Monday’s Zocalo forum will ask: Is traffic L.A.’s destiny? (We certainly hope not!)

Metro photo

Metro photo

What could speed up traffic? We all have opinions, of course. But at 7:30 p.m. Monday at the Petersen Automotive Museum some pretty good minds will tackle the subject as part of a Zocalo Public Square forum. The forum is free and open to the public. Reservations are recommended.

Here’s how the Zocalo website describes it:

When people say that death and taxes are the only certain things in life, they are forgetting about Southern California traffic. Despite freeway widening and highway construction and newly synchronized streetlights, there’s still not enough room on the roads. We now get accident reports in real time and can change our routes to avoid jams, but Angelenos still spend more time in traffic than other Americans. However, there is more change still to come. The region is in the early stages of a 30-year transit transformation that began with the passage of Measure R in 2008, a sales tax increase that is funding a wide range of transportation projects. Will express lanes, fewer potholes, and improved interchanges speed drivers along? And will new rail lines, improved bus service, and bike lanes finally get millions of people out of their cars? L.A. Business Council president Mary Leslie, UCLA Institute of Transportation Studies director Brian D. Taylor, Fixing Angelenos Stuck in Traffic executive director Hilary Norton, and Metro CEO Art Leahy visit Zócalo to ask whether traffic is forever L.A.’s destiny. KCRW traffic reporter Kajon Cermak will moderate.

What could speed up traffic? Taking Metro bus 720 or 20 down Wilshire or the 217 down Fairfax to the Monday night forum could help. Find out more at the forum.

Zocalo is an L.A. based not-for-profit group that blends live events with written and broadcast journalism. Metro and Zocalo are co-presenting the event.

Follow these swans to Swan Lake at the Music Center Oct. 9-12

In 1966, the Music Center presented Rudolf Nureyev and Margot Fonteyn with The Australian Ballet on the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion stage. Now, in celebration of the Music Center’s 50th Anniversary, Glorya Kaufman Presents Dance at The Music Center is bringing Swan Lake and the legendary dance company back for a special engagement from October 9 through Oct. 12.

Getting to the Music Center via Metro is easy…so easy even swans can do it. The video below features four local ballet students performing the iconic ‘Four Little Swans’ dance at Los Angeles Union Station.

The dancers in the video are Michelle Lemburg, Bella Hoy, Jolie Moray and Katie Brady. In addition to studying ballet, Michelle, Jolie and Katie have also participated in the Music Center Spotlight Awards program, a scholarship program recognizing exceptional high school students in the performing arts. More photos of the lovely dancers at Union Station can be found at Metro’s Flickr page!

Go Metro to Swan Lake and save 20 percent on select seats for the matinee performance on October 11 at 1:30 p.m. Just show your valid TAP card at the box office, or use Metro’s exclusive promo code if purchasing tickets online. To get to the Music Center, use the Red/Purple Line Civic Center/Grand Park Station. There are also numerous buses that serve the Music Center on Hope Street and Grand Avenue. For more routes and connections, use the Metro Trip Planner or Google Transit.

Listen to Metro’s Social Media Week panel on how Metro uses social media to connect with riders

First, a big thank you to our panelists and everyone who attended yesterday’s “Metro Moves Forward: Engaging Customers of Public Transportation in L.A.” event at Union Station. The presentation and panel discussion were part of Social Media Week.

Above is the 49-minute panel discussion. I accidentally deleted a few seconds at the beginning (blame Garageband please!) in which my colleague Anna Chen introduces herself and explains how she landed her gig at Metro. The panelists are frequent Metro riders who also often write about transit and their experiences on Metro:

Alissa Walker is the Urbanism Editor at Gizmodo where she writes about cities, architecture, transportation, and technology and she blogs at awalkerinla.com. She is on the steering committee of Los Angeles Walks and relishes life in Los Angeles without a car. Follow her at @awalkerinLA. And you may want to read (or re-read) her great #lahaters series in which Alissa exposes the dumb stereotypes that media-types like to write, rinse and repeat about Los Angeles and the surrounding area.

Gann Matsuda covers the Los Angeles Kings and the National Hockey League at Frozenroyalty.net and uses the Expo Line to travel to and from Staples Center. He is also a member of the Professional Hockey Writers Association. Follow him at @frozenroyalty. Check out his recent series on how Kings General Manager Dean Lombardi built a team that has won the Stanley Cup twice in the past three seasons (part one and part two). Short answer: draft young talent and develop them, something I think works at non-sports organizations, too.

Steven White is the Content and Media Manager for Bounce AEG. He manages digital media and social media projects for live events. A graduate of the USC School of Cinematic Arts, Steve lives in Downtown Los Angeles and regularly rides Metro for all of his transportation needs. Follow him at @stevenmwhite. Steve provided valuable input to Metro’s TAP team earlier this year when they were designing new screen prompts for the agency’s ticket machines (the prompts are due to debut later this year, btw).

Photos by Steve Hymon/Metro. If you need a Metro-related pic to use on the web, these are available for download at a variety of sizes at our Flickr page — along with a variety of other images.

Metrolink runs USC Football Express from The OC for Saturday’s game versus Beavers

USC fans hope the Beavers don't chop down what's left of their college football playoff hopes after the devastating Stanford loss. Photo by Mark Round, via Flickr creative commons.

USC (2-1) fans hope the Beavers (3-0) don’t chop down what’s left of their college football playoff hopes after the devastating loss to Boston College earlier this season. Photo by Mark Round, via Flickr creative commons.

Here’s the news release from Metrolink:

USC Football Express to take fans from Orange County to Los Angeles

Fans can save time and money by taking Metrolink Sept. 27 to Oregon State game

LOS ANGELES – Football fans are encouraged to ride the USC Football Express to and from Los Angeles Union Station for the Saturday, Sept. 27 game between No. 18 USC and the undefeated Oregon State Beavers at 7:30 p.m.

The Orange County Transportation Authority (OCTA) is funding the special Metrolink train service to and from the Saturday night game. Orange County Line train 6507 will depart Oceanside at 3:15 p.m., making 11 convenient station stops before a 5:25 p.m. Union Station arrival.

Metrolink riders can purchase the always low-priced $10 Weekend Day Pass, which allows passengers to ride anytime, anywhere system-wide on either Saturday or Sunday.

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Go Metro to the Long Beach Folk Revival Festival and save $3 on admission

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The second annual Long Beach Folk Revival Festival takes place on Saturday, September 27 from 11 a.m. through 10 p.m. at Rainbow Lagoon Park. Festival goers will have a gaggle of events to participate in including a pie eating contest and the instrument petting zoo!

Be sure to show your valid TAP card at the box office on the day of the festival and save $3 off of regular $20 admission!

Keep in mind the current Blue Line construction as you plan your trip to the festival. Take the Metro Blue Line to Anaheim Street Station and transfer to the free bus shuttle that will take you to Pacific and Ocean in Downtown Long Beach. From there, it’s a short walk down South Pine Avenue until you reach Shoreline Drive. Or you can hop on one of the Passport Buses to complete your trip. For more routes and connections, use the Trip Planner.

Tour Metro electric bus at AltCar Expo, September 19-20

One of five new electric buses ordered by Metro and build by BYD will be on display at Altcar Expo. Photo Credit: BYD

One of the five new electric buses ordered by Metro and manufactured by BYD will be on display at the AltCar Expo. Photo Credit: BYD

The 9th Annual AltCar Expo will be taking place Friday and Saturday, September 19 and 20 at the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium. Admission is free and the expo runs from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. both days. The expo features presentations and demonstrations of the latest advancements in alternative technology vehicles, transportation, and energy efficiency. Don’t miss out on a tour of the all-new electric bus on display presented by Metro!

As an added bonus for Metro riders, those who show their valid TAP cards at the AltCar info booth will receive a raffle ticket for a chance to win a free Nissan LEAF rental! The winner will be announced after the event, and you must be present at the time of the raffle to claim the prize.

To get to the auditorium, take Metro Bus 534 to Olympic/5th and walk south on 4th Street. Santa Monica’s Big Blue Bus is another option; for more routes and connections use the Trip Planner. Free bike valet will also be offered at the event.

Reminder: new Metro fares take effect on Monday, Sept. 15

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As most of hopefully know by now, Metro’s fares are increasing effective Monday morning. The regular $1.50 fare will increase to $1.75 on Monday — but the new fare will also include two hours of free transfers for those that pay for riding with a TAP card.

That’s a key departure from the current fare system that requires everyone to pay a full fare every time they transfer.

All riders should consider whether it’s less expensive to pay per Metro trip or whether they need a pass. A quick example: if you only ride Metro between home and work and back home each weekday, it would be cheaper to pay $1.75 per trip (or $3.50 a day) rather than buy a monthly pass.

On the other hand, if you are a heavy user of the Metro system that rides multiple times a day or uses Metro buses and trains every day, a pass will remain the better option (albeit at a higher price than currently).

Where to buy a TAP card? At ticket machines at all Metro Rail and Orange Line stations, online at taptogo.net or at the 400 or so locations in Los Angeles County that sells them.

Here are two answers to two obvious questions about the new fares:

How do the free transfers work? The two hour free transfer period begins when you first tap your TAP card when boarding a bus or at a Metro Rail station. You can transfer as many times as needed in that two hour window for free with one key exception: you can’t ride the same bus or train line consecutively on the same fare. In plain English: no round-trips on the same fare. Please also continue to tap your TAP card before boarding each bus or train. 

What happens Monday to those who are currently riding on a valid weekly, monthly or EZ Pass? The short answer: nothing, your current pass will remain valid until it expires. You will pay the new higher price when purchasing your next pass.

I know many riders will have other questions. Please see this FAQ on metro.net or leave a question on our comments board and we will try to answer promptly. Please no comments or long arguments about different fare systems — we’ve already had plenty of that on the blog. You can also ask us questions on Twitter or Facebook. Please use the hashtag: #newfares

I also want to emphasize: please click here to see if you are eligible for Metro’s “Rider Relief” fares that provide up to a $10 discount on transit passes. The Rider Relief coupons for seniors and students provide savings on top of already reduced rates. Eligibility is determined by household income and the number of occupants in a household.

Please, please, please — check to see if you are eligible for a discount. There’s no point in paying more than you should and these discounts are available for one simple reason: there’s a lot of low-income folks who need them and the discounts help enhance mobility in our region. If you know of someone who may qualify, please pass along this information!

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