Summer Metro Motion explores unique So Cal journeys via Metro

In the summer edition of Metro Motion, we hear from two millennials – one a scientist, the other a teacher – and find out how climate change inspired their journeys to lives without cars. Sure, they’re saving money. But that’s not their point. They see public transit, bikes and walking as the best ways to take care of our ailing planet and ourselves.

Summer is here and that means peak produce and time for a trip to L.A.’s fabulous farmers markets via Metro. The produce and prepared food is primo and these modern markets offer tools to teach healthy eating and cooking skills.

Looking for the quintessential So Cal biking experience? Watch as cyclist Mike Ryan loads his bike onto the Expo Line to Culver City, jumps on the Ballona Creek Bike Path and cycles to Marina del Rey for a free concert with the ocean and the stars as backdrop. Beautiful!

We also travel back in time to bid a fond farewell to I-405 construction as the Sepulveda Pass Improvements Project opens the completed HOV lane. We look back at Carmageddon I and II, Rampjam and Jamzilla — and at the same time we look forward to smoother sailing through the pass.

Metro Motion runs quarterly on cable stations throughout Los Angeles County. It’s co-produced by Metro and Santa Monica City TV.

New light-rail car makes its first public appearance

Here’s a peek at the first Metro P3010 prototype rail car operating under power on the Kinkisharyo test track in Osaka, Japan. Note that it’s decked out in chic new colors that are attractive as well as eminently visible. And those colors will be enhanced, in the final design, with reflective side graphics.

A solo rail car traveling down a track may not seem all that engaging but to those of us counting the minutes until the new Kinkisharyo rail cars arrive, this video is pretty exciting.

The cars are much needed for the second phase of the Expo Line and the Gold Line Foothill Extension to Azusa. Expo 2 and Foothill are scheduled to open in early 2016; underscoring the need for new cars.

When a previous agreement with AnsaldoBreda — the Italian contractor originally hired to manufacture Metro Rail cars — failed, the car construction process was set back about two years. But Kikisharyo is working aggressively to deliver the cars quickly and to ensure they are of the highest quality.

As the test video indicates, car construction is carefully watched. Testing begins even before the cars are assembled, with progress monitored throughout design and construction. Currently, Metro staff is watching over something called “the floor fire test” (We can pretty much guess what that means) along with operation of the prototype vehicle.

All systems — a car is composed of numerous systems — must be tested and pass before the car can be delivered. But you can’t mess around with a rail car that must safely carry thousands throughout its hopefully long lifetime.

If all goes well in testing, this car and 23 others will arrive in L.A. by the end of 2015. After that, the cars will arrive at a rate of four per month until the contract for 78 new vehicles is complete. Metro has already exercised two of four options to buy an additional 97 vehicles to be used on other projects — the Crenshaw/LAX Line, the Regional Connector and fleet replacement. Final assembly of the rail cars will be at a new facility in Palmdale in the Antelope Valley

RELATED

New rail car designs in the works

Metro currently has three rail projects under construction: the Crenshaw/LAX Line, the second phase of the Expo Line and the Gold Line Foothill Extension. Work on two more rail projects, the Regional Connector and Purple Line, is expected to begin later this year. All are funded in part by Measure R, the half-cent sales tax increase approved by L.A. County voters in 2008. In addition, Metro has begun receiving the first of 550 new state-of-the-art buses and is spending $1.2 billion to overhaul the Metro Blue Line, including the purchase of new light rail vehicles..

Cool, new interactive Metro Information Tower debuts at Union Station

Kiosk (2 of 4)

Kiosk (4 of 4)

If you’re visiting Union Station on Saturday for the 75th anniversary festivities, please check out the new Metro Information Tower that looks a little like the monolith in “2001: A Space Odyssey” but doesn’t leave you guessing about its purpose in life.

The 17-foot tall interactive kiosk in the Union Station East Portal – there’s only one up and running so far but other, smaller demo kiosks will be around Union Station tomorrow — just might turn out to be your go-to travel tool. Please see the video posted below.

Touchscreen displays include a station guide, a timeline of Union Station history, nearby Metro Destination Discounts that are available to TAP card holders, Nextrip real-time arrivals, the Metro Trip Planner, Metro transit schedules and maps and variable options this weekend including Instagram uploads of Union Station photos hash-tagged with #LAUS75.

On May 3, the demo kiosk near the Information Booth in Union Station will run the only known footage of the 1939 Union Station opening. It was shot by famed Jiminy Cricket animator Ward Kimball.

Metro is also planning to install more touchscreen displays in the future at other Metro Rail stations as part of the Interactive Kiosk Pilot Program.

Related:

Here’s the lineup of entertainment for Union Station’s 75th anniversary

Metro announces new 75th anniversary commemorative TAP cards

 

Union Station: Forget private planes. Private rail is the way to go

This is the seventh 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.

Tucked in a low-profile corner of the Union Station complex are a half dozen or so glittery antique rail cars — several of which bear the iconic name, Pullman. This is the private parking lot for corporations and travelers who love the elegance of private rail car travel and have the money and time to spend on it. It’s one of only a handful of full-service private rail car facilities in the United States.

Among antique cars sometimes in residence is one owned by billionaire Jean Paul DeJoria, founder of Patron Tequila and co-founder of Paul Mitchell hair products. His luxury Patron Tequila Express car (see images above) has been carefully restored for his family’s private sojourns and as a rolling ambassador for Patron’s marketing and charitable efforts.

The 85-foot-long car, built in 1927, contains an observation parlor, dining room, bedrooms, marble bath with stained glass windows and a full kitchen capable of producing multi-course meals. The décor is eclectic, as the photos show, including gorgeous hand-carved wood panels from Kashmir.

To travel from one spot to another, the Patron car, like other private cars, books passage with Amtrak and is attached to the rail carrier’s regularly scheduled trains. The cars must be Amtrak-certified and there is a fee for this, as well as for parking. But if you own a private rail car, you may not worry much about the costs of travel and lodging. And you can save money on hotels.

Here’s more information … in case you’re planning a trip in your private rail car.

RELATED:

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

Union Station: a star on big screen and small screen

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

Return with us to 1939 … on Union Station’s Track 15

This morning at Track 15 Metro hosted a Union Station 75th Anniversary preview of events scheduled for this Saturday, May 3.

Metro Board Chair Diane DuBois and Metro CEO Art Leahy spoke from the back of a vintage rail car, as did Metro Board members Jacqueline Dupont-Walker and Ara Najarian, Michael Dwyer from Amtrak, Metrolink Board Chair Larry McCallon, Metrolink Board Member Richard Katz, Camille Lowry from the Annenberg Foundation and two men who attended the 1939 opening: Seymour Rosen and Jim Kaspar.

There were swing dancers and singers and a few fourth graders from Utah Street Elementary School, who showed up to share their dreams of what the Union Station of the future should look like.

It was a grand event in preparation for an even grander one this Saturday, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., as Metro and Metrolink joined Amtrak for a preview of Union Station’s 75th Anniversary celebration and Amtrak’s National Train day. Please click here for more details and the day’s schedule of events.

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:

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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.

RELATED:

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

Union Station: A classic on both big screen and small

This is the fifth of 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. 

With its dramatic angles and dark corners, Union Station is a black-and-white noir fantasy. Yet like a character actor who is aging well, the building has played many types of roles over the past 75 years in hundreds of films, TV shows and commercials.

If you were watching TV during the December holidays you probably caught the Mercedes Benz commercial posted above. Shot in the beautiful Union Station Ticket Room, it’s decked out as Santa’s garage and it looks stellar. And the cars? Amazing!

A few months ago in the TV series “Agents of SHIELD,” hacker Skye (Why does everyone think she’s so hot?) is kidnapped and taken to Union Station so her abductor can escape by train. (Go to minute 35.) She emails SHIELD her longitude and latitude, although she probably could have just said she was at Union Station. No matter. The agents catch up with her in the gorgeous Ticket Room and finally all advance to the East Portal where the SHIELD crew rescues Skye so she can live to hack and be hot again.

In Paramount’s beautiful 1950 noir film “Union Station,” starring William Holden, the station doubles as Chicago Union Station. It does not look much like its Chicago namesake but it does look incredible. And it’s amusing to see a few amenities that no longer exist, like phone booths and a luggage check room in the main concourse. No more phone booths, of course, and no more baggage checking in these days of increased security. You’ll love the trailer:

All areas of Union Station have been backdrops for films but the massive Ticket Room has played significant parts in dozens. In Ridley Scott’s sci-fi thriller “Blade Runner,” set in 2019, the Ticket Room is a police station and Harrison Ford looks like Indy. “Pearl Harbor” contains a romantic farewell in the Ticket Room. In the latest Batman adventure, “The Dark Knight Rises,” the Ticket Room is site of the kangaroo court overseen by Dr. Jonathan Crane, aka the Scarecrow:

What will future roles be for this versatile performer? Stay tuned. The station is also frequently used for music videos — the subject of our next post.

For more Union Station films credits check metro.net (yes, we know the list needs updating!). For Union Station booking guidelines, click here. For more information on booking the station as a shooting location, please contact Jeff Cooper at Hollywood Locations jcooper@hollywoodlocations.com.

RELATED:

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 man worthy of respect

This is the fourth of 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. 

Amtrak conductor Irv Hirsch

Amtrak conductor Irv Hirsch. Photo by Kim Upton/Metro

He’s an Amtrak conductor based at Union Station and has been since 1974. But among his fondest memories is his time as a porter on the trains between L.A. and Chicago.

“I still have my old card that says I’m a member of the Brotherhood of Railroad Sleeping Car Porters – the historic Black union,” he recalled. “If you were a Pullman sleeping car porter you were a man worthy of respect.”

As a porter, Irv Hirsch was in charge of one car. Each cubicle was a seating room during the day. It was converted by the porters to sleeping berths at night. A porter in those days was bellman, maid, upstairs waiter and concierge to the travelers in his car, in Hirsch’s case, on the Amtrak Southwest Chief’s 43-hour trip between Los Angeles and Chicago. The African American porters were men of distinction, Hirsch said, who would have thrived in any career. They were proud of their positions and he was proud to be among the few white porters at the time.

Continue reading