Twitter Tuesday: the good, the bad and the musings

You know the drill: To get our attention, tweet us at @MetroLosAngeles tag to your tweets and subscribe to our feed if you haven’t already. For specific complaints and customer service, please use the Customer Comment Form on

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Metro and The Academy release only known film of 1939 Union Station opening parade shot by famed animator who created Jiminy Cricket

In honor of Union Station’s 75th Anniversary, Metro and the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, in cooperation with the family of Ward Kimball, have restored the only known footage of the historic opening. The parade, documented in the home movie, drew half a million spectators to downtown Los Angeles.

This silent 6-minute color film clip features train engines, vintage automobiles and spectators from the parade on May 3, 1939. The home movie was shot by legendary Disney animator Ward Kimball, creator of numerous classic Disney characters, including Jiminy Cricket in “Pinocchio”, Tweedledee and Tweedledum in “Alice in Wonderland” and Lucifer the Cat in “Cinderella.” In 1970, Kimball received an Academy Award for Best Short Subject (Cartoon) for “It’s Tough to be a Bird.”

Ward Kimball, circa 1948

Ward Kimball, circa 1948

Kimball, was an avid railway enthusiast and collector of old railroad memorabilia. His personal film collection at the Academy Film Archive includes footage of Kimball’s own Grizzly Flats Railroad and documentation of a range of transportation technologies.

The home movie begins with two locomotives that later appear in the parade: the Southern Pacific Number 1 and the Union Pacific Number 22. They are clearly being attended to … probably in preparation for their parade.appearance. If anyone recognizes the people in the clip, please let us know.

In the dead of the night, Union Station a popular location for music videos

This is the sixth in a series of posts on the history of Union Station that we are running this month. The station celebrates its 75th anniversary on May 3. 

Just as the movies, television and commercials frequently shoot in Union Station, the music industry often uses the building as a location for music videos. Most are shot in the wee hours of the morning so that patrons are not bothered by the lights, cameras, electrical cords and occasional redecoration.

More recently, Union Station played a starring role in Pharrell Williams’ music video for “Happy” — in particular the 24-hour version of the song from which these stills were taken:

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Above, the Fred Harvey Restaurant is a great venue for Fiona Apple and her entourage, although it’s hard to say which is more engaging: the music, the room or the children.

Below, the Brian Setzer Orchestra swings and the Fred Harvey room looks like a ’40s dance club.

Here, Union Station is a beautiful backdrop to a love story by Lifehouse.

You have to stay vigilant to see it but the Ticket Room is just visible in “Wings of a Butterfly” by the Finnish band HIM. This video was Number 1 on the Rock Countdown on MTV2. No doubt, it was the setting.


Metro and The Academy release only known film of Union Station’s grand opening

Metro Motion celebrates beautiful Union Station’s 75th anniversary

Union Station: a grand opening

Union Station’s 75th: Seymour Rosen celebrates the opening

How Harvey House restaurants changed the West

Union Station: a man worthy of respect

Union Station: a star of big screen and small

Our first podcast: filming over the years at Union Station

How are America’s transit agencies going green?

Solar Canopies produce green energy and shade buses at MARTA's Decatur garage.

Solar canopies produce green energy and shade buses at MARTA’s Decatur garage.

Here in the United States, public transportation saves 37 million metric tons of carbon dioxide and 4.2 billion gallons of gasoline annually, according to the American Public Transportation Association. Though a greener option than personal vehicles by far, transit agencies still use large amounts of energy, and produce their fair share of waste, in the course of operations.

You’ve already read what we here at Metro are doing to ensure a more sustainable, energy-efficient system today and in the future. With Earth Day as our impetus, we decided to take a look at how other transit agencies across the country are going green. Below, a few examples:

Did you know Chicago Transit Authority headquarters have been LEED Platinum certified since 2012, helped, in part, by their green roof?

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Nighttime Wilshire/Sepulveda intersection closures planned April 22 through May 5

Here’s the press release from Metro:

The I-405 Sepulveda Pass Improvements Project contractor is planning to close the Wilshire / Sepulveda Boulevard intersection in Westwood nightly for two weeks beginning April 22 to May 5 for needed paving work.

The contractor will grind existing asphalt, pave a top lift of asphalt roadway, install traffic loops, and restripe the intersection to its permanent alignment.

Closure information is as follows:

  • From 10 p.m. to 6 a.m., starting at 10 p.m. on Tuesday, April 22 - and continuing nightly from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. – until 6 a.m. on Monday, May, 5, 2014.
  • Sepulveda Boulevard will be reduced to one lane in each direction from Constitution Avenue to 800 feet south of Wilshire Boulevard.
  • Wilshire Boulevard will be fully closed from Bonsall Avenue to Veteran Avenue.

Ramp Closures:

Ramp closures will begin at 8 p.m.

Off-ramp Closures

  • Northbound 405 to westbound Wilshire Boulevard
  • Southbound 405 to eastbound Wilshire Boulevard

On-ramp Closures

  • Eastbound Wilshire to northbound 405
  • Westbound Wilshire to northbound 405
  • Westbound Wilshire to southbound 405


  • From westbound Wilshire: turn left to southbound Westwood Boulevard, turn right to westbound Santa Monica Boulevard, turn right to northbound Federal Avenue, and turn left to continue onto westbound Wilshire Boulevard.
  • From eastbound Wilshire: turn right to southbound Federal Avenue, turn left to eastbound Santa Monica Boulevard, turn left to northbound Westwood Boulevard, and turn right to continue onto eastbound Wilshire Boulevard. 

What to expect:

Transportation headlines, Day of Earth, April 22

Have a transportation-related article you think should be included in headlines? Drop me an email! And don’t forget, Metro is on TwitterFacebook and Instagram. Pick your social media poison! 

Happy Earth Day! Photo:

Happy Earth Day! Photo:

Linking the Los Angeles airport (New York Times)

The NYT takes a look at Metro’s Airport Metro Connector project, which seeks to connect the LAX terminals to Metro Rail via a people mover or light rail. The featured photo shows the junction where a Green Line spur was supposed to turn north toward the airport — a spur, as you know, that was never built.


But just how the connection is made is where the politics lie.

There are two options drawing the most consideration. One is an underground rail line that would offer more direct access to the airport, at a cost of about $2 billion more, but it would do little to ease airport congestion. The Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority, or Metro, board has placed the proposal on the back burner.

The other option, backed by Mayor Garcetti, is centered on what Mr. Bonin, the councilman, describes as building a new front door to the airport, about a mile and a half away. Ideally, it would be not only a transit hub, but also a place where cars could be parked and luggage checked before passengers took an automated people mover that circulated through the nine terminals.

“The people mover scenario makes the most sense,” said Juan Matute, the associate director of U.C.L.A.’s Institute of Transportation Studies. “There’s a lot of land available to build a world-class arrival center. Then from there, running a people mover will allow a higher capacity of people to enter the airport.”

The article concludes with a note of skepticism anything will happen. I’m not so sure — in my time here it seems there is currently more interest than ever in getting something done and certainly having the Crenshaw/LAX Line under construction is part of that. The big unanswered question, as with most projects, involves funding, namely will there be funds available to build some of the more expensive options.

Riding transit is the best way to celebrate Earth Day (Huffington Post)

The president of a transit workers union — in partnership with the Sierra Club, btw — offers a collection of statistics demonstrating that transit is more sustainable than driving alone. Obviously he has skin in the game, but federal and academic studies back him up. Here’s a page from a 2010 Federal Transit Administration report:


Here’s how the media is getting the whole cities & millennials story wrong (Grist)  

Bed Adler writes that the New York Times and other similar media are over-stating the migration of millennials back to cities from the ‘burbs – and the media is under-stating the reason why young sprouts are coming back to cities. It’s not entirely for art and culture, says Grist. It’s for ease of transportation that cities provide.

Interesting issue and I tend to agree with Ben. I’m writing this today from Cincinnati, Ohio (family business), where gentrification of downtown’s Over the Rhine area is underway, including a new streetcar line that is under construction. I grew up here and the number of old buildings that have been rehabbed is very noticeable and it’s hard not to interpret the gentrification as a direct response to the relentless march of sprawl and suburbs to the north. Cincinnati and Dayton were once two distinct metro areas. No more as their ‘burbs have merged.

Of course, many of us equate the ‘burbs with driving and cities with other transportation choices. But it’s not quite that easy. Almost all of the rehabbed buildings of Over the Rhine included parking and those lots were filled with some pretty pricey vehicles, Range Rovers included. I suppose the counter-argument is that city life probably reduces the need for all vehicles — including the fuel hogs — to be used.

Gentrification in Cincinnati includes parking. Photo by Steve Hymon.

Gentrification in downtown Cincinnati includes parking. Photo by Steve Hymon.


Everyday is Earth Day when it comes to Metro’s sustainability efforts

We know that taking public transportation is a great way to go green. But what you may not know is that Metro has a number of initiatives in the works that will make the agency even greener…which will make it easier for you to be green.

Metro’s current transit network and infrastructure requires approximately $70 million per year in energy costs to keep everything running. This includes electric and natural gas energy for facility operations and fuel. Energy needs will exponentially increase over the next few years as the system expands and costs are anticipated to increase to about $120 million per year once Expo Phase II, the Crenshaw/LAX Line and the Gold Line Foothill Extension open.

Red/Purple Line Westlake-McArthur Park Station WESS.

Red/Purple Line Westlake-McArthur Park Station WESS.

To reduce the fiscal impact of these expansions on the overall energy demand, Metro has been actively looking at ways to be more energy efficient. On the renewable energy front, Metro is currently developing flywheel technology energy projects at the Red/Purple Line Westlake-McArthur Park Station and near the Gold Line Avenue 61 location. The flywheel energy storage system is able to capture energy regenerated by trains as they brake into a station. Metro is also increasing solar panel installations to include the new bus Division 13, which is scheduled for completion in 2015. Collectively, these projects will contribute to the agency’s goal of 33 percent renewable energy use by 2020.

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