First Metro Art tour of the year takes place tonight

If your New Year’s resolution is to get to know L.A. a little bit better, don’t waste any time: come join Metro Art Moves tonight at 5:30 p.m.

Meet at the information booth inside the Alameda Street entrance to Union Station. The art tour ends around 7 p.m. at the Downtown on Ice skating rink at Pershing Square (see photo above!), which offers $1 off admission for Metro riders who show their valid TAP cards at the admission window.

If you can’t make it tonight, there are more tours taking place this weekend! The regular year-round weekend tours begin this Saturday and Sunday.

On Saturday, Jan. 4, meet at the street level entrance of the Red Line Hollywood/Highland Station. On Sunday, meet at the information booth inside the Alameda Street entrance to Union Station. Both tours start at 10 a.m. and end at 12 p.m.

January Metro Service Council meetings preview

Metro Service Councils are ringing in the new year with four January meetings. The San Fernando Valley Service Council will not meet in January as their regular meeting would have been on New Year’s Day. The other four Councils will hold their meetings on the usual days and times, as listed below.

January Metro Service Council meeting details are provided below. Please note that some of the presentations listed are tentative at the time of this posting. In addition to the monthly report from Metro Service Council Director Jon Hillmer, all Councils will receive updates on the February public hearing schedule, Fare Forums that are being targeted for March (originally scheduled for February, but moved back one month) meetings, and a presentation on Metro’s “Seniors On The Move” program, which is aimed educating older adults about using public transit. Other agenda items at Council meetings this month include:

San Fernando Valley – MEETING CANCELLED due to conflict with New Year’s Holiday (Jan 1). Next meeting will be Wednesday, February 5.

Westside/Central (5 p.m., Wednesday, 1/8) – Presentation on Santa Monica Blvd. / 3rd Street Corridor Studies update; Presentation on Metro’s Accident Reduction program.

Gateway Cities (2 p.m., Thursday, 1/9 –Swearing in of new Gateway Cities Service Council member Aja Brown, Mayor of Compton; recognition of accomplishments at the Artesia Blue Line Station for Lt. Leo Bauer and Long Beach Transit Operations Supervisor Mike Wilson; update on Blue Line gate latching; update on (new) location for February Gateway Cities meeting and public hearing.

South Bay (9:30 a.m., Friday, 1/10) – Presentation on Metro’s Bike Program; update on upcoming Green Line gate latching.

San Gabriel Valley (5 p.m., Monday, 1/13) – Summary of November’s Line 485 workshop; Metro’s Customer Complaint process.

In February, four of the five Service Councils will be conducting public hearings to receive comments from the public on proposed service changes that, if approved, would go into effect in June 2014. Because none of the proposed major service changes are proposed in the SouthBay region, that Service Council will not hold a public hearing. Details on the proposed June ’14 service changes and February hearings are posted on Metro’s web page. The public will also be notified about public hearings and proposed changes through media releases, rider notices placed on buses and trains, and other means.

Also At all February March (moved back one month from Feb to March) Service Council meetings, there will be a Fare Forum (Please note that .  Attendees will be able to express their opinions on a potential transit fare adjustment and offer their suggested alternatives.  All comments will be recorded and provided to the Metro Board of Directors for their consideration.

For a detailed listing of all Council meeting dates, times and locations, click here. As always, the public is encouraged to attend and share their comments with the Service Councils on improving bus service throughout LA County. If you would like to provide input to a Council but cannot attend a meeting, you can submit your comments in writing through the Service Council web page or send them by email. If your comments are for a specific Council, please make sure to indicate which one you are addressing in your e-mail.

Advisory: seating area at Union Station now open only to Amtrak and Metrolink passengers

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UPDATE, 1:50 P.M. WEDNESDAY: Metro is working on creating a smaller waiting area for BoltBus and Megabus customers. 

Los Angeles Union Station patrons may have noticed a change that went into effect Monday: the seating area at the front of the facility is now available only for passengers with tickets to board Amtrak or Metrolink trains within two hours of their departure times.

Union Station is owned by Metro and agency officials say the change was prompted by an increased number of homeless individuals who have been using Union Station as shelter — an average of 135 per night in recent weeks (numbers were higher over the summer). That, in turn, has at times created extremely unpleasant sanitary issues in the seating area that in some cases posed a health threat to passengers using the station.

Metro had been receiving complaints about the number of homeless in the station for quite some time and over the past summer began trying to find some remedies to the issue, said Ken Pratt, the director of Los Angeles Union Station Property Management for Metro. That has included bringing in workers from the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority who have been meeting with homeless individuals to try to connect them to shelters, potential housing opportunities as well as psychological and medical care.

The new rules for the seating area are part of a pilot program. Security guards will be checking tickets in the seating area. The seats are not open to Metro riders because Metro bus and rail service at the station is frequent compared to long-distance and commuter rail offered by Amtrak and Metrolink.

The pilot program comes as Metro is beginning more work to restore Union Station, which opened in 1939. In coming weeks, some of the seats in the waiting area will be removed so that wood and metal materials can be reconditioned.

“All this really comes down to this question: who does Union Station really serve?,” Pratt said. “Our customers were being accosted and couldn’t even use the restroom at times because people have been camping in there. We really are trying to do this on two fronts — not just enforcement, but with outreach to homeless in the area surrounding Union Station to bring people to services they need and services to individuals. We are trying very hard to figure things out and working to solve this problem in the right way.”


Coffee tastes better and is more likely to wake you up when served in new Metro mug available in new Metro store!

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Isn’t she lovely? The 15-ounce mug was added today to the new Metro online store. At $6.75, it’s just screaming to be stuffed into stockings or squirreled away for next year’s Chanukah.

Long Beach through the eyes of artist Christine Nguyen

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Have you spotted the latest poster from the popular Through the Eyes of Artists series riding rail and bus? Long Beach artist Christine Nguyen designed an imaginary, underwater dreamscape that playfully intertwines jellyfish, sea vegetation and caves with iconic Long Beach landmarks, including the Astronaut Islands, El Dorado Nature Center and the Walter Pyramid at California State University, Long Beach.

Metro commissions local artists to create original artworks for the Through the Eyes of Artists poster series, which expresses the uniqueness of Los Angeles County neighborhoods, as a way of encouraging people to take Metro to explore destinations served by the agency. The newest design, celebrating Long Beach, is the 30th poster in the series.

For more information about this award winning series and to view all 30 posters, click here.

Union Station has starring role in new Pharrell Williams 24-hour video for ‘Happy’

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At the risk of sounding like I’m aware of current trends in pop culture, you simply must drop everything and watch Pharrell Williams’ new music video for his song “Happy.”

It’s not just a regular video — it’s a 24-hour video featuring different people dancing to the song across Los Angeles. That includes more than a dozen different people dancing at Metro-owned Los Angeles Union Station beginning at 9:53 a.m. of the video’s 24-hour clock.

Screen grabs are above of the different dancers (I think I got most of them). The video was filmed earlier this year.

P.S. If the dancer at 9:57 a.m. would like to be extensively interviewed for The Source, click here to reach me.

Then & Now: Vermont & 8th, 1950 vs 2013

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Our latest installment in our Then & Now series takes us to the intersection of 8th & Vermont in Los Angeles. The top photo was taken Sept. 2, 1950. I took the bottom photo last month, so roughly 63 years later.

What’s changed? The Bank of America building is there still — sans the bank and now under a coating of stucco or stucco-like substance. The church is still there, too — now with solar panels.

The old Los Angeles Transit Lines streetcar is, of course, gone to the mists of time. Matching the photos was a bit difficult as the Vermont bus no longer turns west onto 8th Street. But you get the idea.

Again we find that a lot of Los Angeles’ past has survived into the 21st century. I think in some ways that’s a good thing — but it sure would be nice to see a lot less stucco and newer buildings a little more architecturally inspired than the apartment building in the bottom photo between the old bank building and the church.

RELATED POSTS:

Then & Now: 11th & Broadway, the land that time forgot

Then & Now: a streetcar and a bus on Brand Boulevard in Glendale

Photo gallery: streetcars in Los Angeles in the 1940s in glorious black and white

Then & Now: downtown Sierra Madre

Then & Now: In L.A. getting rid of streetcars easier than getting rid of billboards

Then & Now: a streecar and a bus in Highland Park, 1955 and 2013

Then & Now: streetcars along the Crenshaw/LAX Line alignment

Then & Now: a streetcar and a bus on Florence Avenue in Inglewood, 1955 and 2013