Photos by Anna Chen/Metro
Metro participated in Antelope Valley Transit Authority‘s dedication ceremony of the Phase II Facilities Project today. The construction expanded their original maintenance and operations facility in Lancaster. Metro provided $5.555 million in funding for the original facility through the 2001 Call for Projects and contributed $799,344 to Phase II through the Municipal Operators Service Improvement Program (MOSIP).
The expansion project includes a new board room/community room, solar car ports that will generate 100% of the facility’s electricity needs and five new bus maintenance bays. Phase II allows AVTA to be able to support the region’s growing transportation needs and provide future connections to Metrolink, the Palmdale Airport, the proposed XpressWest and High Speed Rail.
As we mentioned in a post around the time of the Expo Line’s opening to La Cienega, Santa Monica’s Big Blue Bus has rerouted three of its bus lines to improve service between Culver City Station and major West L.A. destinations. And last week we touched on what changes Culver City Bus lines is making to its service in this post.
In case you need a quick refresher on the Big Blue Bus service changes, here’s a quick rundown:
Big Blue Bus Line 5 — Now connecting Culver City Expo Station to downtown Santa Monica via Century City
Big Blue Bus Route 5. Click the image for a high resolution PDF of the map and timetable.
Formerly this line connected downtown Santa Monica to Rimpau Terminal in Mid City via Century City. Now? Buses on Line 5 heading towards Santa Monica will leave from Culver City Expo Station and jog up towards Century City via Robertson Boulevard.
Big Blue Bus Line 12 – Now connecting Culver City Expo Station to UCLA via Palms and Westwood
Big Blue Bus Route 12 (and Super 12 in pink). Click the image for a high resolution PDF of the map and timetable.
To connect the Expo Line to Westwood and UCLA, Big Blue Bus will change the southern terminus of its popular Route 12 to Culver City Station. Furthermore, the current “Super 12″ service — a rush-hour only service featuring a streamlined route to campus and fewer stops — will be converted to a Rapid 12. Both the “regular” 12 and the Rapid 12 lines will travel from the Culver City station, through Palms and up Westwood Boulevard to the Westwood Village and the UCLA campus.
Good to note: Riding these Big Blue Bus lines requires a separate fare — a $.35 transfer you can buy from a Metro ticket vending machines at any station — and the agency currently does not accept TAP cards. More fare info is available here.
Metro and Foothill Transit just picked up an award from the South Coast Air Quality Management District for “Promotion of Good Environmental Stewardship.”
The award honors Metro’s switch to 100 percent alternative fuels earlier this year, which made it the first major transit agency in the world to operate only CNG-fueled buses. Here’s the excerpt from the news release:
Award for Promotion of Good Environmental Stewardship – Foothill Transit and Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA):
Foothill Transit, which serves 21 cities in the San Gabriel and Pomona valleys, began purchasing CNG buses in 2002 and has almost exclusively purchased CNG buses ever since. Foothill aims to have a 100 percent Clean Air fleet by 2013. Foothill Transit also has deployed three zero-emission fast-charge Ecoliner buses since 2010. In addition to having zero tailpipe emissions and using renewable energy, the Ecoliner’s unique structure, recyclable batteries and long life make its carbon footprint one of the lowest of any transit buses today.
When MTA officially retired its last diesel bus in January 2011, the public transit agency became the nation’s largest operator of a compressed natural gas fleet with 2,221 buses. Metro’s emission reduction efforts have brought about an 80 percent reduction in cancer-causing particulates and a reduction in greenhouse gases by more than 300,000 pounds a day. In addition, Metro has been an environmental steward in other ways, with the largest solar panel installation in the transit industry.
The entire news release from the AQMD is after the jump.
The new 60-foot Rapid 7 bus turning left from Wilshire onto Western in front of the Wiltern Theater.
As we noted in May, Santa Monica’s Big Blue Bus had plans to shake up its service to improve connections with Metro Rail. Well those changes — detailed here [PDF] — went live on Sunday and there’s some good news for Metro riders.
The BBB has extended the eastern terminus of its Rapid 7 line from Rimpau Terminal to the Wilshire/Western Metro Rail station. And to help boost capacity on the popular line, Big Blue Bus has added 16 60-foot articulated buses to the fleet. They’re the same sort that you can find on the busier Metro Rapid lines, but clad in striking royal blue.
So with that in mind, I decided to try out the new service yesterday morning en route to Metro headquarters from my apartment just south of Pico Boulevard in Santa Monica. Continue reading
In a post earlier today we told you about a $6.6 million federal grant to help fund Metrolink’s efforts to install Positive Train Control (PTC) along its commuter rail system.
But what is PTC exactly? This informative video from Metrolink features some nice computer animation that explains how system works.
In a nutshell: a network of computers and GPS technology connect trains, signals and central offices to ensure the safest possible operation of trains.
Metrolink has launched a new mobile website that allows its patrons to access vital information about the commuter rail system while on the go.
A Google Maps enhanced trip planner, service updates from Twitter, schedules, a system map and station information are all accessible from the new mobile-friendly interface.
I gave the site a whirl from my iPhone and I have to say – I’m impressed. Pointing the iPhone’s browser to metrolinktrains.com, the same URL used to access the full-fledged site, automatically loads the mobile site.
The home page is simple in the best way possible. Eight large, touch-friendly buttons make navigating the site a breeze. Each section loads quickly and seem perfectly optimized for the smartphone. The service alerts page in particular looks like it will be of great use to Metrolink riders who don’t follow the agency on Twitter.
In a press release, posted after the jump, Metrolink calls the site a beta release – but clearly the agency did their homework before launching this one.
On a side note: Metro’s own mobile site has received a quiet update. Service alerts from Twitter are now featured prominently on the home page and a tab has been added for news which features the latest headlines from The Source. Check it out on the mobile web at m.metro.net. Continue reading
I was browsing my old blog, MetroRiderLA (which is still regularly updated by the way, just not by me), and came across a link to this video from commenter TonyW79SFW who recorded it off television in April of 2006.
In the video ABC news reporters warn commuters of the inevitable traffic jams of a “treacherous” rainy day commute as a San Bernardino Metrolink train glides smoothly down the middle of the 10 Freeway.
What I love about this video in addition to the obvious – that rail is unencumbered by the many variables that cause traffic jams – is how the aerial shot also highlights the massive amount of space we devote to moving cars and trucks.
The Metrolink tracks are just a sliver compared to the 10 lanes of freeway that surround them.
Matt Raymond, Metro’s Chief Communications Officer, issued this response to today’s story in the Daily News about TAP cards and the gating system at Metro rail stations:
Chucking Metro’s TAP smart card fare program as some critics suggest is like throwing the baby out with the bath water. TAP is working as evidenced by more than 15 million transactions a month. Customers like it because they can load their cards online, replace their fare value if they lose their cards, it speeds boardings and, eventually, will lead to seamless travel on a multitude of transit carriers in LA County.
Ridership data yielded by TAP is helping Metro better tailor service to meet demand, and the gated rail stations – only a small part of the TAP program – already has enhanced security and reduced fare evasion even if the gates aren’t yet locked. Incidentally, the gate installation was only completed one month ago.
Metro Chief Communications Officer
As we reported last year, a regional 511 trip-planning website — along with phone service — has been under development. It’s still not fully baked, but has come far enough along that transit officials in Southern California are officially launching the service this Monday.
The Go511 website is still in its test phase — it’s actually online now — and officials are hoping for feedback from the public; I’m particularly interested in how the trip planner works. A mobile site still needs to be developed.
Attentive readers will recall that Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa recently introduced a motion asking for a true regional trip planner and it will be interesting to see if the new Go511 website fits the bill. There are links to other transit agency websites and there’s also traffic and vanpool information.
By means of comparison, here’s a link to the San Francisco region’s 511 website, which has a good mobile site.
And here’s the press release about So Cal’s 511 service:
Call 511 or Visit Go511.com
Transportation officials from Metro, Orange and Ventura counties joined Caltrans and CHP today in introducing a new automated toll-free phone and Internet service that provides 24/7 on demand updates on traffic, trip planning for public transit or connections with car or vanpools throughout Southern California. Continue reading
In an effort to increase public safety Metrolink has announced that Amtrak will take over operations of its commuter rail system this summer. Amtrak’s experience, safety record and level of service are cited as reasons for the new partnership. The contract has Amtrak operating Metrolink trains for the next four years, with the potential for two three-year extensions.
Amtrak operated Metrolink trains for 1992 to 2005 after which Veolia Transport took over. Veolia’s contract expires in June.
Read the full press release on the Metrolink blog.