End of an era: Metro to retire its last high-floor buses on August 30

This type of high-floor bus, used by the transit industry for more than 100 years, required bus patrons to negotiate several steps before boarding.

This type of high-floor bus, used by the transit industry for more than 100 years, required bus patrons to negotiate steps before boarding.

Today’s Metro buses feature low-floor designs for faster, easier boardings and alightings.

Today’s Metro buses feature low-floor designs for faster, easier boardings and alightings.

Adios bus stairs, here comes the “Low Rider.”

Bus riders in Los Angeles County will no longer have to climb stairs to board a Metro Bus on any of Metro’s 170 bus lines beginning August 30. That’s the date when Metro will be officially retiring its very last high-floor transit buses and replacing them with “low-floor” buses.

That’s a notable milestone in the history of local transit. High-floor buses were employed by transit operators since the inception of motorized transit buses and Metro, as well as its predecessor agencies, have operated high-floor buses for decades. Climbing steps to board a bus has been the common experience of multiple generations of bus riders.

“Los Angeles, as well as most of the world, has had high floor buses for well over 100 years,” said Richard Famighetti, maintenance operations manager for Metro Divisions 6 and 7. “We are marking the end of a significant era that helped characterize public transportation in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Retiring these buses is a truly a historic change for Metro.”

(Video after the jump!)

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Pics of overhead wires being installed on Gold Line Foothill Extension!

The folks at the Gold Line Foothill Extension Construction Authority sent over the above pics of the overhead catenary wires being installed along the project’s tracks. The wires, as you likely know, deliver the electricity that powers the trains.

The above images were taken on the stretch of tracks that run in the middle of the 210 freeway just east of the Gold Line’s current terminus at Sierra Madre Villa Station in eastern Pasadena.

The Construction Authority, an independent agency, is building the 11.5-mile addition to the Gold Line that will extend tracks to the Azusa/Glendora border with stations in Arcadia, Monrovia, Duarte, Irwindale, downtown Azusa and adjacent to Citrus College and Azusa Pacific University near the Azusa/Glendora border. The project, which also includes a rail car maintenance campus in Monrovia, is funded by Measure R, the half-cent sales tax approved by Los Angeles County voters in 2008.

Construction on the project is on time and on budget with work scheduled to be complete in about a year. The project will subsequently be turned over to Metro, which currently forecasts an opening in early 2016.

Draft environmental document released for Eastside Gold Line phase 2 project

Eastside Map

Metro released the draft environmental study today for a project that could potentially extend the Gold Line from East Los Angeles to South El Monte or Whittier. In addition, the study also looks at a Transportation Systems Management (TSM) alternative which identifies potential bus upgrades and the legally required no-build option.

Click here to access the entire draft study, which is also known as the Draft EIS/EIR.

Metro will conduct four public hearings during the 60-day formal comment period, each of which will include a 30 minute open house where the public can view the Draft EIS/EIR, see project displays, get more information on the project and talk to Metro staff. Meeting date and times are: 

Saturday, September 27, 2014
Pico Rivera Senior Center
9200 Mines Avenue
Pico Rivera, CA 90660
Open House: 9am
Public Hearing: 9:30am – 11:30am

Monday, September 29, 2014
Quiet Cannon Banquet Center
901 Via San Clemente
Montebello, CA 90640
Open House: 5:30pm
Public Hearing: 6pm – 8pm

Tuesday, September 30, 2014
Uptown Whittier Senior Center
13225 Walnut Street
Whittier, CA 90602
Open House: 5:30pm
Public Hearing: 6pm – 8pm

Wednesday, October 1, 2014
South El Monte Senior Center
1556 Central Avenue
South El Monte, CA 91733
Open House: 5:30pm
Public Hearing: 6pm – 8pm

The study process has been closely watched by communities along both potential light rail routes as an extended Gold line would provide an alternative to driving on the frequently congested 60 freeway or traffic in communities along the Washington Boulevard alignment. The two light rail options, shown above, would both begin at the Metro Gold Line Eastside Extension’s current terminus at Atlantic and Pomona boulevards in East Los Angeles.

•The “SR 60″ Alternative would extend the Gold Line for 6.9 miles to South El Monte with four proposed new stations. The train would run adjacent to the 60 freeway, mostly on aerial structures, and include four new stations serving Monterey Park, Montebello and South El Monte.

•The “Washington Boulevard” Alternative would extend the Gold Line for 9.5 miles to Whittier with six proposed new stations. The train would follow the 60 freeway and then turn south, running on an aerial structure above Garfield Avenue until turning east on Washington Boulevard and ending near the intersection of Washington and Lambert Road. This alternative would serve Monterey Park, Montebello, Pico Rivera and Whittier.

Estimated ridership for the SR 60 alternative is 16,700 boardings each weekday with a cost estimate of $1.271 billion to $1.296 billion in 2010 dollars, according to the draft study. Estimated ridership for the Washington Boulevard alternative is 19,900 daily boardings per weekday with an estimated cost of $1.425 billion to $1.661 billion in 2010 dollars.

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Construction: Mountain Avenue & Duarte Road intersection closed this weekend

Below is the work notice from the Gold Line Foothill Extension Construction Authority, the agency building the 11.5-mile project that will extend the Gold Line from eastern Pasadena to the Azusa/Glendora border. The project, funded by Measure R, is currently scheduled to open in early 2016. The work notice:

WHO:  Residents / Commuters / Businesses in the Cities of Monrovia and Duarte.

WHAT: Construction of the new light rail street-level grade crossing at Mountain Ave just north of Duarte Rd will be completed this week, two months ahead of schedule. Crews will be transitioning work on Mountain Ave to the second phase, which will require a full closure of the southern half of Duarte Rd on Mountain Ave for approximately three months. The second phase of work is needed to realign the intersection to improve visibility for the traveling public and future trains, as well as install new storm drains, traffic signals, sidewalks and crosswalks.

To prepare the two streets for the second phase of work, a full weekend closure of the Mountain Ave/Duarte Rd Intersection will take place this coming weekend – Friday, August 22 at 9 p.m. through Sunday, August 24 at 9 p.m. (24-hours a day). The intersection of Mountain Ave and Duarte Rd will be fully closed to traffic in all directions during this weekend’s closure.

WHEN:

-        Full Weekend Intersection Closure:
Friday, August 22, 2014 at 9:00 p.m. thru Sunday, August 24, 2014 at 9:00 p.m.: The intersection of Mountain Ave and Duarte Rd will be closed to thru-traffic to reconfigure the traffic lanes and prepare for the second phase of work at the intersection. On August 24 at 9:00 p.m., the northern portion of the Mountain Ave/Duarte Rd intersection will fully re-open, as will one lane of traffic in each direction on Duarte Rd. The southern portion of the intersection will be closed, for approximately three months.

-        Three-Month Closure of Mountain Ave South of Duarte Rd:
Sunday, August 24, 2014 at 9:00 p.m. thru November 2014: Mountain Ave will be closed to thru-traffic from the center of Duarte Rd south through the intersection. Duarte Rd will remain open, one lane of traffic in each direction. The approximate three-month closure will be in place 24-hours per day, seven days per week. Crews will work extended work shifts from 6:00 a.m. to 12:00 midnight, Monday thru Friday, in order to expedite this work. Occasional work on weekends may be performed. Construction schedules are subject to change.

WHERE: Mountain Ave, at Duarte Rd in the cities of Monrovia and Duarte.

WHAT TO EXPECT:

-        Detour routes will be in place during the full weekend intersection closure and the following three-month closure of the southern portion of the intersection; signage will be posted to direct motorists.

-        Pedestrian access will be available thru a temporary pedestrian crossing adjacent to the work zone.

-        Another full intersection closure will take place at the end of the second construction phase to realign the traffic lanes in their final configuration.

-        Access to all local businesses on Mountain Ave and Duarte Rd will remain open at all times during the street construction.

-        Bus stops in this vicinity may be temporarily relocated. For information about:

o   MTA bus services call (323) GO-METRO (323-466-3876) or go to www.metro.net

o   Foothill Transit bus services call (800) RIDE-INFO (800-743-3463) or go to www.foothilltransit.org

o   Duarte Transit local services call (626) 358-9627 or go to www.accessduarte.com

o   Monrovia Transit local services call (626) 358-3538 or go to www.cityofmonrovia.org/planning/page/monrovia-transit

FOR MORE INFORMATION

-        Visit www.foothillgoldline.org

# # #

About the Foothill Gold Line Construction Authority: The Construction Authority is an independent transportation planning and construction agency created in 1998 by the California State Legislature. Its purpose is to extend the Metro Gold Line light rail line from Union Station to Montclair, along the foothills of the San Gabriel Valley. The Construction Authority built the initial segment between Union Station and Pasadena and is underway on the Foothill Gold Line. The Foothill Gold Line is a nearly $2 billion extension that will connect Pasadena to Montclair in two construction segments – Pasadena to Azusa and Azusa to Montclair. The 11.5-mile Pasadena to Azusa segment is on time and on budget, and will be completed in late-September 2015 when it will be turned over to Metro for testing and pre-revenue service. It is fully funded by LA County’s Measure R. Metro will determine when the line will open for passenger service. Three design-build contracts, totaling more than $550 million, are being overseen by the Construction Authority to complete the Pasadena to Azusa segment. The Azusa to Montclair segment is environmentally cleared and is undergoing advanced engineering and design. It will be shovel-ready for a design-build contract in 2017. The $1 billion segment is currently unfunded for construction.

A better Blue Line: 30-day closure of four Blue Line stations in Long Beach to begin Sept. 20

The track switch near Downtown Long Beach Station will be moved so trains can run more reliably. Photo: Anna Chen/Metro

The track switch near Downtown Long Beach Station will be moved and renewed so trains can run more reliable service. Photo: Anna Chen/Metro

Heads up, Blue Line commuters: Metro will start work on station and rail improvements in Long Beach on Saturday, September 20. The work will require a 30-day closure of four Blue Line stations in downtown Long Beach: Downtown Long Beach Station, Pacific Street Station, 1st Street Station and 5th Street Station. Metro will operate free bus shuttles in place of rail service in the Long Beach Loop during the closure.

Customers will be able to ride the bus shuttles from Anaheim Street Station to the four stations listed above at no charge. Shuttles will run at the same Blue Line service levels and will be scheduled to meet trains for transfers. At Anaheim Street Station, regular train service will continue northward to Los Angeles.

Work at the four Long Beach stations will include installing new tile, lighting, paint and extending station canopies. Other work will involve replacing a switch between tracks near Downtown Long Beach Station and rail inspection and replacement.

The work is part of the $1.2-billion overhaul taking place on the Metro Blue Line. Some of the updates have already been completed and many others, including major track improvement work, are now underway. Metro will make every effort to minimize disruptions to service while work is being done, but in this case, some disruption is inevitable. While dealing with any kind of service disruption can be a huge headache, please keep in mind that when the work is completed, the Blue Line should have more reliable service.

Buses in Long Beach will be detouring off 1st Street to Ocean Avenue during the closure. First Street will be closed from Long Beach Boulevard to Pacific Avenue during construction. Pedestrian and bicycle access on 1st Street will remain open.

We will continue to update The Source with more information on the project as it progresses. You can also check the Blue Line Upgrades page for rail alerts or follow Metro on Twitter @metrolosangeles or @metrolaalerts to get service advisories.

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City of Beverly Hills approves MOA with Metro for Purple Line Extension utility work permits

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The Beverly Hills City Council on Tuesday night unanimously approved a Memorandum of Agreement and authorized its staff to issue permits to Metro to relocate utilities for the Purple Line Extension’s future station at Wilshire/La Cienega. This clears the way for Metro to move forward with its planned pre-construction work within the city’s borders.

Metro will now be able to relocate water, power, sewer and other utility lines once a contractor for the Wilshire/La Cienega station advanced utility work is selected.   Relocating the utilities now will ensure that area residents and business will be able to continue to receive service once actual construction begins for the Wilshire/La Cienega station.

The Memorandum of Agreement clearly defines how the two parties will work together during utility relocation. The MOA is similar to established agreements Metro already has with other cities throughout Los Angeles County.

The unanimous 5 to 0 vote is the result of months of close coordination between Metro and Beverly Hills. The City Council put the agency’s requested permits as well as its MOA through close scrutiny and public debate over the last eight months. City Council members expressed concerns regarding night-time work, noise, parking and local business impacts, among others.

During the vote, the Beverly Hills Council publicly thanked Metro and its construction relations team for working closely with the city. Council Members reported that Metro came to the table, listened to their concerns and worked cooperatively through their issues.

The approvals are welcome news to Metro and will help keep planned pre-construction work on track. Advanced utility relocation work for the other planned stations in the City of Los Angeles has been going on for the last year-and-a-half.

In July, Metro selected a design-builder for the first section of the Purple Line Extension.  The agency is now in a 45-day protest review period. Following the contract award, major construction would likely start next year.

The first phase of the Purple Line Extension will extend tracks for 3.9 miles from the current terminus at Wilshire and Western to Wilshire and La Cienega. New stations will be built at Wilshire/La Brea, Wilshire/Fairfax and Wilshire/La Cienega. The second phase of the project will extend the Purple Line to downtown Beverly Hills and Century City while the third phase will include two stations in Westwood — one at Wilshire and Westwood boulevards, the other at Wilshire and the VA Hospital.

The Purple Line Extension is being funded in part with Measure R, the half-cent sales tax approved by 68 percent of Los Angeles County voters in 2008.

VIDEO: U.S. Labor Secretary Thomas Perez tours Crenshaw/LAX Transit Project Construction Site

U.S. Secretary of Labor Thomas Perez toured the construction site of the Crenshaw/LAX Line on Monday, as the above video shows.

Perez was welcomed by Walsh/Shea Corridor Contractors (WSCC) workers LeDaya Epps and James Martinez. After a meeting with elected officials, executives from WSCC and Metro and community members, Secretary Perez was showed the ongoing work at Crenshaw Boulevard and Rodeo Road.

In the run-up to Labor Day on Sept. 1, Secretary Perez is on a nationwide tour of important public construction projects. Los Angeles was his first stop. For more information on the tour here’s the link to Tuesday’s post.