision a world in which the Sepulveda Transit Corridor and the private tunnels could co-exist. Thoughts?

Metro committee approves cutting Bike-Share prices, expanding system (Streetsblog LA)

One of the items the Metro Board will consider Thursday is cutting bike share fares in half — to $1.75 for a 30-minute ride — and expanding the system over the next year to Culver City, Mar Vista, West L.A. and pushing the existing DTLA system further out. Here’s a presentation, including the new fare structure.

Cutting the price should help ridership, I think. Station locations matter — and Metro staff are working on improving locations to make the bikes as convenient as possible. The X factor, of course, is whether there are enough bike lanes to attract the masses to use the bikes although that hasn’t stopped the Bird electric scooters from soaring in popularity.

Thoughts?

8 replies

  1. Freeways should be free of congestion after rush hour. I’m all for mass transit if it can pay for itself and priority should be about finding routes to reduce freeway congestion. This hasn’t happened yet. I’m afraid high speed rail is taking money from other places that can be put to better use.

  2. The RTD and later the MTA have a proven history that new experimental bus designs have not worked out in their fleet. AMC General was a failure. Gruman-Flexible was a failure. Carpenter was a huge failure. We had the failed Methanol and Ethanol experiments. General Motors sold their bus production division and it has since closed down. Flexible went out of business due to their flawed designs. The mTA is now left with two major bus providers, New Flyer and Gilleg. While BYD is a major bus supplier in China it has become very apparent their all electric bus design is a failure. Doors that do not open or close should not be an electric bus problem, a common reliable system already exists. The same is true concern many of the problems reported. For the BYD or any other manufacturer to successfully compete they must be able to complete a current bus assignment in miles provided. Anything less renders a bus uneconomical to operate in regular revenue service. Lines other than the Orange and Silver Lines do not have a dedicated right of way and terminal. Most local MTA lines layover on the street with layovers at times temporarily changed due to special events and construction. Therefore the fallacy that they can be recharged at their terminal riders that idea impossible. Even at Terminal 28 in Downtown Los Angeles total chaos would exist with the multitude of buses that circulate through there hourly. Would Service Delays be acceptable in order to re-charge a buses batteries? And then the nightmare of deadheading buses back into service in order to place them back on time bypassing their stops in the CBD. And each Road Call to replace a bus takes away a mechanic that should be repairing or servicing a bus in maintenance.

    Not only the electric bus project subject to experimentation but also the public . The customers that the MTA relies on will be placed under the microscope as well. Will the customers accept the above mentioned Service Delays? Will they accept bus changes enroute having to in some instances dash from one bus to another in the pouring rain? And those who lose their seats to the standees on the original bus will be very unsatisfied.

    Politics and inexperience have plagued the MTA since it’s creation. It’s time for the agency to ask those with actual experience both mechanically and operations their opinions. Text book answers do not work. Experience gained at small agencies are of very little help when dealing with thousands of buses, thousands operators and mechanics and millions of patrons. The MTA is supposed to be a BIG BOY Operation but as time has shown us many decisions have been made that prove otherwise. The MTA should not be the test tube of new unproven ideas but instead a leader when proven methods have been developed.

  3. Bird scooter riders don’t use bike lanes, they use the sidewalk. How long before someone is hurt or killed? I almost got hit by a kid–who couldn’t have been older than 12–going full speed around the corner on the sidewalk.

  4. Yeah I’ve never understood why anyone thinks Musk’s tunnels must be mutually exclusive to developing a world class traditional rapid transit network. Stopping development of urban rapid transit in light of all this would be very unwise. It would be tantamount to discarding all of the interurbans and streetcars in the 1960s thinking freeways would save everything. There may even be congestion problems for areas near Musk’s tunnel portals due to the sheer amount of people entering them at once, we just don’t know. Obviously it’s a very cool Idea that could revolutionize transportation around here but its unproven unlike the Sepulveda corridor subway, which we know can work just as the red line under the Cahuenga Pass has for some time now. People will assume these tunnels will make metro rapid transit obsolete which I think somehow is just not going to quite pan out the way some people see it. Compared to building urban freeways though, at least these tunnels are virtually non intrusive to the existing built environment.

  5. Back in the day, this plan for major freeway and expressway construction in San Francisco used the term “trafficway.” Nowadays this term would be even more appropriate. https://www.flickr.com/photos/walkingsf/3897327276

    But the roadgeek in me appreciates that at least the California public uses a separate term for fully grade-separated, access-controlled facilities. Over in the Southeast, everything from a two-lane rural road to a ten-lane freeway is just “the highway.” (Or maybe a freeway is referred to as “the Interstate,” even if it’s a US route or state highway.)

  6. Its seems the pre century will just never go away. The freeways were a great Idea in theory. “Back when the dollar was worth a dollar” lol! Lets face it, there want much thought into the future since we should be flying our cars by now. Its too bad there is an invention called the helicopter and its really noisy and disruptive.

    The most polite way to make people aware they are using a valuable public space is to make them pay for it. Are there alternatives? Yes. The days of just walking out your door without planning a trip are over and nonsensical. When it hits in the pocket, like we see when gas prices spike, people start to measure alternatives.

    I do feel that giving people fines for using the lanes is mean. Make it a fare that encourages people to sign up for the fast track system. Also, why not model it with rewards? Use the pass 500 times and get a free metro weekly pass. Ive always thought the fast track should come with a TAP card anyway.

    Metro needs to passively lead people to thinking about how they get around, not prod them with “fines”. Its just really mean spirited and to me third world and not first world.